Roko Camaj

Roko Camaj
World Trade Center

Working Atop the World

Roko Camaj had a job few would envy: window washer at the World Trade Center. Several times a year, suspended 1,300 feet above earth, he and his partner would suds up the 107th floor windows, the highest windows on the building and too wide for the building's automated window-washing system. The rest of the year, he operated the machines that crawled down the side of the buildings. ''He wasn't scared of anything,'' said his brother, Kole Camaj. ''He had no fear.'' For years, Roko's wife thought he washed only window interiors, until she saw a newspaper account of his job. When she learned the truth, Kole Camaj said, she was furious. Roko would remind her how safe his job was, that the basket and his harness were both well tethered to the building. His son, Vincent, said his father loved his job and considered it an escape. ''He'd always say, 'It was me and the sky up here. I bother no one, and no one bothers me.' ''

Last Monday, Roko, 60, an Albanian immigrant, returned home from a vacation to Montenegro, a birthday present from his daughter. All five Camaj brothers, most of them scattered around the globe, had taken the voyage together. ''It was a great pleasure,'' Kole Camaj said. ''Everyone was so happy.''

Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on September 21, 2001.

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