jueves, 14 de noviembre de 2013

Cleaning windows in high-rise buildings in New York

Brent Weingard has battled dirt and grime high above New York City for as far as he can remember. He tells us what his job really involves in this three-minute plus video.

Self-study activity:
Watch the video and answer the questions below about it.

The activity is suitable for intermediate students.

1 What are the two titles to describe Brent's job?
2 What does '35' refer to?
3 What attitudes towards heights should anyone in this job show?
4 What New York buildings have anchors outside?
5 What three things do professionals use for washing?
6 What is one of Brent's biggest fears?
7 What part of the body suffers the most because of this job?

To check your answers, you can read the transcript below.

You know, I get up in the morning sometimes, and I get out there on the ledge. I just have to say, God! I love the smell of ammonia in the morning.
We are window cleaners. You know, some people will refer to us as window washers and I know they are either not that knowledgeable of this business or they are trying to put us down.
I’ve been working for thirty-five years, primarily here in New York City. I think heights… we never want to take our equipment for granted or our ability to work safely at great heights, so a certain amount of respect for the height and fear can… is healthy.
We take advantage of this door frame, and it’s a very, very good anchor. So if I were to lose my balance, free fall, one foot, this would certainly stop me, out of luck.
In pre-war buildings and buildings that have been properly renovated they have anchors outside of the windows that we can clip on with our window cleaning belt. First time I used the window cleaning belt I remember going out and just hugging the window as much as I would not lean back on that and trust those anchors enough.
For washing, the universal solvent is water. Added to the water we prefer mostly ammonia and just a squirt of Joy for lubrication. I was visiting my grandmother and I was about ready to clean her windows and she said ‘before you put anything in the water I’ve got the best thing for you’ and she pulled out a bottle of Joy dishwashing liquid and I said, ‘grandmother, that’s what the professionals in New York use’ and she says, ‘that’s right, it’s the best stuff’.
I can think of five occasions, were things we dropped, either a pole or squeegee and it is one of my biggest fears, our care not to drop equipment. We sometimes hold that equipment very tightly, tighter than necessary, kind of a dead grip.
I remember when one of my earliest realizations was my hands cramping at night, feeling very sore but I would say the more wear-and-tear for a window cleaner is in the knees. I’ll be ready for knee replacement.
When I was younger, guys, used to say to me or the super ‘you missed a spot’.  I guess that’s the oldest joke in the window cleaning industry, but I always took them very seriously and I would always try to find that spot and fix it.
Voila! Looks good, eh?