There are many people in the United States who have a job that they do with great dedication and barely make ends meet. These people are known as The Working Poor. Angel, a young single mother of three, is one of these people. However, Angel was not always a Working Poor. In fact, she went on to become an entrepreneur and set up her own business single-handedly.
Angel was a lover of food, more specifically Italian food. Her grandparents were Italian immigrants who came to the United States in search of a new life like so many others and created their small family Pizzeria in the borough of Queens. When Angel was a little girl, her favorite pastime was helping her grandmother prepare the pizza dough. She could spend hours kneading it without getting tired, and the older she got, the better she got at it, and the more she learned about Italian cooking and its secrets.
As Angel grew older, it was clear to her that she didn’t want to do anything else. After finishing high school, she started working part-time at the pizzeria while studying a course in business management and accounting. Her intention was to help improve the business and increase turnover as her grandparents were starting to get older and had hardly any knowledge on the subject. “Don’t worry, Grandma. With everything I learned in the course, I will be able to help you get your business off the ground and increase sales. I have lots of ideas,” Angel would tell her grandparents as she studied and worked part-time with them.
“You are full of dreams and energy, my child, but the truth is that we are finding it harder and harder to pay the bills at the end of the month. What little money we have left for ourselves is scarce. I don’t want that for you, honey,” her worried grandmother told her as she saw that the restaurant was starting to fall apart. “That won’t happen to me. That’s what I’m studying for. Let me help you, and you’ll see how together we’ll manage to keep the business afloat. Have faith, Grandma,” she encouraged her, who was very excited about what the future had in store for her.
But the reality was quite different. Over the years, the business passed into the hands of Angel’s parents, and when they retired, Angel remained in charge of the pizzeria. For her, running the pizzeria was a dream come true. Although the joy was short-lived, Angel knew that it was very difficult to succeed in a city like New York, especially if your business was a pizzeria. There were hundreds of restaurants selling pizza all over the city and at a much more affordable price than hers.
During that time, as she met the man who would later become her husband and the father of her three children, Arnold, Angel fell madly in love with him, and they married a year after they met. Arnold did not want to be actively involved in the Family Pizzeria business, although he always helped them when needed. While Angel worked at the pizzeria more hours than she would like, he began to carve out a successful career as an engineer at a successful technology company.
Despite working in totally different worlds, their marriage was going very well, and they had three wonderful children in less than five years. First came the two boys, Steve and Oliver, and finally, the youngest child of the house, Carrie. Angel loved being a mother and tried to spend as much time as she could with them, but sometimes it was impossible, as restaurant schedules were difficult to combine with raising three young children. It was precisely her absence and that of her husband, who was spending less and less time at home because of his continuous business trips, that led them to end their marriage. Both were so focused on their respective professional careers that they forgot to take care of their relationship, and by the time they wanted to realize it, there was nothing left to save.
Angel was left with custody of the children, since after separating, she discovered that her husband had not been faithful to her, and that all those times he told her he was not coming home, it had not been for business. From that moment on, Angel’s life began to fall apart. Before she knew it, she had become a separated mother who had been cheated on by her husband, with three young children to care for and a declining business. Nothing seemed to be going right for her, and though she tried hard to fix it, the good news just wasn’t coming.
When her parents handed over the management of the restaurant to her, Angel wanted to renovate it and give it a more modern look. But to do so, she had to ask for a new loan from the bank and increase the debt she already had.
Her grandparents and her father had already passed away, and her mother was very ill at the time, so there was no one left to ask for help. The result of all the investment she made was not what she expected.
Far from it, the restaurant was getting emptier and emptier, and they barely made ends meet. The situation kept getting worse, and by the end of the year, the debts were so large that the bank ended up seizing the restaurant and Angel’s house, which she had put up as collateral to pay them off.
And so it was, as a dreamy and energetic woman, she ended up completely ruined, with no home, no business, and three children in her care who kept asking her questions. For the first few months after the foreclosure, Angel kept changing jobs endlessly, none of them lasting long enough, and all of them paying so little that she couldn’t afford a week’s food for her and her children.
Finally, after several unsuccessful job interviews, Angel found a job that she liked and that paid a halfway decent salary. She was hired by a large telephone company and would work as a sales and training coordinator. Her job was basically to ensure that the operators met the weekly targets set by the company and to guide the new recruits during their first weeks of work.
After two years working there, Angel was very happy with her new job, even though it was not what she had planned for her life and had nothing to do with what she had been doing until then. She liked the job, and the work environment was quite pleasant. The only problem she had was the salary. With what she earned, she could not afford to buy a new apartment and was forced to continue living in a shelter with her three children – a dramatic situation that no one had noticed, which made her and her children feel very unhappy.
“Why do we have to live in a shelter, Mom? If you have a job, we should be able to live in a house like everyone else. Why can’t we?” her youngest daughter asked her one day.
“Mom had to sell everything to pay off her debts, honey. This is temporary. As soon as I get a better job, we can leave, I promise,” she assured her, although the reality was that she had no idea how she would manage to change her disastrous financial situation.
Angel felt that everything she did in her life was doomed to failure, and she resigned herself to continue working in that company despite the terrible salary conditions it offered her. But her luck was about to change, although she didn’t know it yet. One morning, she received a call from administration informing her that she would have to help a new employee who joined the sales team that day and teach them all about the job.
The man she was to help was Joey, a middle-aged man who, like her, urgently needed to find a job to pay off his debts and support his family. What she didn’t know was that this man was actually the CEO of the company, and he had decided to infiltrate one of its branches to see how the business worked from the ground up. Joey’s mission was to pose as an apprentice and film the whole thing for a famous TV show.
Angel was randomly chosen to show him how the business worked, and the diligence and kindness she demonstrated while explaining the job to him left him very impressed. Another aspect Joey was looking for when he went undercover was to get to know his employees better and how they felt about their jobs. To do this, he had to empathize with them and become a colleague they could trust, which was extremely easy to do when he met Angel. After several weeks, their relationship as co-workers was excellent. They connected seamlessly and trusted each other so much that they both explained aspects of their private lives that they hadn’t shared with anyone else.
“You know, Angel, when I came to work for this company, I had nothing. I lost my carpentry business, and debts ended up leaving my bank accounts in the red. Finding this job has been a real miracle for me,” Joey told her, trying to get her to open up and tell him more about her past. The program wanted some intimate moments between the boss and his employees, and Joey had no problem getting it.
Although Joey had no idea how intimate those conversations would be, Angel’s response left him speechless. “I completely understand how you feel, Joey. In fact, I went through exactly the same thing. And currently, I’m still unable to afford a house to live in with my three children. I know it’s not ideal, but at the moment, I can’t give them anything better,” Angel confessed with a lot of embarrassment.
“You also had a business, and you went bankrupt. You live with your three children in your car. How’s it possible?” Joey asked with curiosity. He did not expect such a sincere answer and wanted to know more about his employee’s situation.
“That’s right. I used to own a pizzeria, but I went bankrupt, and the bank repossessed it. And we live in a shelter because, although I like this job very much, the salary is too low to be able to pay the rent for an apartment. Everything I earn, we spend on food, clothes, and their education. But we manage it well. For me, the most important thing is that my children are well, and that they never lack food. The rest is secondary. I know it will get better. Don’t you want to leave your job and look for something better?” the man asked incredulously.
“You may think it’s ridiculous, but I feel valued here, and I love what I do. After my tremendous business failure, I needed to feel this way. This company is wonderful to its employees, and although the salaries can be improved, the working conditions are unbeatable. And I’m sure you like working here too. You’ll see, you’ll never be alone here, Joey, and if you need anything, don’t hesitate to ask me,” Angel told him, patting him affectionately on the back and giving him a big smile, even though she had just confessed to him that she lived in a shelter with her family.
The filming of the program went on, but after that conversation with Angel, the head of the company could not stop thinking about her and her family. The story she told him made him very emotional, and he wanted to do something to help this kind woman who had been so unlucky in life and who spoke so highly of his company.
The end of the filming took place in the office of the CEO of the company, and what would happen during that last take would not only change the lives of Angel and her children but also the CEO. That morning, Angel was paged to rush to the CEO’s office. Hearing her name being called from the boss’s office, Angel was startled. She didn’t understand anything and rushed as fast as she could to find out what it was about. Even though she couldn’t imagine what would happen next, as she entered the office, Angel was speechless. Standing in front of her was the supposedly new employee she had spent the last few weeks with and had become very good friends with. She didn’t understand anything that was going on, but before she could say anything, he explained it all to her.
“Dear Angel, I know you will feel very confused now, and you might even be a little angry with me for deceiving you. But it was all for a good cause, I assure you. Let me explain it to you, and you’ll understand everything,” he said apologetically as Angel tried to collect her thoughts and sat down in a nearby chair.
During that last conversation, Angel learned that the man was actually her boss and that his name was not Joey but Model. He explained that he had been so impressed with the way she performed her job that she deserved better and had decided to promote her to assistant manager with an annual raise of fourteen thousand dollars. But that wasn’t all. Model told her that he could not tolerate an employee as brilliant as she was still living in a homeless shelter with three children. So he did something incredible.
He presented her with a big check for two hundred and fifty thousand dollars and told her in tears, “I want you out of there immediately. Tonight, take your family out of that shelter and buy yourself the nicest house you can find. You deserve it, Angel. Someone as good and intelligent as you doesn’t deserve to go through any more hardships. It’s over. From now on, you will have the life you deserve, and you will never go hungry again.”
Model told her very excitedly, at the same time he hugged her. Angel did not know what to say. She had also started to cry and felt so much joy that she felt she could not contain it. After that day, Angel never had to spend another night in a shelter. She became the assistant manager of the company, and together with Model, they worked hard to improve the salary conditions of all employees so that no one would have to live in the same situation as Angel.
Angel and her children now live happily in a beautiful home in the borough of Manhattan and have never again had to suffer for not making ends meet. The story of Angel and her boss is an example of how sacrifice and perseverance always pay off. Angel did not lose hope and kept betting on her dreams, despite having lost everything. She’s an example to follow for all those who are going through a rough patch right now and cannot find a way out. Her story is proof that in this life, if you dream and make an effort, anything is possible.
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