Window washing is arduous work— but doing it hundreds of feet in the air from a New York City skyscraper certainly has its perks. A video published by The New York Times, “Washing Windows in the Sky,” gives a firsthand look at this strangely peaceful job and the exhilarating, one-of-a-kind views of New York City that come with it.
The video begins hundreds of feet in the air above Midtown Manhattan, where it feels like you’re looking down at New York City straight from the clear, blue sky. Gazing upon the vast expanse of Manhattan, one window washer, Cristian Toledo, describes what it’s like to work from this height on a regular basis.
Mr. Toledo, a window washer since 2009, describes the tranquility of his job, saying, “Up there, you don’t hear nothing.”
During the second half of the video, everyone slowly descends hundreds of feet back down, camera shaking. During the ride down, Mr. Toledo describes the stark contrast between the quietude up top to the commotion you hear as you get closer to the ground—cars, fire trucks, ambulances.
“But once you’re up there, you don’t hear nothing,” he reiterates.
As everyone reaches the ground, Mr. Toledo says, “People think I’m crazy, but I prefer to be in the air looking at people working in the office, than me working in the office. Cause I don’t stay there on the computer all day.”
He adds that his job isn’t scary—he in fact thinks that roller coasters are more frightening.
But it’s certainly not easy to get this job, and naturally, there are dangers that come with it. According to The New York Times, window washers undergo extensive training beforehand. Some must spend up to 216 hours in a classroom, and another 3,000 hours for hands-on experience.
Training includes learning how to handle equipment malfunctions and bad weather. For window washers, especially those like Cristian who work at heights, wind can be life-threatening. This is why window washers don’t work at large heights if winds are more than 25 mph.
Just as he knows its stunning perks, Mr. Toledo also understands the serious risks of his job.
“The wind is my worst enemy. If for any reason I get disconnected from the building, the wind is gonna flip me over,” he said in the article. Mr. Toledo recalled a day when it was so windy that he and his partner feared the cable would break, adding, “And you think about family.”
But in the end, Mr. Toledo told the Times that he loves going to work everyday and wouldn’t trade his job for anything.
In a city that’s filled with commotion and people frequently working in mundane offices, the video can certainly make you envious of the respite and excitement of window washing from skyscrapers—that is, if you aren’t afraid of heights.