By Ashleigh/Nov 22, 2022
An Unbelievable Number
As she lifted the envelope, she peaked what was underneath. She was startled at the sight of the new number.
She couldn’t believe what she saw and wondered if it was a joke. But her boss’s facial expression told her what she needed to know. She had been struggling in life, and this was what broke her. She asked herself how this was possible as she broke down in tears.
Tanna Marino rubbed her eyes and tried to focus on the numbers streaming across her computer monitor.
She was already on her third cup of coffee and there were at least four more in her near future. The day was already exhausting, and the end wasn’t even in sight. Suddenly, her boss poked her head into Tanna’s tiny cubicle.
Showing The Ropes
The request was simple – let a new worker shadow her for the day.
However, having to show this new person the ropes quickly formed a cold pit in her gut. It writhed and churned to the point of making her feel ill. It also made her a little angry. She had applied for a promotion, but the corporate answer was more than disappointing.
It was the cut-and-paste nonsense about limited budgets, blah, blah, blah. Just the same old, same old. An absolute disappointment, but nothing could be done about it, at least for the time being.
But standing right behind her boss was a brand-new worker – one that was apparently vying for the exact same level as Tanna. So, is this new person her cheaper replacement?
Head Down, Be Good
Working in a male-dominated field was already hard enough.
Still, she didn’t have all the facts and wasn’t going to make this woman the outlet for Tanna’s frustrations. So, she welcomed the new worker into her cubicle and went about her tasks as usual, answering any questions and even getting into a little chitchat about their personal lives.
Getting To Know Each Other
“Wait,” the woman said. “How many?!”. “Two,” Tanna confirmed. She had to work two full time jobs. Which meant she didn’t get to see her four children that much.
“So, your husband stays at home and takes care of them?” asked the woman. Tanna shook her head in response. It was another forlorn, unambiguous “No.”
Just Not Enough
Her husband also had to work a fulltime job. The triple income was barely enough to keep them afloat, including costly childcare. It was a real Catch 22.
Life just wasn’t the same as when their grandparents, even their parents, were in the workforce. Life had just gotten so expensive, but salaries didn’t match. The new worker stared off into space with a troubled expression.
Nothing Out Of The Ordinary
The rest of the day unfolded as expected.
Tanna did her job and continued to answer any questions. The woman, however, still had a troubled look on her face. Had she scared the new employee into second guessing her new position? Tanna might have wanted to keep her job, but not in an underhanded way. The shocking answer would come the very next morning.
Tanna bit her nails as she waited in a lobby she had never stepped in before.
It was much higher up in the hierarchy. The office before her didn’t belong to her boss. It was at least three steps up in the ladder. When she walked in and saw a familiar woman sitting in one of the seats, and a very serious boss on the other side of the desk, she felt like throwing up.
“Let’s get straight to it,” he said, pulling out a plain, white envelope. “I know things are hard for everyone right now, but we need to change your salary.”
Now what was that about? Tanna took a deep breath and clutched the paper. This was bad. The woman beside her didn’t give any hint of emotion.
She peeled back the lip of the envelope and pulled out the paper. She could have never guessed what was in the envelope.
The new number punched her right in the face. Her eyes went wide, and all the air left her lungs. “I … I don’t understand” she stammered. She had got a raise … and a big one! But that wasn’t all.
The rest of the note gave her more good news. She couldn’t believe what she was reading.
Not only was she getting more money, but she was also going to be allowed to work from home with far more flexible hours. “Why?” she asked, trying to hold back the tears. It was the woman beside her that held the answer.
It turned out the woman was the big boss of the entire company. She had devised a plan for a particular purpose.
She had gone undercover in a disguise to see what working conditions were like for her employees. Tanna’s story had moved her in more than one way – one that would affect so many people in the entire corporation.
Tanna was right – life had just got so expensive, and salaries didn’t match.
The owner was going to increase salaries across the board as well as implementing more flexible work hours for everyone. She wanted her workforce to be able to concentrate on their productivity instead of worrying if they had enough food to put on the table. It was a win-win for everyone.
Better For Everyone
Tanna’s tears finally came in full.
It was like an enormous weight had been lifted from her shoulders. It was even better knowing that others would have an easier time as well. She wished more bosses would do this. Imagine the amazing changes that would happen! But that wasn’t all. There was even more heading her way.
The CEO of the company, Dina Dwyer-Owens, was the first female CEO of the home services franchise company that her father had founded. Meeting Tanna had strengthened her resolve to hire more female employees as technicians and franchise owners.
The story was featured on an episode of Undercover Boss, and the positive outpouring the CEO and the company received was completely unexpected.
“The response that I got from women who watched the show was great. And many have told me that I had inspired them, which is a bit humbling,” Dina said. “I also heard the same thing from a lot of men, which did surprise me some.”
The opportunity to go undercover had given her some valuable insights into how working parents were struggling to juggle their jobs and take care of their kids in today’s economy.
Insights Into The Modern Family
“I wanted to do this because I knew it would give me a firsthand look at how our franchises operate and what employees think and feel,” she said.
“This show does offer a very unique opportunity for a CEO like me.” And the insights she was learning were really driven home when Tanna explained her predicament.
Making Ends Meet
Tanna’s job was to make service calls for a Mr. Appliance franchise, just outside Houston. Tanna told the undercover CEO that her husband was a firefighter, but she had needed to take a second job to support her four children.
Dina was stunned. That’s when she decided to give Tanna the fairytale ending she deserved.
“I was totally blown away by this woman and her dedication to her family and to her job,” Dina said.
Facebook – Tanna Marino
“She represented to me everything that our company stands for and supports. I knew that we needed more people like her working for us.” But, after all the positive changes, how is Tanna doing now?
It Keeps Getting Better
Just one year after Tanna’s work situation changed for the better, she’s gone from strength to strength – going from an appliance technician to a corporate consultant!
In her new position, she has more time than ever – precious time that she uses to spend with her family and encourage other women to get into more male-doninated fields with the “Women in the Trades” program.
The “Women in the Trades” Program
Tanna had made such a huge impression on Dina that she thought she would be perfect as the woman to light the way for other women to pursue technical positions.
In addition to the raise and hour changes, she gifted Tanna $5,000 to start a “Women in the Trades” program for other women like her.
“My life has changed in every possible way,” said Tanna. “The cash that was gifted to me allowed our family to get into a bigger home. I work from home now. I have flexible hours and the opportunity to spend time with my kids.”
“My biggest obstacle now has been trying to spread awareness of the scholarship program,” she said. “We would truly love to have more women working in all the different brands. This is a good way to get the required training.
As a part of her new position, Tanna recruits female workers into the Dwyer Group and into positions that are usually filled by men.
She wants more women to internalize the fact that they are just as capable as men in technical fields. She could never have imagined that all this would happen as she was struggling along and working two jobs!
A “Phenomenal” Experience
After the episode of Undercover Boss aired, Tanna became a bit of a celebrity. People on the street started to recognize her face from the TV show. While becoming a celebrity overnight can be a little overwhelming, Tanna’s life keeps getting better and better.
“My experience as a whole has been phenomenal. I work for a great company doing what I love,” she told the Houston Chronicle. And, when it comes down to it, that’s all she’s ever really wanted. But at the same time, a woman named Eva was also working two jobs to support her son, but she’d learn to regret it.
She had never felt angrier in her life. She decided that the only right thing to do was to talk to her son. But once she did, the truth would be out and she would be in tears.
But the events that followed wouldn’t be like anything like anyone imagined. Everyone who read about her online couldn’t believe the circumstances she was in. That’s when things got really bad.
Eva Onc, at the age of 50, found the most joy in being a mother. She put all of her efforts into her child and her community. The family was the most important thing to her.
She loved her son more than anything else in the world. She was willing to do anything for her boy, which made it even harder when he asked her for something that didn’t entirely sound innocent.
Loved Her Son
Her husband had tragically passed away, which meant she had to be a single mother. Most single mothers knew how difficult raising a son alone could be, especially when he was a troublemaker.
As his son, named Catalin, grew older, she felt like things gradually got harder for her. She hoped that the difficulties were just a phase, but she was so wrong.
Things Were Difficult
Her son was bullied as a teenager. The kids at school always bullied him about his financial situation. She couldn’t bear to let him go through.
She needed a way to support her son despite their predicament. She felt good as soon as she had managed to actually buy a stable home for her son. But she just wondered if that would stop the problems with her son.
Her Son Grows Up
His teenage years flew by, and now Catalin was 25 years old. To make matters even better, he was getting married. But the sad fact was that it was his mother that paid for most of it. She still felt obligated to, even though he was an adult.
She was happy for her son, but the problems soon started piling up. This meant that Catalin would run to his mother once again to solve his problems.
A New Life
Catalin and his new wife began a new beautiful life together. They were leaving the dream and weren’t shy about showing it. Their happiness and Catalin’s style and tattoos brought them social media fame.
He decided to tattoo almost his entire body with various symbols and messages, saying that he wanted to inspire people through his body art. People’s reaction was not what he expected them to be.
The couple was having problems already, and Catalin told his mother some grave news. He was going to move back in with her for the time being.
She was happy to have her son back home with her. Even though he was an adult, she was just grateful she was close to him again. He would always be her baby boy to her. But things would only get rockier.
Catalin and his wife didn’t have any income. They were still going through difficult times. His mother agreed to support them as she loved them both dearly, but things took an unexpected turn.
The couple’s expenses had begun to increase, and Eva wondered where all the money was going. And more importantly, if she could sustain all three of them with only her work.
Growing A Following
While things were getting worse, the young couple’s social media fame rose. Their style and inspirational posts garnered more and more followers.
This made Catalin very happy, but the dire financial situation worried his mother, who was struggling to keep them afloat. And when he asked her this, she knew things were only to get worse from then.
Catalin and his wife living with his mom meant more expenses, which Eva understood and agreed with from the beginning. That wasn’t an issue.
The problem was that Catalin began asking for more money. He complained that it was never enough and that he and his wife needed more to live well. His mother came up with a solution in the end.
Eva understood the situation and decided to look for an extra job to support her entire family. She knew it wouldn’t be easy to support three people, but she never expected this much struggle.
She was now working two jobs for the sake of her son’s wellbeing. She believed that she had no choice and it was her duty to help her son no matter what. But when she found out why he needed extra money, things changed.
The Reason Why
Catalin and his wife continued to enjoy success on social media. Their followers kept growing, and they wanted to show even more awesome things. So they started to travel and showcase amazing photos from incredible destinations.
However, they always say that good things don’t last forever, and this was no exception. It wouldn’t take long before things went ashtray.
Catalin and his wife needed more money to keep posting this type of content, and since his only source was his mother, it all fell on her.
When she found out how she was spending the money from her two extra jobs, she flipped out and quit one of them immediately. She only agreed to continue to pay for essentials from then on. Catalin didn’t like it one bit.
Since his mother didn’t pay for his trips anymore, he started a GoFundMe campaign, trying to raise 16.000USD for a trip to Africa. The people on social media were quick to react. And it wasn’t pretty. People also found out he was funding his travels from his mom’s two jobs until then.
Everyone told the couple to go get a job or that maybe they should start a GoFundMe for his mother instead. The couple never expected this kind of backlash.
The infamous influencer told his followers he would be “stepping away” from social media for a while to do some “soul work.” In the post captioned “Look within,” Catalin explained he would be doing the hardest thing he’d ever done mentally and physically.
“Here it is. I am going on a walk. I will walk as long as I possibly can. No sleep, no social media, no distractions,” he said.
Catalin said he was ready to face whatever was buried deep inside him. “Time to do some soul work.” However, his followers weren’t as understanding or convinced of his social media detox.
Another Beautiful Day – Instagram
“Let’s be honest, you’re stepping away from social media because of all the flak you’re getting for begging normal people to pay for your lifestyle,” one person commented. He couldn’t catch a break anymore.
Despite “quitting” social media, the influencer who begged followers for $16k to fund a cycling trip across Africa has returned to Instagram in less than a week.
But after six days of “soul work,” Catalin has now posted a new video to Instagram, which shows him writing on a piece of paper before holding it up to the screen. “Sometimes it’s better to say nothing,” it reads before he drops it and forms a love-heart shape with his fingers.
“No one is taking you seriously anymore,” one person commented. “Instead of saying nothing, maybe realize that asking people to go fund your holiday to ‘make a difference’ was naive and a little narcissistic,” another added.
The couple’s main reason for asking for funding, they claimed, was that getting a ‘real job’ would be ‘detrimental’ to their work. But their plea for funds didn’t sit well with many of the couple’s followers.
Getting A Job Is Not An Option
“Some will just tell us to get jobs, like everyone else and stop begging. But when you have the impact we do on others’ lives, getting a job is not an option,” they said on an Instagram post.
“We could model and make fast money, but we don’t want to advertise consumerism. A normal job at this point would be detrimental.”
“Your mum works two jobs to pay for your trip, don’t you think that’s impacting her mental health? It’s sad this isn’t all a joke, the self importance you have is ridiculous,” said one of the couple’s followers.
Another added:”‘Or, like, you know, get a job and pay for your little cycling trip yourself?” However, the couple still offered another argument in an attempt to defend themselves.
“This is how I feel when people make money the biggest topic. Having tattoos, a pretty girlfriend and followers on Instagram opens doors for us, it’s true,” Catilin said.
“We could live a lavish lifestyle and only show that, like most people on social media do. We choose not to. We have seen how people are around us when we have money and when we don’t. Grateful that we get to see both sides of the spectrum. I wish you all could experience this”
“Some people are quick to judge and speak. At this very moment we don’t have much, we are accepting money from my mother and also donations but we don’t hide that. This situation is teaching us a lot.”
But this line of defense infuriated some of the couple’s followers even more. This is what one of them said in response:
Not The First Time
“I like you both a lot and have been following your posts for a while now but I just don’t really get how this helps people with mental health issues like myself?”
“This just seems like an adventure and a fun trip for you both and it has no significant reason to help anyone else in any way.” However, this isn’t the first time something like this has happened.
Any time we open Instagram or other social media, we can see plenty of people, both influencers and average Joe’s and Jane’s, flaunting their seemingly perfect lives for everyone to see.
And quite often, those types of posts suggest to people one burning question: how do they even fund that lavish lifestyle? Who’s paying for all of that?
On more than one occasion, influencers who seem to be well-off by the image they project on their social media have been exposed as broke freeloaders.
That’s what happened recently to Elle Darby, a British influencer who got exposed by an irate hotel owner whose post has gone viral and been seen by millions of people.
Elle Darby has been famous in the UK for quite some time. She started off as a fitness vlogger and then became an influencer; as a matter of fact, one of the most popular ones in Britain.
Getting invited to hotels and restaurants for free, on the condition that she featured them on her social media, became something usual for Elle. Until one day, when things didn’t go the way she was used to.
It all started when Elle wrote an email to The Charleville Lodge Hotel, in Dublin, expressing her interest in staying there for a few nights for free. This is what her email said:
“I’m emailing in regards to a possible collaboration on social media. I work as a social media influencer, mainly lifestyle, beauty, and travel based. My partner and I are planning to come to Dublin for four days to explore the area. As I was searching for places to stay, I came across your stunning hotel and would love to feature you in my Youtube videos to bring traffic to your hotel.”
The Hotel’s Response
Instead of replying to Elle’s email directly, the hotel’s owner decided to take it to Facebook. He wrote a public post addressing Elle’s suggestion, and this is what he said:
“Thank you for your email looking for free accommodation in return for exposure. It takes a lot of guts to send an email like that, if not much self-respect and dignity.”
Who’s Going To Pay?
“If I let you stay here in return for a feature in your video, who is going to pay the staff who look after you? Who is going to pay the housekeeper to clean your room? The waiters who serve you breakfast? The receptionist who checks you in?”
“Who is going to pay for the light and heat you use during your stay? The laundering of your sheets? The water rates? Maybe I should tell my staff they will be featured on your video instead of receiving payment for work carried out while you’re here?”
“Luckily for us, we have a large social media following. But Jesus Christ, I would never in a million years ask anyone for anything for free.”
“In the future, I advise you to offer to pay your way like everyone else, and if the hotel believes your coverage will help them, maybe they’ll give you a complimentary update to a suite. This would show more self-respect on your part and, let’s face it, it would be less embarrassing to you.”