Soapy water splashes as window washer Virgil Pop of Prospect Heights prepares to spend the next four hours staring at his reflection.
A pair of ear buds dangles from over the top of his shirt as he works. He's passing the time by listening to audiobooks and sermons, which provide a different perspective on his life and the world that surrounds him. The 27-year-old ponders his life goals as he cleans windows on his Northwest suburban route.
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Born in 1985 in Transylvania, the historical central region of Romania, Pop excelled at soccer. Although his dream of playing soccer in high school and beyond brought him to the United States in 2002, it became clear his calling was more in line with the footsteps of his father, Dinu, who was a pastor.
After playing soccer his junior and senior years at then Norwood Park Christian School (now Logos Christian Academy in Niles), he earned his bachelor of arts degree in biblical studies at Moody Bible.
These days he's working to further his education with graduate studies at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, funding that education one window at a time. Pop dismisses the notion his job isn't worthy of respect or that somehow doesn't matter. He says ultimately he would like to become a chaplain in the U.S. Navy.
"There are seasons in our lives when we are called to do certain things," Pop says, with his Christian faith having convinced him that this is where he needs to be and what he needs to do for the moment.
In addition to his schooling, he also supports his wife through his job with First Impressions, a company based in Long Grove. He considers his work there as a gathering of life's stories and experiences that will touch him later no matter where God's path takes him.
With more than 40 clients from Morton Grove to Glenview to Mount Prospect, he washes more than 100 windows daily in weather ranging from frigid to sweltering. His technique was picked up by watching his predecessor and the simple innovation of using a towel to wipe the watery window sills.
Pop shares his views with clients and others while on the job, and he believes that most people are searching to fill a void in their lives that only God can fill.
"When I meet the Lord, the Lord's comment of 'Well done' will be enough, Pop says, "Everything beyond that will be gravy."