41 Comments

  1. I liked this one but would have made it an “Oy.” These are “odd jobs” as in, they are curious, quirky, or weird. Cutting grass with nail clippers is distinctly odd. Then “cleaning windows” is a more expected “odd job” in the sense of “various small work” yet that is what Clyde finds truly odd (as he cuts “hare.”) Lots of puns here.

  2. And maybe a Geezer reference, but “I don’t do windows” used to be a common last statement when listing all the jobs one does.

  3. I will add on to what MarK M said. At some point (seventies?) “I don’t do windows” morphed from a common last statement for cleaning ladies to being a VERY common punchline. (“I am a master of disguise, I know karate, judo and kung fu, and I am fluent in 7 languages, but I don’t do windows” or “The food-o-matic slices, dices, and purees, but it doesn’t do windows”)

    Here is a real example from Stephen King’s 1989 book “The Dark Half”:
    Do you read minds as well as write books Mr. Beaumont?
    Read minds, write books, but honey, I don’t do windows.

    Therefore, in the comic you have a switch from “odd job” being a weird job in panels 2-3, to in the final panel the phrase meaning both an “odd job” in the traditional idiomatic sense (various small work), but also being “odd” as “not typically done”.

  4. Nitpick. These jobs aren’t so much odd as done oddly. A coworker used to have a joke that cleaner the dirt from an elephant’s toenail is an odd job, so I was expecting more on that line.

    I think Mark M. has it in that ubiquitous refusal to do windows makes actually doing windows odd. I’d probably find it funnier if I had ever actually understood why “I don’t do windows” was supposed to be funny in the first place but I never did.

    I hadn’t noticed we stopped using that phrase but we certainly have. I wonder why. It wasn’t particularly current to anything that would go out of fashion or become obsolete.

  5. ‘I’d probably find it funnier if I had ever actually understood why “I don’t do windows” was supposed to be funny in the first place but I never did.’

    Of all housecleaning tasks, that’s considered the worst.

  6. Let me rephrase that. It’s considered the most onerous, and the most unsatisfying . . . no matter how hard you work, you still get streaks. And, in our house, dog nose prints very quickly reappear. (Not that I’m complaining, but I’m disinclined to do windows very often; ours are floor-to-ceiling sliders.)

  7. Odd that I’m the first to add this… political story from the 70’s that “doing windows” was code for oral sex. As in “This is my intern Jenny, who can type & take dictation. But she doesn’t do windows.”

  8. And in part, depending on the configuration, needing to do the outside of the windows could be dangerous or at least awkward to reach.

  9. One reason you don’t see it any more is that modern windows open up for easier cleaning. No longer do you need to get a ladder.

  10. Remember those TV commercials for the device that you attached to the hose and put tablets of cleaner into? One of the selling points was cleaning even second-story windows safely.

  11. It gave the BEST cleaning; however, we have hurricane-resistant windows and are not supposed to use Windex or any other cleaner on them. Drat!

  12. My first job involved cleaning windows. I think it probably was with vinegar (or perhaps ammonia). That wasn’t particularly pleasant.

  13. I had to clean the window at my first job, too. It was a pool hall with a large (probably 8’ x 12’ store front window.). I used the same stuff on the window that I used to mop the floor, a bucket of water with 2 or 3 glugs of ammonia. With a squeegee it wasn’t bad at all. Now, mopping the floor – that could get disgusting.

  14. Ironically, this afternoon I asked Hubby why there was a squeegee in the grocery bag . . . he said he planned to clean the windows this weekend. More power to him, I say.

  15. I don’t do windows, either — only mac.

    And why can’t you use Windex on “hurricane-resistant windows”? Is Windex its kryptonite?

  16. “And why can’t you use Windex on “hurricane-resistant windows”? Is Windex its kryptonite?”

    I’ve NO IDEA; Hubby read about this after he’d already used Windex once. I never asked; I figured if he wanted to make window-cleaning even more onerous than it already was, who was I to argue.

  17. “Forget about using that commercial blue glass cleaner. The color of that product is what makes it look appealing but you can concoct a better cleaning solution right at home with common kitchen ingredients.”

    No explanation given. Maybe the company wants to help its customers save money after spending $30,000 (in this case, and previous to our purchasing the house) on sliders and windows. The site also says not to use paper towels, as that’s too expensive.

  18. Well, I clean our windows about once every couple of years (whether they need it or not!) and I have been making my own cleaner for … a long time.
    1 gallon water
    1 pint rubbing alcohol (99%)
    1/2 cup ammonia (the original recipe said “sudsy” – whatever that is. I usually use something labeled lemon ammonia.)
    1 large glop dishwashing liquid (Palmolive green or such)
    I also use a good quality squeegee – something I learned early on, (see above)

  19. The reason I mentioned the window cleaning was unpleasant was due to the odor. I hated using whichever stuff it was. Windex is so much better.

  20. Get a Windex equivalent from the dollar store for, um, let’s see now, a single buck, and it lasts me for quite a while. Guero’s recipe seems much more expensive.

    https://www.storm-solutions.net/blog/what-makes-impact-windows-different-from-traditional-windows has a lot of info about such windows, I found nothing negative about using Windex on them.

  21. I couldn’t find anything saying you shouldn’t use Windex of those hurricane windows, but I did find some interesting info about how special that glass is. For normal glass-cleaning, Guero’s recipe seems rather expensive. I get a Windex equivalent from the dollar store for, er, um, $1.

  22. My feeling is . . . if he wants to wash windows, let him do it ANY WAY he wants to! [You’ve heard Utah Pillips’ ‘Moose Turd Pie’ talk, I’m sure; that’s how it works here – you criticize, you do it yourself.] I DO have a lifetime supply – depending on whose lifetime – of this blue stuff, and not that many insects to kill with it, so I’ll probably donate most of the bottles.

  23. Thanks for that site – I never really questioned what made them high-impact, just accepted that we wouldn’t have to evacuate during hurricanes (H. Irma was pretty drastic, but with six dogs at the time, no way was I leaving the house!) and that the previous owners had spent 30 grand to reinforce the sliders, the windows AND the fencing, and the house itself is concrete and on a small rise.

  24. Late to the thread, but zookeeper’s memory is very good that the “I don’t do windows” catchphrase dates to the 70s:

  25. Very interesting!

    Incidentally, it looks like the ngram search expanded your “don’t” into “do not”. Would that mean the same transform has been done on the data, in the underlying corpus?

  26. I’ve had four different housecleaners; my Mother was one in the early days of our coming to the US. Not ONCE did anyone utter the phrase, ‘I don’t do windows’ and, in fact, all of them did windows. I cannot imagine going into an interview with that caveat.

  27. Andréa, I don’t fully understand it either — as my previous question shows. Maybe CaroZ or another Ngram (hard not to write “engram”!) expert can clarify. Meanwhile, on a best-guess basis, notice the phrase is spelled out with three different capitalization patterns – maroon “I do not do windows”, green “I Do not Do Windows”, and orange “I do not do Windows”. It strikes me as odd that these would be kept distinct while “do not” and “don’t” were apparently merged.

  28. I said It strikes me as odd that these would be kept distinct while “do not” and “don’t” were apparently merged

    Perhaps odd, but useful for what we’re asking — the orange line, for “I do not do Windows” , could well be people joking about Microsoft Windows. And it makes sense that this twist lags behind the more literal use about housecleaning.

  29. Does this ‘prove’ that a human being didn’t (did not) have anything to do with the production of this graph? I mean, wouldn’t (would not) a human being leave it at ‘I don’t do windows’, never mind the weird capitalizations?

  30. Yes, exactly – I was wond’rin’ (wondering) if the use of that phrase spiked during the PC/Mac wars . . . I know I’ve often used it for that meaning, NOT for cleaning real windows, particularly when we had both a PC and a Mac lab in our library.

  31. Does this ‘prove’ that a human being didn’t (did not) have anything to do with the production of this graph?

    Oh, it’s almost entirely automated. Though CaroZ put in the query text and selected some parameters. Did you open in new full page? You can see some of that selection setup. (And you can work with it on your own — e.g. click on blue “Case-insensitive” to get it clear and a single line. I guess blue meant feature off??) Also, move your mouse around to see things like dates and specific numbers. Also, right click to combine all the lines.

  32. Interestingly, when I first created the plot it had a little disclaimer that it had converted “don’t” to “do not” for consistency with the way they index text. But that disclaimer doesn’t show up on the page when you click through the link I posted.

  33. We have lived in our house for 30+ years – we did replace the windows about 20 years ago, but I have never cleaned them, other than spot cleaning now and then of a problem. We keep our window shades down – other than lifting them to peek out the window at “what the heck is that noise coming from the neighbors?” or something else of interest – “is it raining now or can I go out and take in the mail?” for example.

    Strangely the job I hate the most is changing the bedding and folding the sheets after they are washed. I finally figured it out – my arms too short to do either comfortably. My arm spread is just about a yard and the sheets are all wider (and longer) than that making it very tiring to fold them or deal with putting them on the bed (especially since the room light in our bedroom is over the foot of the bed and relatively low (low ceilings) so I can’t stand at the foot (or either side) and throw the sheets (or the blankets) to spread them over the bed.

    Though since Robert is home all the time – if I start to clean a bathroom (which I don’t mind doing) – he needs THAT one, which makes the most aggravating job in the house.

    (Yes, we have turned into a comical old married couple over the years.)

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