In late August, Erin Alexander, 57, sat in the parking lot of a Target store in Fairfield, California, and wept. Her sister-in-law had recently died, and Alexander was having a hard day.
A barista working at the Starbucks inside the Target was too. The espresso machine had broken down and she was clearly stressed. Alexander — who had stopped crying and gone inside for some caffeine — smiled, ordered an iced green tea, and told her to hang in there. After picking up her order, she noticed a message on the cup: “Erin,” the barista had scrawled next to a heart, “your soul is golden.”