The Body Shop

Some people are born lucky while others are not and Henry was most definitely part of the latter group. Being out of work and soon to be homeless, this wasn’t how Henry had envisioned the start of his adult life. His sister was moving to Spain to be with her boyfriend and was selling her flat which meant Henry had to find somewhere else to live. But first, he needed to find a job.

After realising academia was not for him Henry had left school at 16 armed with a very strong grade C in Art. He hadn’t yet decided what he wanted to do and had planned on seeing what kind of jobs he was offered before deciding upon the most lucrative and using his wages to buy his one place. Unfortunately the numerous offers of employment that Henry had envisioned were not very forthcoming and he had spent the last few months applying for any and all jobs that came along. Sadly he was either; too young, lacked experience or wasn’t what they were looking for. Things had been starting to get desperate when, on one of his daily trudges down to the job centre he spotted an advert for a clerk at The Body Shop.

Despite lacking any experience, being unable to type, and not having any real interest in cars Henry applied for the job anyway. So it came as a complete surprise when the manager of The Body Shop phoned up to offer him the job. Henry couldn’t believe his uncharacteristic good luck and he had accepted it there and then.

It might turn into something rewarding, he thought to himself as he sat alone behind the Reception desk. This could be a way into mechanics; he could learn the trade, work up to a place in the garage and one day run his own business. He just needed to get some enthusiasm about cars first but that shouldn’t be too difficult. He felt hopeful about his new career but as the first week and then the second week went by without seeing a single engine, his grand dreams started to look a little more distant.

So far he had spent his time just sat in Reception placing orders for customers, taking phone calls and filling in forms. Every time a new order came though, he would pass it to someone in the warehouse to be processed. He wasn’t permitted into the warehouse himself yet and he often wondered what lay behind that plain white door to the side of Reception with the stern sign that read “Authorised Personnel Only”. He could hear muffled voices talking from inside but they weren’t the usual coarse banter Henry associated with garages. This was a specialist operation and so the staff probably had to maintain a high level of professionalism at all times. There was a peculiar smell that came through the door when someone leaned through to take the order sheets. It must be some kind of motor oil or grease, Henry concluded, he would learn all about it in time. He wanted to go back and look but he needed to stay out here manning Reception in case a customer came in. To the public, Henry was the face of The Body Shop, the manager had explained.

Although he was always friendly and extremely polite Henry wasn’t sure if his was the face that the company should really be promoting though. But saying that, his acne was starting to clear up now beneath his glasses and his extraordinary good luck was still with him: Thanks to a chance conversation with one of his customers he now had a room to rent. His new land lady, Mrs Mildred, was a charming old dear who would come in most days to pick up a parcel. She didn’t seem the type to be interested in the automotive industry but nevertheless the warehouse would have a package waiting for her behind the Reception desk most mornings before Henry arrived. So whenever he saw it he knew she would be in later that day. She was as frail as anything but her eyes sparkled with the kind of mischief that only old ladies could get away with.

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