Created By: ElodieHiras on July 1, 2011 Last Edited By: Arivne on October 9, 2016

Trafic Light Ambush

The people who wait at the trafic lights to get money from you.

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You are going to work in your car. On the way, you stop at a red trafic light. And then, people come up with bottle of so called cleading product and a scrapper, and offer you to clean (or, more accurately, dirty) your windshield for a coin.

Congratulations! You just fell prey to a Trafic Light Ambush.

This trope is not restricted to windshield "cleaners", but also include all similar panhandling (Selling flowers at the trafic lights...)


Web Comics:

Western Animation:
  • Family Guy's earliest backstory for Brian had him meeting Peter by doing this to him, prior to Negative Continuity kicking in. Brian dirtied up Peter's window, and when Peter didn't have any money to pay him, he offered to bring Brian home for dinner with Lois and the family.

Real Life:
  • Homeless people are commonly believed to do this.

Community Feedback Replies: 14
  • July 1, 2011
    And this is a trope... how? Is it a character archetype? What are the related tropes? Similar archetypes?

    Or is that all just an elaborate way of complaining about RL aspects you don't like?
  • July 1, 2011
    I've never heard of this. Too Rare To Trope?
  • July 1, 2011
    Maybe we could expand this to all instances of being ambushed at traffic lights/being stuck in traffic?
  • July 1, 2011
    Never heard of this before.
  • July 1, 2011
    This trope, if such it is, would only be common in Urban environments.

    It's generally a homeless person trying to "earn" their money from donations by doing some form of work rather than just begging for it. But at least in NY (where I'm from), where I saw it happening, they were actually using dollar store type paper towels and bottles of dollar store windex, so it was genuinely an attempt to clean the windshield, rather than dirtying it.

    And the Jerk Ass will turn on his own windshieldwasher to dissuade the windshield spray person. Often timing it so their own washer sprays the homeless person.

    But going by Bisected8's suggestion -- here in Atlanta, we have traffic light ambushers who:
    • Try to sell you newspapers
    • Get you to donate to the Police and Fire Departments
    • Try to get you to buy flowers for Mother's Day or Valentine's Day
  • July 1, 2011
    • Came up on Seinfeld: they were in a taxi and the driver shooed away someone who tried to clean his windshild.
    • Paroidied on The Simpsons: the family is looking for a lawyer so they go to a corner where a bunch of lawyers start wiping the windows with their degrees.
  • July 1, 2011
    On Tiny Toon Adventures, Donald Trump is seen doing this because it's "tax-free income".
  • July 1, 2011
    From what I've heard on the radio drivers here in Manhattan indeed deal with this crap very often. However, it isn't referenced all that much.
  • July 1, 2011
    The ambusher can also be real Jerk Ass if they stand in front of your car and refuse to move until you pay them, even if you didn't ask for a cleaning or pleaded with them not to.
  • October 9, 2016
    • I'm Gonna Git You Sucka. While Hammer and Slammer are driving, they come to a stop sign. A group of homeless men armed with squeegees and bottles of cleaner climb on top of the car and start trying to clean the windows. Hammer angrily drives away, causing several of the men to fall off the car.
    • The Fugitive. Dr. Nichols is driving away from his club and comes to a stop light. A homeless man comes over and starts cleaning his window. Dr. Nichols waves the man off and says "Not today, please."
  • July 2, 2011
    I agree with the above, this needs to be expanded to cover more than just people who "clean" windshields, but rather include all manner of traffic light ambushers. Probably should be connected to tropes regarding homelessness, street bums, pan-handlers, etc...

    • An example of the windshield "cleaner" variety happens in second The Fast And The Furious movie where one of the protagonists ambushes a lurking car whose driver was attempting to spy on the protagonists. He adds an extra twist to it as his spray bottle was filled with rubbing alcohol that he lights on fire after spraying the windshield.
  • July 3, 2011
    On Family Guy this is how Peter and Brian met.
  • October 8, 2016
    Whoops, misread the description. Disregard this post.
  • October 9, 2016
    • Examples section
      • Added a line separating the Description and Examples section.

    Darths And Droids is a Zero Context Example and violates Weblinks Are Not Examples. It has been marked as such. It needs more information to show how it fits the trope.