Jerry Zezima, a Newsday assistant editor who writes a nationally syndicated humor column for his hometown paper, The
I do windows. Unfortunately, I do them every couple of years, which gives the windows plenty of time to get dirty, and even then it is clear that I don't do them very well because I have always considered the job a pane in the glass.
This year, I let a professional end my losing streak, which was, of course, in each window.
Enter (through the front door, not a window) David Wright, owner of Mr. Wright's Window Cleaning of Centerport.
Not to be confused with the New York Mets slugger of the same name ("He doesn't do windows as well as I do, but I can't hit a baseball as well as he can"), Wright was a lawyer, a financial analyst and a monk before devoting his life to letting the sunshine into the lives of others by cleaning their windows.
"I want to make people happy," Wright said. "And a lot of people are happy when their windows are clean."
I knew I would be happy if my windows were clean because it also would give happiness to my wife, Sue, who had been after me for the past two years to use Windex and a roll of paper towels, not to mention a little elbow grease, to clean the windows.
"Elbow grease is a prime source of smudges and streaks," I told her.
Sue wasn't buying it, which is why I ended up buying a reasonably priced cleaning package (10 windows for $49) so she could finally meet Mr. Wright.
"I'm David," he said, introducing himself to Sue. "I'm here to clean your windows."
Sue swooned. "Thank you," she replied. "They could use it."
Wright started on the outside, where he told me that his wife, Joanne, likes the way he does the windows at their house but wishes he would do them more often.
"I'm working seven days a week," he said, adding that he started the business last year and will be joined next year by his son Collier, a U.S. Army Ranger who is serving in Iraq. "So I don't have the time to do our windows too often."
"That excuse isn't going to work for me," I said.
"You'll have to think of another one," Wright said as he used a water-fed pole with a nylon brush to clean the outside of the windows in the living, dining and family rooms.
"Nylon?" I said. "Theoretically, I could clean windows with my wife's stockings."
"Theoretically," Wright responded, "it wouldn't be a good idea."
What would be a good idea, he added, is to use resin instead of soap. "I'm using it now," he said. "It's much more effective."
As he worked, Wright, who is 53, told me that he started out as a lawyer ("If you go to the bathroom, bring work with you so you can bill your clients"), then got into financial services before giving up all his material possessions and spending time in a monastery, where he decided he wanted to make people happy for a living.
"I am doing my second-favorite thing," he said, referring to cleaning windows, which allows him to meditate while he works.
"What's your favorite thing?" I inquired.
"I'd like to be a professional poker player," Wright said. "But my wife doesn't think it's a safe bet."
When we moved inside, Wright said that customers always kid him about having the same name as the Mets star. "They'll say, 'When you finish with my windows, are you going to Citi Field?' Maybe I should give them my autograph," said Wright, who cleaned the windows with a long razor blade encased in a scraper. He also used a squeegee and a scrubber made of lamb's wool and AstroTurf.
"And I use Dawn," he said.
"Who's she?" I asked.
"The person you can get to clean your windows," said Wright, though he really meant the dishwashing liquid. "Don't tell your wife, but most windows are dirtier on the inside than they are on the outside."
I didn't tell Sue, who was nonetheless amazed when Wright was finished.
"Wow!" she squealed. "These windows have never been so clean."
"The trick," Wright said, "is to keep them that way."
"I'll do my part," I said. "In two years, I'll give you another call."