Archive | June, 2019

The Squeegee Life

13 Jun

I work downtown two days a week in Mount Vernon. At the corner of Orleans, right by the Public Storage Warehouse, is always a group of “Squeegee Kids”. They are relatively polite, but I know there’s been a lot of talk about them lately, with Mayor Pugh’s “plan” to get them off the streets, and with drivers reporting that squeegee kids are hitting their windshields, if they don’t allow them to wash the windows. Like I said, my dealings lately with squeegee kids have been uneventful; one even drew a heart on my windshield, after cleaning it. But that wasn’t always the case. In the wake of the Baltimore Squeegee kid controversy, I’ve decided it’s time to share my story.

It was a beautiful summer day in the early 1990’s. My friend Melanie and I were driving to Harborplace, as we often did, to enjoy the evening. We were teenagers at the time, but we grew up in the city, so driving downtown was not unusual for us. We went downtown almost every weekend. But we started to become scared sitting at the light at St. Paul and North Ave. because of the squeegee kids. Being teenagers, we never had much money, especially not for them. And they would get pissed if you didn’t give them money. The light at St. Paul and North is a long one. In previous weeks, we’d been yelled at by them, and one of the kids hit my windshield with the squeegee. As the summer went on, we began to see more and more kids at the corner.

On this particular day, there were at least 6 squeegee kids on the corner, probably no older than 13. We spotted them from a mile away, and hoped we didn’t get stuck at the light. Of course, we did. They asked if they could wash our windshield. We motioned no. And then the wrath of the squeegee kids rained down upon us. One of them hit my windshield again. One of them hopped up on the hood of my car. Another one jumped on the hood, and then to our horror, walked from one end of the car to the other. The other kids pointed and laughed at us, as we screamed and sped away when the light finally turned. Looking back, I find this experience pretty funny, but at the time we were terrified by the situation because we were rendered helpless.

Melanie and I will never forget that day, but with the rise of the Squeegee Kids again now, it brings up some questions for me. I wonder if there’s a squeegee gang. Did the squeegee kids of the 90’s pass down their squeegees to the kids of today? Is hitting the windshield a rite of passage? Is there some secret squeegee initiation? I guess I’ll never know. But in all seriousness, I wish the squeegee kids well. If they can make money that way, more power to them. Because there’s a lot worse happening in Baltimore City than the plight of the squeegee kids.