That night, after Mel had gone to bed, Jean and Brian picked up on their earlier discussion. Jean planned to have a word with Jack anyway – perhaps for him to follow Mel to the bus stop from work without her knowing and seeing if he noticed anything of concern.
She also suggested that, given their personal savings, they could afford to do a bit more than give Mel advice. She’d obviously been worried and had probably understated her fears.
‘Isn’t Mel’s safety something we should prioritise?’ she asked, ‘We’re not short of money are we?’
And so a rescue plan was launched to discuss with Mel the following day.
Late May – Family business in a family business
Towards the end of May, one morning, Mel was updating the stock records after a customer had left the shop having bought a new backpack. She heard the doormat alarm and looked up to see her dad entering the shop. She raised her eyebrows in surprise. He hadn’t said that he’d be coming. She wondered what he wanted but greeted him with delight.
‘Hiya, Dad,’ she said in greeting, ‘What brings you here?’
She saw Jamie looking at them.
‘I’ve come to buy a lens off you, if you have something suitable,’ he said.
By this time, Jamie had come across to join them.
‘Hello, Mr Harrington, lovely to see you. Did you want to see my dad?’
‘Jamie, you know me well enough by now, surely, to call me Brian,’ he said, ‘and, yes, it would be nice to see Tony again, but I wanted to see my daughter here and to see how she goes about selling me something.’
‘Your daughter?’ Jamie asked, looking at Mel, ‘Good grief. Harrington! You’re both Harringtons. I remember now when Mel first started here, Dad and I wondered if you were related. That’s amazing. Wait till I tell dad. I’ll phone upstairs now.’
He almost ran to the counter.
While Jamie was on the phone, Mel asked him what type of lens he was interested in. He told her that he’d managed to drop one of his tilt-shift lenses during a visit to a building site and needed to replace it. Mel knew that these type of lenses are invaluable to architects and estate agents for adjusting the composition, framing and field of view when photographing tall buildings. With them, the user doesn’t need to tilt the camera upwards – which would cause skewed vertical lines.
Mel asked her dad which lens he’d dropped and whether he wanted an exact replacement. He told her that he’d dropped his 17 mm lens, and was thinking of replacing it, using an expected insurance claim pay-out. Mel suggested that the latest versions of that brand and focal length had been improved and provided the ability to use both tilt and shift functions in either axis for both landscape and portrait orientation.
Mel knew that they didn’t have that particular lens in stock, so she led him across to the counter where she could check availability and delivery with their supplier. She was just telling her dad that it would be early the following week when Tony arrived.
They shook hands like old friends – Brian had bought a lot of expensive equipment over the years, and there was clearly genuine pleasure in their relationship.
Brian explained the reason for his visit and explained that Mel had just been ordering a new lens for use in his firm.
‘Jamie tells me that you’re Mel’s dad,’ he said. ‘Well that’s wonderful, but I don’t understand. I remember Mel telling me when we interviewed her that she’d been unemployed for years trying to find a job where she could use her photography degree. Why didn’t you mention her to me?’
‘Come on, Tony,’ he said, ‘You know that kind of thing is awkward. Mel might have thought that she hadn’t got the job on her own merits.’
‘Listen, Brian. If any favour were involved it’s the shop that’s benefited. Mel’s a natural. Customers now come in just to be served by her. She’s great at explaining things.’
‘That’s as maybe, Tony, but you wouldn’t have known that just from my say-so. In any case, she’s learned valuable life lessons by being unemployed and having me nag her. The other thing is that I’d have felt that I owed you a favour in return. I’m glad that you took her on and that you value her work but I’m more glad that it was her looking for a job herself that got her one. Now, we’re still good friends and, this way we can be better friends.’
‘So what has our star salesperson sold you?’ Tony asked.
Brian explained why he’d needed a replacement lens and what Mel had recommended. Tony said that agreed completely with Mel’s suggestion and the two men wandered off talking about equipment.
Jamie looked on, bemused.
‘Your dad’s great,’ he said.
‘That’s probably why I’m so wonderful, ‘ she said, laughing.
A change of scene today. I return with this photo to the Widnes to Runcorn Silver Jubilee bridge across the River Mersey. I took this shot yesterday (140521) from The Decks, Runcorn, Halton, Merseyside.
I used my Pentax KP 24 MM cropped sensor camera with a Pentax 16-85 mm f/3.5 to 5.6 lens. The EXIF data were shutter speed was 15 seconds at f/10 and 26 mm. The shot was tripod mounted and I used a NISI 10 stop neutral density filter. I post-processed the shot in Lightroom.