Secret Agent: A Day in the Life of an Estate Agent

'No one 'decides' to become an estate agent: we end up in the job by default'
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There's a distinctly back-to-school air about the office. I can't work out whether this is because my manager is forcing us to work harder, having squandered his money on a lads' holiday to Bangkok indulging in activities I'd rather not dwell on; or whether this new-term feel is because, like an indigestible meal, Gavin, the work experience boy, has reappeared.

"What's he doing back here?" Justin announced, echoing my own thoughts.

"Gavin has decided he'd like to become an estate agent," my manager replied. This was an instant giveaway. No one "decides" to become an estate agent: we end up in the job by default. In Gavin's case, this was borne out by the fact that while the rest of the country celebrated another bumper crop of A-level passes, he had come away with three fails.

"College is a waste of time, anyway," my manager said in his defence. "Who wants to be teached stuff when you can be making a fast buck, eh, Gav?"

Gavin grinned excitedly, but is yet to learn that estate agency is rarely the route to a fast buck. Like those who think they've ingeniously escaped sitting in motorway traffic by whizzing down the empty inside lane, Gavin will soon discover it's empty for a reason.

"He's here to help," my manager continued, which, in light of Gavin's previous cock-ups, seemed a little optimistic. "Make use of him."

Fortunately, I was spared the pain of thinking up something foolproof for him to do by the arrival of Jean.

Jean is a gangly 6ft woman who looks and sounds like a man and comes into the office every week to ask us whether we've sold her house. The answer is always no – it's £200,000 over-priced – but because it's also on the market with four other agents, the commission we'd stand to gain if we ever did sell it makes it worth keeping her sweet.

"Your sale board's fallen on my jasmine," she bellowed, to no one in particular. I smiled weakly, then looked away, hoping Justin or Kelly would deal with it. They were also smiling weakly and looking away.

"I can sort that for you, Sir." We all watched in horror, as Gavin, blissfully unaware of his gaffe, grabbed his shiny Primark jacket and headed for the door. Jean, bright red, followed after him.

Some hours later, the phone rang. "I'm a friend of Jean's," a woman began, as I braced myself for the barrage. "And I'd like to put my property on the market with you." I listened in disbelief; Gavin hadn't just resurrected the board, but lugged several sacks of compost into Jean's garden. She was now spreading the good word about our agency.

"More brawn than brain," Justin said, dismissively, when I shared the news. My manager shrugged. "Maybe, but it's getting him further than any poxy A-level." So far, I had to agree.