Using buckets of water from the neighbouring Port Authority lavatory, a well-organized group of squeegee guys welcomed the unofficial start of summer on Monday by aggressively wiping down windshields just blocks from Times Square.
Four squeegee men converged on automobiles and SUVs parked on West 40th Street near Ninth Avenue, directed by a fifth man who acted as an air traffic controller.
One of the males stated that the officers “don’t f–k with us – no summons, no nothing.”
Their primary targets were high-end vehicles with New Jersey plates, such as a BMW sedan and an Acura SUV.
A squeegee man offered a fist bump with one vehicle who barely cracked his window to hand him some cash.
While talking with the motorists, some of the men did not wear masks.
The crew members appeared to have stowed their gear overnight behind a green tarp draped around a nearby tree, recovering it the next morning when they arrived for “work.”
One arrived with a bottle hidden inside a black plastic bag, while another — the first to arrive — brought a bucket inside the nearby Port Authority Midtown Bus Terminal and filled it with water in the lavatory.
The upsetting incident occurred only one day after front-page news reports exposed deteriorating circumstances in Manhattan’s iconic Washington Square Park, where images recorded open-air drug use and discarded syringes.
On Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, the NYPD announced that the Greenwich Village green space would close two hours earlier, at 10 p.m.
While travelling into Manhattan from New Jersey for lunch with a companion on Sunday, a 57-year-old woman recalled feeling her “heart racing” as she was challenged by one man she characterised as “a weird guy.”
“He approached me. She added, “I said, “No, no, I don’t need to be squeegeed.”
“In the meantime, it’s raining.” ‘Do you have any money?’ he inquired. And I answered, ‘No, I don’t have any money.’
“You are lying,” the man responded, pointing to her pocketbook on the passenger seat. You’re well-off. She recalled, “Give me money.”
“He was doing more than bothering me. He was a raging bully… That’s a dreadful scene for a woman in a car.”
“I recall the awful old days in New York,” she added. This was one among the items on the table.”
Meanwhile, adjacent retailers claimed that the squeegee men were stealing their clients and scaring them away.
“This is hell on earth for us. “We’re doing business in hell,” said Farhana Farooq, proprietor of the LaSani Grill, who appeared despondent.
“When we try to keep them out, they pee and smash the glass in front of us.”
“They are dangerous,” Farooq added. They argue and turn on each other at times.”
“Two days ago, I witnessed one of them pursuing a couple with the squeegee because they were snapping pictures of them,” a worker at the Lincoln Gourmet Deli stated. They appeared to be tourists.”
The squeegee men also “jump in front of the cars and start cleaning,” according to the worker, even if drivers try to wave them away.
The worker explained, “Then they demand money.”
“I’d want to see something done about it. I’d like them to leave.”
The squeegee men “can be extremely aggressive,” according to Ying Luo, who operates a nearby grocery store, and drivers “pay them dollars for them to go away, not because they are cleaning or anything.”
He commented, “They seem to make a lot of money.”
I frequently see them with large stacks of cash by the end of the day.”
“We used to lock up squeegee guys,” a Manhattan detective explained, “but the district attorney won’t prosecute — so we stopped.”
The police said, “This is the least violent offence he doesn’t prosecute.”
“We can issue a summons, but they may use Fred Flintstone as their name. Unless the laws are amended, the quality of life will continue to deteriorate.”
The squeegee men were repeatedly chased away by policemen flashing their cruisers’ lights on Monday, but the panhandlers merely shifted to a nearby crossroads each time.
It’s illegal for anybody to forcefully approach a motorist or vehicle occupant “for the purpose of either providing or offering to perform a service in connection with such vehicle,” according to a 2006 city legislation.
Violators face a maximum sentence of 16 days in prison and a fine of $100.
“Our office reviews all arrests for this infraction and prosecutes those who engage in hostile behaviour,” said a spokesperson for outgoing Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance Jr.
- Squeegee Men: G.N.Miller/NYPost