Cumberland woman an unknowing contestant on 'Undercover Boss'

Cumberland woman an unknowing contestant on 'Undercover Boss'

CUMBERLAND - A Cumberland mother of three said she had one of the best experiences of her life while filming an episode of CBS' "Undercover Boss" this summer at the Alfred Angelo Bridal salon in North Attleboro, Mass.

But you'll just have to take her word for it.

The part of the dedicated employee surprised to learn she had been training not a reality TV show contestant, but her company's president, played by Sandra (Gomes) Jackson, eventually ended up on the cutting room floor.

Four other unknowing contestants tricked by CBS into thinking they were evaluating the performance of a stranger were featured on last Friday's episode of the show when Alfred Angelo President Paul Quentel went undercover to see how his business was working on the ground floor of some of its 62 U.S. locations.

Jackson was the only one cut, even after both she and Quentel found gowns for their brides that day, but she still gets to keep the prize money she earned by making a positive impression on her boss, who was pretending to be an aspiring business owner in a competition against other budding entrepreneurs.

"We had a really special moment," she said, after he sold his bride a dress. "He ended up crying. It was so fantastic. It really warmed my heart."

For a job well done, a $5,000 college fund was established for each of Jackson's three children, ages 7, 6 and 2. After telling Quentel she was considering leaving her dream job as a bridal stylist because she could only get 12 hours of work a week, even while she was pulling the highest sales numbers at the branch, he granted her a full-time position, with benefits, plus a promotion to lead stylist.

"No job has ever guaranteed my hours," said Jackson, who added that she did not attend college after graduating from Cumberland High School in 2003. "I can sleep soundly knowing my paychecks will be steady no matter what."

He also told her there would be better communication established between branches and corporate so ideas like Jackson's to serve beverages to customers or hang expensive dresses on wooden hangers would be heard.

Jackson said she was crying so much during Quentel's reveal that she can barely remember what he said. That's the only disappointing part about not being featured on the show, she said.

"I wish I wasn't crying as much. I wasn't even thinking clearly to take it all in," Jackson said.

Jackson suspects she was not ultimately chosen to appear on air because other Alfred Angelo employees had more emotional stories to share.

One woman was hearing impaired, and another used to be homeless. A manager of one store had planned her dream wedding, but could not afford it. The man who represented Alfred Angelo at wedding expos had dreams of going to school for a career in fashion.

"The other four people are wicked deserving," Jackson said, adding that she has been lucky enough to have had "an awesome childhood" and "a really great family."

"I'm happy to have been a part of the experience."

Jackson was selected following an interview for a potential reality show, she was told, conducted at the North Attleboro store, in the same Route 1 plaza as Old Navy and Panera Bread, in July.

While her coworkers were in and out of their interviews in a matter of minutes, "I was the longest one in there," Jackson said.

"I was talking his ear off. I told him how obsessed I was with that job and how lucky I was to have found it," Jackson said.

She had just been hired two months prior, but she said she was already more passionate about it than any other job she had ever had. She would even sleep with the Alfred Angelo catalog under her pillow.

"I could see myself doing it for the rest of my life," Jackson said. "I took it really seriously."

It was the Fourth of July when she got the call that she had been chosen for the show created under a bogus name.

But Jackson said she became wary upon looking into the company, which she said had a bare bones website and no phone numbers. A cousin of her husband, Hugh Jackson, drove by the company's alleged address in Hollywood and only found mailboxes. He warned Jackson that this could be a scam.

But she proceeded cautiously, finding producers had an answer for all of her questions of skepticism. She flew to Virginia by herself to speak to judges about the contestant's performance.

"I had my fingers crossed and pepper spray in my purse," Jackson said, laughing. "I even told the driver, I said, 'Please don't kill me.'"

But it was at the Virginia manor that she was the one surprised, meeting her boss face-to-face and receiving feedback many employees of large corporations could only dream of.

"He said, 'You are fantastic at your job. I wish everyone could see you work,'" Jackson said.

"I just wish I could've seen that," Jackson said, as well as the one-on-one interviews conducted privately.

"I would've loved to have seen him talking about me."