After a few more pleasantries the gentleman asked me what I was shopping for and if he could assist me in any way. I was after a paving slab of some sort to use as a hearthstone for the fire I've recently picked up 2nd hand on ebay so initially I demurred as moving paving stones are heavy things and he wasn't the youngest of men. He insisted though and I was ever so grateful when we got outside to the building yard and found it barren of employees.
Chatting about what I wanted the stone for and what he was purchasing in B&Q as we looked at stones I felt I should make a choice quickly and let him get on with his day. He had time to spare though and insisted on carefully showing me each paving stone so that I could make my choice, and when I chose the particular type of stone he meticulously sorted through them all to make sure I had one that was both beautiful and with the least faults.
Finally I made a choice I was happy with and the gentleman asked how I was going to get it to the check out. He found a flatbed trolley nearby and insisted on lifting the stone for me and helping me to the checkout with it. We chatted companionably as we headed back into the store, and passing the cafe I offered to buy him a coffee to thank him for all his help. He refused, insisting that he was both too old and too old fashioned to ever let a young lady buy him a drink but I could tell by the twinkle in his eye that he was pleased to have been asked.
Once at the checkout, despite all the time we spent selecting the most appropriate piece of slate the sales assistant noticed a chip and took 20% off the price, unfortunately the offer didn't extend to the gentleman's purchases...though I did ask!
Concerned about leaving me with the heavy stone the man continued to help and insisted on lifting it safely into my car for me, and extracting a promise that I wouldn't even consider trying to lift it out at the other end myself. He took time to position it safely on the back seat, the boot being full of wheelchair, and after my telling him just how much I appreciated his help he took his purchases to his car.
I didn't get his name, but he made my day. I think he was lonely so I hope I made his too. Oh, and I've kept my promise, so, for now the slate is still in the back of my car.