Returning To Work
It was a time of change in Scott’s life, but nothing would change his life like the encounter near the toilets.
Following redundancy he was starting a new job in a new location, where he’d have to make new friends. Everyone seemed perfectly pleasant, everyone that is except, well, Francoise, but she was no ordinary woman.
Scott arrived at his new place of work on Monday morning, early and wearing suit and tie. The latter was not to last, but he thought it best to show willing, at least in the early stages. The receptionist gave him a warm welcome and called HR to announce his arrival.
“It’s a lovely outlook,” he said, referring to pleasant rural views through the smart glass and metal of the front and reception of the building.
“Looks lovely, but smells horrible,” was the receptionist’s reply.
“What, the fields?” He pointed out through the windows.
She laughed. “No, inside, here in reception! We don’t know what causes it, but sometimes it really honks.”
These were the offices of Gladwell Health, a wholly owned subsidiary of a German pharmaceutical business based in Dusseldorf . The wealth and cleanliness of the business was reflected in the building and its immediate surroundings.
“How strange.” Scott didn’t know what else to say.
He pondered on why impressions are so important. His smart suit and tie hid a body much like anyone else’s, in the same way that the smart front and bright reception of the building concealed the same type of people, doing the same type of jobs as you would find in just about any other business.
A modern artistic fountain which enjoyed the early morning sun and glittered with the gentle cascade of water over the precipitous top edge, further demonstrated the contrast between appearance and function. The shiny metallic surface hid the pump and pipes that brought the water to the top before it repeated its journey back to the base, much as the shiny front of the building hid the industrious interior.
The Human Resources manager, Donna, came to greet him.
“We’re on the first floor.” She led him upstairs and showed him to his desk, which sat in a spacious open area with lots of light and a pleasing atmosphere. “Make yourself at home. I’ll be back in a minute with your pass-card.”
The clean and pleasant surroundings made him feel comfortable, happy that he had agreed to take this post, and so his next encounter came as some considerable surprise.
He had nipped off to the toilets, and like everything else in the building they were of the top order, clean, bright with lots of mirrors. The floor was polished stone, the soap dispensers were automatic and the hand dryer gave out such a strong blast of air that it was safer to stand sideways so that you didn’t get blown off your feet. He checked his tie in the mirror and ran a hand through his tousled mousey hair. His blue-grey eyes looked bright even amidst the many lights and reflective surfaces.
The short hallway that led from the main corridor to both sets of toilets was wide, carpeted and dimly lit, feeling more like a night-club than an office. As he opened the door to the main corridor he nearly fell over the small chicken coming in the opposite direction.