Imelda works for a cleaning service. In the early morning, six days a week, she gets picked up by a coworker who drives her to Atherton, one of the wealthiest towns in America. To reach the houses she cleans, she often passes through huge metal gates, up driveways flanked by fruit trees and security cameras. There have been days, she says, when she’s worked in eight of them. A recent pay stub logs her hours, including overtime, amounting to $1,122 for two weeks’ work.
With housing prices what they are, Imelda lives in a trailer in a friend’s driveway. She has no utilities in the trailer, so she goes in and out of her friend’s cottage to use the bathroom and kitchen-which are crowded, because there are three generations living there. In Imelda’s sink sits a strainer of persimmons and guavas, gifts from the people whose houses she’s cleaned.