Michael Cox and his son go to great heights on the job, even wearing superhero costumes when they’re on the job at Seattle Children’s hospital.
Ladders are dangerous.
Using them is far more dangerous than skydiving or rappelling, says Michael Cox. “They’re the unsafest things.”
Cox washes building windows and tempered-glass awnings. He rappels from the roof or stands atop an awning.
“The first time I was lowered over the edge in a boatswain’s chair, I said ‘This is for me.’ I bought my equipment that same day.”
That was more than four decades ago.
“I’m not an inside guy.”
He loves the feeling being outside, looking at the landscapes and working with his sons. (But skydiving is no longer in the equation for the 64-year-old.)
He also loves doing work few others do. The biggest problem is wind, not rain — “unless it’s pouring down.”
On this day, on top of a glass awning in Pioneer Square, he and son Aaron are scrubbing it clean.
They have to move aside the metal grates installed for protection from seagulls that have been dropping stones off the graveled roof.
It’s a behavior often seen on a beach, where gulls drop shellfish to crack them open. But why the gulls like to drop stones is known only to them. Certainly they must know they’re not clams or mussels.
When they clean the windows outside the cafeteria at Seattle Children’s hospital, Michael and Aaron will occasionally dress as Spiderman and Ironman. Or play tic-tac-toe in the soap suds with a patient inside.
The biggest hazard he’s faced was when he was “twice hit by a peregrine falcon on top of my head. Felt like it was a 2-by-4.”
Blood was coming from the top of his head so he called it a day. Turns out the bird’s fresh kill was on a nearby ledge.
He has no fear of heights but does have a cautious side, continually checking the ropes and the knots — a double figure 8, a bowline, a bowline and a bite, a grapevine — and the equipment.
He has no superstitions. But, to be on the safe side, best not to walk under ladders.