Squeegee Man

Squeegee Punks in Traffic

A squeegee [skwee-jee] man is a person who, washcloth and squeegee in hand, wipes windshields of cars stopped in traffic and then solicits money from drivers. While squeegee men are a feature of life in many cities around the world, the phenomenon first became prevalent in New York City in the 1980s.

Although some merely provided a service, in other cases the windshield-washing would be carried out without asking, often perfunctorily, and with subsequent demands for payment, sometimes with added threats of smashing the car’s windshield if their demands were not met. Upon his election, mayor Rudy Giuliani famously embarked on a crusade against squeegee men as part of his quality-of-life campaign, claiming that their near-ubiquitous presence created an environment of disorder that encouraged more serious crime to flourish.

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