Age: 38 | Location: London, UK
The Salesman didn’t always want to be a salesman. He wanted to be a marine biologist.
‘I think it was growing up in the 90s. That’s when TV started to get interesting, with documentaries. I remember watching David Attenborough stuff, and I think I just fell in love with it. I was like, oh that’s really amazing.’
Realizing his admission, he brushes it off.
‘Why didn’t I do it? I don’t know. Probably forgot.’
Now, he works in sales and marketing for a water technology company. I wonder how this happened. I wonder what brought him here.
I ask him what the best part of his job is, hoping I might find out, and he lets out a big gruff sigh. This tells me everything I need to know.
Eventually he comes up with an answer: ‘You get to work in an industry that makes a difference. That’s the bumper sticker response but I think it’s true as well.’
Perhaps it’s about convenience. The Salesman has lived in London since he was four years old and has absolutely no desire to move.
'This is going to sound really rubbish, but if I could live anywhere in the world I’d live here. I can honestly say I’m in love with my city.’
London in Autumn, that’s what he likes most. ‘I like the colours. It’s one of the most glorious things, for me at least. More than the screensaver Caribbean beach shots, I find that the most impressive.
The last time he left the city was September, to see his family in Sicily: ‘I hadn’t been since lockdown so I just thought I’d go and see some old relatives.'
He smiles quietly.
'They don’t pull your cheeks like you’d think.’
Except for this trip, the life of The Salesman seems to be a solitary one.
At seven o’clock in the morning, everyday, The Salesman gets out of bed. The first thing he does is brush his teeth. I ask him whether he gets dressed first, to avoid any embarrassment, but he shakes his head. ’I live on my own, so I just get up and I walk to the bathroom. It doesn’t matter.’
For breakfast he has an espresso. Nothing else. He claims he doesn't need to eat to start his day. Occasionally, at weekends, he’ll go to a cafe or a restaurant and order himself a full English Breakfast. Mushrooms, bacon, sausage, tomatoes, a hash brown.
This is where I have crossed paths with him: sat alone at a table.
He isolates himself when he’s angry too. He tells me that to calm down he won’t see anybody or speak to anybody for a while, just stew until he feels better.
In the morning, he doesn’t say good morning to anyone specific, and in the evening there’s no one person that he says goodnight to.
Even when I ask him for a book recommendation he answers in a way which suggests he isn’t in the habit of sharing things with others.
'I find books are very personal. I don’t like recommending books to anyone. Let’s go with The Power of Now. Eckhart Tolle.
I’m surprised to learn that the proudest moment of his life so far is his son being born. It’s a confident answer. Immediate. I’d never have guessed that he was a father.
‘He’s 14. Do the maths. How old does that make me?’
The Salesman had his son when he was 24.
Perhaps this was when he decided to work in sales. He also tells me that his son is the person in his life that he most wants to impress.
As someone who convinces people of things for a living, I sort of expect him to sell himself to me, but he seems conflicted.
I ask what his best feature is. ‘My cheekbones. No I’m joking, don’t write that down.’
He thinks about it for a short while.
‘I’m honest. Not perfectly honest, but honest.’
What’s your favourite smell? ‘Musk.’ I laugh, confused. ‘It’s a scent by Kiehls. It’s quite a manly thing. I’ve been told it’s great. On me. By one person.'
'Let's pretend it's more.'
He is much more sure of things relating to other people. He knows what he values most in friendships. Loyalty, which he understands as ‘backing you up even when you’re in the wrong.’
He knows when his first love was too. ‘When I was fourteen. I know, it probably wasn’t love but that’s how I remember it. We stayed friends actually, until late in life.’
He remembers that he last cried in December - between Christmas and New Year - but justifies this with, ‘I’m sure a lot of people cry around that period.’
And yet, when I ask The Salesman what his biggest fear is, he replies:
‘Being alone. In the world.’
Then he offers me the small pot of baked beans that came with his breakfast.
‘I don’t like baked beans.’