Londonist likes enterprise. The idea of making money in a creative and unusual way. The bob-a-job scout, the travelling tinker, the wandering minstrel, these are fun and hard-working figures who deserve their honest crust.
The other part of this poorly contrived syllogism is that Londonist hates sitting in traffic jams. Especially in London. All those fumes and all that rage all concentrated into one urban corridor. Bad news all round, really.
So therefore Londonist can see the logic of traffic-light industry. You are momentarily distracted from the tedium, and someone gets to earn a quick bob. Buying your evening newspaper, some half-dead flowers for the missus, a cold drink perhaps – they all kinda make sense (although surely we are not so time-poor a society that we cannot make time to go and buy these items through normal outlets?). And we just love those brave theatrical types who give us masquerades and acrobatics while we wait for that old green light.
But the squeegee gangs are something else. If we were in Delhi or Dubai or some other dustbowl city, there would perhaps be a need for windscreen washing. But in our metropolis they are a menace. At best they compel you into paying for a badly executed service that you really didn’t want in the first place; at worst you are staring into the soap-sud splashed face of organised crime. And the whole situation is made even harder by the fact that most (but not all, apparently) of the squeegee operators are youngsters – you are left wondering whether what you really want to do is to beat the living sh** out of them or take them home and give them a scrub and a good meal. Furthermore, the idea of squeegee extortion is easily replicated by unsupervised school truants/kids, some no older than 7 or 8 – how long before tragedy occurs?
So we are pleased to see that one London council is taking them on and moving them on. As usual, it is hard man Ealing who has been brave enough to take this stance; Londonist has in the past been less than impressed by their strictness, but on this occasion we salute them.
Image courtesy of romainedirisinghe’s flickr stream.