Clear Vision: 6 Tips from a Window Washer

Last Week Joe Schrock of TIP TOP Window Cleaning announced his arrival by knocking lightly on my door. I spotted his truck on my driveway.


I had contacted Joe about cleaning the windows at our new house. They were dirty when we moved in and got even worse when wind-whipped rain lashed the panes during October’s hurricane Matthew.

The name Schrock sounded Mennonite to me, or at least Pennsylvania Dutch.

When I inquired, Joe told me,

“Yeah, my Amish ancestors came to Lancaster County, Pennsylvania in the 1730s. Then they moved to Ohio. My dad’s from Sugarcreek, and my mom from Kent. You’ve heard of Kent State, haven’t you?”

Of course I had.

“I guess you know about the Amish newspaper, The Budget.” Oh, my goodness! I had never heard of it. Noticing my startled expression, “Yes,” he said, “it comes out of Sugarcreeck, Ohio.”

“I bet I can find it on the Internet.” I walked over to my laptop resting on the kitchen island.

There it was: Home page of The Budget newspaper with a close-up view of a goat with a big-eared welcome.

The newspaper also had a Facebook page. I quickly found the About page which read: Serving the Sugarcreek area and Amish and Mennonite Communities throughout the Americas since 1890. (The pages reminded me that many plain folks have settled in South America, particularly in Paraguay and Bolivia.)

There was a pause. “Golly, I had no idea the Amish did computer stuff!” he smiled.

Later he told me, “I was born in Miami but have lived in Jacksonville, Florida, for a long time. I started my window washing business in 1982.

* * *

Though two friends had recommended him highly, my first-hand experience as a former Mennonite confirmed some expectations I had of him, some sterling qualities that many plain people possess:

1. Right Equipment He came with all the right tools, chemicals, buckets, and squeegees. I detected a faint whiff of tobacco.


2. Fair price His price appeals to the budget conscious. He was at my house for six hours and presented me with a bill that looked like it came from the 1960s. I gave him a nice tip.

3. Cleanliness As soon as he walked into my house, he put on blue booties and never tracked in any dirt.


4. Thoroughness He went far beyond what was expected. I gave him the green light when he suggested that he could scrape off an old security company sticker. “It’ll come off just like that,” he predicted. Of course it did!


5. Pleasant He didn’t whistle while he worked, but I believe he could have.

6. Strong work ethic He kept at it until he was done. He didn’t take any breaks although I would not have minded if he had.



That evening, I remembered a book on my nightstand, Wisdom of the Plain Folk: Songs and Prayers from the Amish and Mennonites, compiled by Donna Leahy, photography by Robert Leahy

Work begun is half done. ~ Amish woman’s proverb (33)


I know some sloppy Mennonites; maybe you do too. A few may be lazy, but probably not many. And you certainly don’t have to be Mennonite or Amish to uphold integrity in the workplace. Or appreciate fine workmanship.


Even so, I’m glad my first-ever encounter with a window washer (Yes, I’m frugal!) gave me clearer vision: clean windows and a re-visitation of the values of my own ancestry.


As the new year begins, I need some sparkle in my life. Clean windows did it for me.

How about you? Are you anticipating anything sparkly in your new year?


43 thoughts on “Clear Vision: 6 Tips from a Window Washer

  1. Oh Marian, how very fun to wake up to this today. When I first read about your Joe, I immediately thought of Ed Schrock, someone I knew during my Ohio era. And I’m a KSU grad, you know.

    And, as I read further and saw you mention that Mennonites had settled in Paraguay, I recalled one of the many papers I’d written while at NYU as an undergrad: Mennonites of the Paraguayan Chaco. I still have it stored away.

    Thanks for the nice memories. Now if I could just place Ed Schrock a bit more clearly . . .

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah, yes, Janet, you did mention Kent State during one of our visits. Now I wonder about Ed’s lineage, probably some good German-Swiss blood flowing in his veins. If you ever come across that undergrad paper on Paraguayan Mennonites, I’d be interested in your findings. (See, hoarding is not always a bad thing!) I’m curious about whether motivations beyond arable soil drew them to this particular country. I could research it now, but perhaps someone will share information in our conversation here.

      You get the prize for first responder today, Janet!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. And now I’m a little shocked that you didn’t know about The Budget. Perhaps Pa. Amish/Mennonites didn’t follow The Budget like folks in Indiana did/do. And perhaps I didn’t really know about the paper in my high school and college days, but I think my friends and neighbors in Indiana in the 60s talked about it. It comes to our offices here at MennoMedia. 🙂 But I didn’t know they had a Facebook page. I’m on it now!

    Love your clean windows! I’m sure that was a great gift to yourselves.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I hear your excitement, Melodie. Maybe the Budget’s Facebook page will provide more fodder for your writing. I’ve been away from Mennonite land since the late 1960s, so I have some catching up to do. Thanks to Joe Schrock walking through my door, I’m enlightened now.

      In August, just after we moved in, one of my friends remarked that I could see better if my windows were washed; it’s taken me this long to get around to it. (I wasn’t offended – she means well!) Yes, I can see the lake much better and probably hear the ducks quack louder, a gift indeed!


  3. Good morning, Marian! I’m picturing you looking through your sparkling, clean windows. How nice!
    It’s so much fun when you meet someone who is somehow connected to you. Maybe way back his ancestors and yours knew each other. He sounds like a wonderful window washer. I think it’s wonderful that you found out about him (opened a window, so to speak 🙂 ), and that you appreciate his work. I’m sure he appreciates the endorsement!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Before he left, I asked Joe if he needs more business. Some of my readers are locals and I would be glad to advertise for him. As you may suspect, he says he has more than he can handle and has limited his clients to those southeast of Beach Boulevard. What a guy!

      I can assure you, he’ll be back to this address.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Good Morning, Marian. It’s amazing how such a mundane event such as window washing could lead to so many rich connections and a perfect metaphor for starting off the new year with clear vision. I always feel better when my environment is in order and this is a perfect example. I’d love to hire Joe for our windows!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You know how it goes with household tasks. We wait a long time to get the task done and then ask, “Why did I wait so long?”

      Here’s hoping for continued clear vision and a fabulous book launch, soon, very soon. I’m so excited for you, Jill. Your windows can wait.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Thanks, Marian. This is the year when we actually will clean all our windows, thanks to this inspiring post. We have so many, and they are hard to clean, but maybe I can find a Schrock around here, too. 🙂

    The subtext of this message about the Mennonites and Amish is that they (often, not always) personify the values of hard work, honesty, and frugality. I just heard a lecture about the Dutch Mennonites in the 17th and 18th centuries, when what the historians call modernism was beginning, bringing with it national identities and capitalism. Max Weber, I learned, wrote a paper about how Quaker and Mennonite values aligned well with capitalism, a variation on his famous book The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism.

    Also, my neighbor Vi is writing a book about Amish women and literacy. Of course, The Budget is an important source for her. I’ll put you two in touch with each other.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for bringing the scholarly perspective to this post, strengthened by your Mennonite identity. I appreciate too your willingness to contact your neighbor. Vi Dutcher and I are acquaintances on Facebook. She may still be English department chair at EMU, but I know her mostly from her recent travels.

      I love the twists and turns our conversations take in this space. And you are an important part of it. Thanks again, Shirley!


      1. Your windows, which I’ve seen, offer a wide vista of the Alleghenys, but like several of ours that face the lake, require cleaning. I’m glad this post provided the inspiration for getting the job done. May you find a Joe Schrock. Maybe your students have connections to a thrifty/efficient window cleaner . . .


  6. What a bonus, to have clean windows and have them done by a fellow Mennonite. My sister gave us a Christmas present–someone coming to shovel the snow on our driveway for the month of January. That is the most thoughtful gift I have received, especially since the snowfall was especially heavy and I had a bad cold.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What a thoughtful sister you have. Such a gift is worth far more than a trinket wrapped up in a bow! A few days ago our son made an adjustment on the stopper in a bathroom wash-bowl. He took less than 5 minutes, but what a difference it made, and no out-of-pocket expense either. Thanks, Elfrieda!

      I hope you are feeling better these days.


    1. I have heard of the healthful benefits of garlic. Lemon juice would soften its sharp taste with maybe a dab of honey. I’ll have to post this somewhere, maybe inside the medicine cabinet. Probably other readers will take note of your tip too – thanks!


  7. Hi Marian, I don’t think about cleaning windows in January here in cold PA. but glad you could find a good guy to do the job. We sometimes joke about the Mennonite and Amish work ethic but I think it is an OKAY thing. Amish still carry a strong work ethic maybe more than Mennonites do.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is definitely okay – well beyond OKAY! Our mothers talked about spring cleaning for a reason. (The water would freeze on the panes in January.) I think some Mennonite women even did fall cleaning, another “scutching up.” I remembers some of my mother’s friends bragging about how early they got theirs done – ha!

      Thanks, Shirley: Nice to hear from you again.


      1. Yes, spring and fall housecleaning were very important. Today, for me, well my cleaning gets done whenever. To be fair to our Mothers, I think their houses were harder to keep clean. When we lived at Lititz we lived in an old house. After years of remodeling and tearing out old walls and replacing with insulation and drywall we definitely had a cleaner house.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Good point, Shirley. I hadn’t thought about older houses being harder to keep clean, but they did have well-worn surfaces and lots of nooks and crannies. I have sort of a “gasp and wipe” approach to house-cleaning, more “whenever” than not. Still, after we took down decorations and the tree I felt the need for a deep clean. Ha!


    1. It’s an endorsement he doesn’t actually need. He’s been doing business for over 30 years now and his reputation has won him clients all over town. In fact, he has been in such demand, he has restricted himself to the area of the city south of Beach Boulevard, a major artery. Good thing I live in the right place!

      Nevertheless, I hope he does read this. Thanks for recognizing the quality of integrity too, Darlene.


    1. Yes, you can be sure he is in my permanent contact list. With his kindly service and great prices, I will probably use him every year. Worth every penny and then some. Thanks for stopping in with a comment again, Marie.


  8. Nothing like an excellent helper with instant trust. In upstate NY, the Amish and Mennonite men do lots of barn building. They’re known for being fast and inexpensive. Plain Folks kept farming going around here for many years when other farmers gave up on the land. I love driving by the neat-as-a-pin farms free of piles of old metal equipment and junk cars. They have vegetable and baked good stands along the highway going north, including one of the biggest organic markets around.

    Vic was the window washer here. He loved our views and got busy with windex or white vinegar water a few times a year. It’s one of a few jobs that doesn’t get done half as well without him, but today the woman who helps me with cleaning for a few hours twice a month did some inside window washing. Outsides are up to the rain and me.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The Amish in upstate New York have made their mark, much like I’ll see when I visit Lancaster County in a few weeks. I find such order calming and peaceful. In a few months, we’ll see Amish and Mennonite stands selling fresh strawberries and early peas.

      I’m glad you get help with cleaning your house. And with more snowfall, you certainly don’t need to worry about the windows outside. Maybe when the time is right you can use a hose one fine spring day with Willow cheering you on. Or, better yet, find a Mr. Schrock!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. You would go crazy with your camera and the ducks here, Fiona: mallards, Canada geese and 1 or 2 egrets mostly. I’m sure you are one of my readers who looked past the windows to the view beyond. Thank you!


  9. What a lovely meeting Marian and this man giving you a clearer vision! We have such people amongst us too – those who take pride in their work and in giving satisfaction to their customers. When found they are to be cherished. May your outlook continue brightly and beautifully!

    Liked by 2 people

  10. That is ‘Some’ window cleaner you have there Marian , such sparkly windows and such a pretty view . My sister had an amazing window cleaner when she lived in Kidderminster, they would have real ‘ heart to hearts’ she misses him since moving to Wales .
    I have a secret dream …I would love a ‘DAILY ‘ ( an old fashioned term) someone to come in a few hours every day who was a bit like Mrs Doubtfire …🙄Ok I told you it was a dream 😊
    I think you are a ‘Alexander McCall Smith ‘ fan , have you ever read the Isabel Dalhousie series ❓well she has an interesting daily .
    Yes I am a woman with a plan for a sparkly 2017 …my blooming loft .

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Just between you and me, I’d like a “daily” too. Laundry, floors, grocery shopping – I’d start there. Then we’d have more time to tickle the keys. Right!

    Yes, I’m a huge fan of the Isabel Dalhousie series and I remember her leisurely, if conflicted, life. Even with a “daily,” which we’d call a maid, plenty of mayhem went on. 😉

    I’m curious about your plan for a sparkly 2017. If it’s your blooming loft you might post before & after photos on Facebook. (Or not!) Thanks for always adding your special brand of spice to this column, Cherry!


  12. This reminds me of when I worked in an office building and they’d clean the windows. I never could concentrate while they were outside my window. It felt very creepy, even though I know they weren’t paying attention to what was going on inside the offices…especially if it was just boring people working at our desks!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Stephanie, welcome! I don’t know whether you can see this reply or not as my website is being revised and I have had difficulties. I will try to comment on your blog. Thanks for the inSIGHT here!


  13. Marian — I love this post. It’s CLEAR this experience helped you to REFLECT on your wonderful Mennonite roots. I can SEE a great value in having hired someone with integrity and great work ethic.

    My new year sparkle is being on a three month sabbatical to finish my next book—The Business of Being. I bought Willa with me. I’m going to have to hire a window washer before I leave because all of the windows are covered with nose prints from her watching the mule deer outside.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I love ❤️ your little clues, but I’m sure you are not in England because if you were driving on the left side of the road, you may already have had an accident. Heaven forgend! Besides, you speak of mountains. Some day I may have a sparkly sabbatical. Then I wouldn’t mind returning to smudged windows- ha!

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Lovely endorsement of obviously a lovely man who takes his work and his work ethic seriously. And I think it’s RIGHT that we give credit to those who clean/maintain/help us keep our sacred homes clean with a good view.

    Liked by 2 people

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