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The Wages of Sun

Every summer, the East End turns into one big service economy. Here’s how the Hamptons’ other half lives.

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Caroline Purcell, housekeeper
Amagansett

Are you from the Hamptons?
No, Ireland. I came for a friend’s wedding nine years ago and ended up staying. Back there I was a sewing machinist.

How’d you become a housekeeper?
A friend asked me to clean with her. Then I got my own small jobs, and it was word-of-mouth from there. I get anywhere from $75 an hour on up.

What’s the best way to make money?
Just get in and out as quick as you can. Big jobs I charge by the hour. Smaller ones I charge by the house. A small house, I’m done in two hours.

What’s the biggest house you’ve had to clean?
Ross Bleckner, he’s a big house. I go there three times a week: once for his guest house and twice for his house.

Are there any jobs you refuse?
The renters I usually find very hard to deal with. They just leave things. Like food on the counter, and when you get to it, ants are all over it.

What’s the worst thing you’ve found in a share house?
Used condoms in bed, of course. But what can you do? You’re there to clean.


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