Meet a San Diego Window Washer
No high-rise is too high for Ernesto Ahumada
Photo by John Dole
Company: Green Clean
Services Job: Window Cleaner Supervisor
On any given day, National City resident Ernesto Ahumada boards a small platform called a “swing stage” and begins to climb. His company, Green Clean Services, washes the windows of some of downtown’s tallest skyscrapers, including the Bank of America, Merrill Lynch, and former NBC buildings.
Their tallest client, Symphony Towers, tops out at 34 floors and a vertigo-inducing 499 feet. This job is not for the faint of heart. But Ahumada has no fear. “You get used to it,” he says. “Now it’s like nothing.” He learned the trade from his father, who worked as a window washer for 30 years.
Despite the safety harnesses and lines running from the roof to the ground, Ahumada remembers that at first, “I was grabbing my hands on the rails. I wouldn’t let go.” These days he barely holds on, unlike some of his newer coworkers, who wash with one hand while gripping the rail with the other.
A typical eight-hour day consists of two “drops,” which start by going straight to the top floor, and then slowly working down, cleaning three to four windows per floor, whatever’s within reach of the 30-foot-wide swing stage. It can take up to eight days to finish one full face of a building. It’s steady, consistent work—weather permitting, of course. Ahumada says, “Only the wind and the rain stop us!”