The Windshield Washers
By Teri Saya
We were moving to Mexico from California. We packed and drove our little Toyota RAV across the border at Otay, just east of Tijuana. In a tiny town, we stopped to get some water at a mini-mart. As we pulled in, two young guys jumped at the car to wash our windshield. They started arguing, and then started beating each other with their fists! My husband said, “Let’s get the hell outta here!” and as I was trying to get it into reverse, the two guys, who were bloody by now, started beating each other over the hood of the car. I finally backed out, and they fell to the ground with fists still flying. We peeled out of there with spray bottles and rags flying off in all directions.
In the larger towns and cities, the Windshield Washers worked in teams… and with squeegees. Their timing was impeccable! The light would turn red, and they would have two to three cars complete and paid for by the time the light turned green. Not only were they quick, they did a great job! But the most impressive entrepreneur we met was the one who did nothing at all to clean the windshield.
We were sitting in a long line of cars waiting for the light to change. We could see the Windshield Washers doing their job several cars ahead of us. The spray floating on and above the cars, a quick swipe of the squeegee, and rags moving in fast circular motions. Then I noticed a boy of about eight or nine years of age. He had a bottle in his hand, and it looked like he was washing windows too as he came down the line of cars.
However, as he got closer, I saw that he had no rags, but seemed to be using big white gloves to wipe the windshields. As he approached our car, I noticed he was wearing white makeup and was dressed in typical mime fashion, a striped shirt, suspenders, and large pants with deep pockets. Some of the makeup had worn off as the boy was sweating in the mid-day heat.
To my surprise it was not water that he squirted over our windshield, but a small amount of tiny Styrofoam balls, the kind you would find inside a stuffed doll that was won at the carnival. They floated delicately down our windshield and then the boy, wearing his oversized gloves, pretended to wash our windshield without touching it. The little balls blew away with his movements.
I was very impressed with this innovative twist on a theme. When the boy came to my window, I handed him a large tip and said, “Muchas Gracias!” Staying in character, he said nothing, but looked at me with large, brown eyes, smiled and nodded, then headed for the car behind us.
As we drove away, I looked in the rear view mirror. I saw several young men with rags, spray bottles, and squeegees, moving out of the way of traffic, and one small mime following behind them.
We never again saw a mime windshield washer on that long road trip, and I often wonder about that boy….does he go to school? Is he an orphan? Does he have a family? Is he an extremely smart street kid? Where does he go after a long day of miming? I can only speculate. I wish that intelligent little mime all the luck in the world.