PASADENA, Calif. — Late last week, Maria Zamorano, 50, picked up her cellphone to check her messages. “Hi, plz cancel our cleaning for tomorrow,” said one. “Maria, I’m going to have to cancel tomorrow’s cleaning. Thank you,” said another.
The housekeeper had been receiving similar texts all week, every one of them a cancellation from homeowners on whom she depends to make a living — swabbing their toilets, vacuuming their carpets and shining their floors.
“I’ll go crazy with despair,” said Ms. Zamorano, just before another text popped up on the screen. “Oh my God, she canceled, too,” she said, glaring at the device in a pink leather wallet that matched her pink nails. That message summed up the uncertain outlook: “Once the country is healthy from the virus, we can reschedule. Please be safe.”
Household help, often performed by undocumented immigrants like Ms. Zamorano, has become a fixture of American homes. In a thriving economy, even middle-class families have been able to hand off their mops, brooms and lawn mowers to low-paid workers from Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala and other countries. With reliable caregivers at home, many dual-income couples have raised children while building high-powered careers.
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