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OpinionColumnistsMike Vogel

Invasion of the 'squeegee pests'? Not quite

The Cortlandt Street Subway entrance seen across Church

The Cortlandt Street Subway entrance seen across Church Street at Ground Zero, Lower Manhattan. Photo Credit: iStock

Alert the townspeople -- the squeegee guys are back!

According to a recent NY Post story, squeegee men are now "terrorizing" the streets of New York City. The article implied that the bad old days may have returned to town, when miscreants roamed our streets. So far, a grand total of three squeegee guys were documented by the Post, so I'm not going into panic mode just yet.

But yes, it did bring back distant memories, when an innocent young Brooklyn lad with his first car drove into the big bad city, and a smiling squeegee guy approached and offered to clean his windshield.

Alright, my windshield.

I grinned back and said "no thanks," but he cleaned it anyway -- if your definition of "cleaned" is smearing it with a filthy rag. Still smiling, he came over and requested a tip. When I politely refused, he smashed his squeegee down with fury, denting my hood.

Ah yes, the good old days!

Now there is the suggestion that those dreaded times may be back. The truth is, these guys will be gone before you finish this sentence. If you think NYPD Police Commissioner Bill Bratton will let even one New Yorker (beside a headline writer) think the city is back to the bad old days under his watch, you don't know Bill Bratton.

Talking on "CBS This Morning" recently, Bratton calmly said no, we're not being overrun, and that the handful of "squeegee pests" will be "taken care of very, very quickly."

Bratton, who is in his second tour as commissioner, is well aware that the specter of a squeegee army is symbolic, meant to frighten you into thinking you will soon be unable to navigate your way around the city without being accosted by creeps.

But while that may seem an absurd thought in tranquil 2014 NYC, don't laugh too loudly. Those who were here in the early 1990s or before still remember a time when muggings were rampant, when you'd tape signs on the back window of your parked car pleading "No radio, no valuables."

Now we are in a newer, brighter day, and I don't think we have to worry about returning to the dark side of New York just yet.

But if you see Spider-Man wielding a squeegee, all bets are off.

Playwright Mike Vogel blogs at

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