The window cleaner

About 18 months ago, I wrote about being on a train on the London Underground one night when someone stuck a sticker on the carriage wall (it read ‘Peak hours may necessitate that someone sits on your lap’, and looked just like the ‘official’ stickers placed on the carriage for information by the Transport for London corporation (you can read about this sticker here and updated here).

Today I was on the Paris Metro. I was sitting on one of the folding seats next to the carriage door. A man entered at the far end of the carriage and sat down. I didn’t pay him much attention at first. he was carrying a roll of paper towels and whatever the French equivalent of Windex is.

I assumed that he had been shopping and was on his way home. It turned out that this was not the case.

He seemed to notice something on the glass of the window in the door next to where I sat, and he got up and came over to look closer at it. Windows on the Paris Metro often have a lot of scratchiti and tags applied with paint or marker pen, and this window was no different. What the man had noticed was a tag, and he ran his finger over it several times, then sprayed Windex all over the glass. When the glass was quite wet, he proceeded to scrub away at it with one of his paper towels.

Because the tag he was rubbing away at was applied with some kind of paint, his efforts had no effect upon the window (except to remove whatever smudges and streaks had resulted from passengers going in and out of the train all day). Nevertheless, as the train neared the next station and people began to cluster around the doorway prior to getting off, he turned and said to another passenger, ‘That’s better, isn’t it?’

It could be that he was indeed someone who had been out shopping and who was simply inspired for some reason to use his Windex to clean the window. But I don’t think so. I think he was one of those people who make a project – one might almost say, sometimes, a crusade – out of removing graffiti from the surfaces of the city. They are not council workers or people doing this as their job; they are ordinary people who set themselves the task of graffiti removal.

For this man it meant cleaning windows on the trains in the Metro. I feel pretty lucky to have seen this guy in action – a case of being there just at the right moment (again) to witness an act of anti-graffiti taking place.

1 comment so far

  1. sparcs on

    I wonder if he has an anti tag???


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