Written by Carrie Guenther
This edition of A Most Interesting Person, rather than AWC asking questions we decided to let one of our writers AKA Window Ninja explain herself. Here is her story.
What’s the Window Ninja all about?
Well, for one thing: Gratitude.
What an amazing gift it is to love your work. So many of my fellow humans don’t. Running Window Ninja has taken over my life, fortified my spirit and kept me sane (relatively speaking) for five beautiful seasons, now.
Writing for a trade magazine has been an unknown road I never knew I’d be on. I’m so grateful for the chance to publish my words, and to have concrete avenues that get my message out into the world. I’ve been writing stories, obsessively, since I was nine. It’s been a fun ride, but it did not come with a road map. Early on, I insisted that I have autonomy on what I write about, because that is really important to me.
A cleaner once told me, “We need positive people like you, because, basically, window cleaners are dicks.” I hereby fully accept the mission of helping the industry to be less dickish.
If you have ever read my stuff, you know that what I really love writing about is people, and the connections they establish and maintain with each other. This human interaction thing is what I’ve always loved most about life.
At a recent meeting with my editor, I learned more about the folks who are reading AWC magazine. Through my own assumptions, I concluded that many of my readers are white conservative Christian men. I am only one of those four things, I thought, in a momentary panic, so how do I succeed in connecting with as many of my readers as I can?
The answer, I hope, is simple. All we need to have in common is cleaning glass, and kicking ass.
In my experience, cleaners generally have low self-esteem. Not just here, but globally. In the caste system in India, cleaners weigh in just above lepers, in that ancient social hierarchy. Like Jim Crow laws in the south, those laws in India are now illegal, but they have resonating aftershocks. I have always adored the simplicity, physicality, and instant gratification of cleaning. So I want to help cleaners have a higher self-esteem, because we all know what a difference cleaning really makes. We are valuable to a lot of folks. And we should be just as valuable to ourselves.
Also, I realize a lot of people in the industry aren’t necessarily still active in-the-field. No judgment. I still want to encourage human health and happiness overall, in the cleaning world, even if it happens behind a desk, phone, baby carriage or stove.
Cleaning homes was my first job, at 14, and cleaning has been my most consistent job throughout my adulthood. One of my strongest values is to enjoy what I do. Work is a third of our lives, and affects everything that surrounds our lives. That adds up to a significant portion of our short time on this earth. In my case, I like to move around a lot, I like to be outside, I like driving, I love people, and I love being my own boss. I’m also obsessed with world-travel. All six of those likes and loves, for me, are supported through window cleaning. I think it’s safe to say that, although I am gloriously imperfect, my self-esteem is healthy. My objectives are to inspire other people in the industry to have a genuine love and purpose for what they do, to be happier human beings, and to be creatively expressive.
Where do I come from? My parents; Kathy and Greg. They met on the west bank, near the University of Minnesota, at one of the bars where my dad played music. Mom was pursuing education, and dad was decidedly not. In 1975 I was the only spawn born to this unlikely couple. He self-destructed just before I entered kindergarten. Heroine. Mom carried on, got her nursing degree, and had one more husband and two more kids.
Shortly before my dad passed, mom and I ran away from him to California. My first memorable life-challenge was adjusting to a preschool in San Diego where most of the other kids spoke only Spanish, and living in a neighborhood where the same was true. I had to adapt, and I did so. Adaptation is so important. By the time I was 15, we’d moved a dozen times. All of these things actually ended up making me a really good world-traveler, in the end.
There was addiction and dysfunction consistently, in my family, and we were usually in poverty. But there was a lot of uniqueness and magic in my life, too. My momma did the best she could, for us.
For example, I’m college educated. It was not my choice. I would have been great in the military, or in trade school, or as a hot-air-balloon pilot, but that wasn’t an option, because mom said nope to those things, and for once in my life, I listened to her. For that reason, I will likely always be in debt. I have a major in French and a minor in foreign studies. That degree came in handy for two things: qualifying me to teach English in Thailand, and having a French boyfriend for a very short time.
I was married, once. I have had a son. He lives in the U.K. and he will be ten in December.
As far as interests, I usually have a lot going on. Escaping into the woods was a coping mechanism for me since early childhood, and I’m a passionate outdoorswoman and environmentalist. I belong to local communities in the areas of yoga, Buddhism, dance-church, activism, the circus arts, choir, music and theater. I have amazing friends, both in Minneapolis, and all over the world. They are, in fact, my super-power. This winter, as during most winters, I am going to the U.K. and Thailand. Next year I will try to go to both Pakistan and Israel, too. Please tell me if you know any window cleaners there.
Thanks for getting to know me. I hope to write many things you enjoy reading!