Alejandro and the flat (white)

Terrel, Texas – Olivia Rice was proud of herself for leaving early enough Tuesday to get coffee on her way to work as communications director of the local school district. Then, as she was about to get to Starbucks, she hit a pothole.

“I was like, ‘I'm going to treat myself to Starbucks and sit in my car in silence for five minutes before tackling my day.’ And then boom, flat tire,” Olivia said.

Barista Alejandro Montenegro, a nearly four-year Starbucks partner, saw her through the drive thru window as she pulled into the parking lot and began to struggle with the spare tire.

“I’ve been in that position before. It’s kind of a nuisance,” said Alejandro, who is studying to become a firefighter at Trinity Valley Community College while working at Starbucks. He ran out and helped her change her tire. After they got the spare on, he was using the jack to lower the car to the ground, he realized he was still wearing his drive thru headset.

“He said, ‘what would you like to order?’” Olivia wrote on Facebook later that morning. “Y'ALL, he took my order WHILE he changed my tire!”

Her order? An iced coffee and a flat white.

“You cannot make these things up,” Olivia said.

When she got to the window, the drinks were ready – and free.

“She was already having a hard morning,” Alejandro said. “The thing with doing good deeds is that it seems to have a trickle effect. If you help someone, even for a moment, it can influence how the rest of their day goes, and then when they interact with people, those conversations will be better. It’s a whole butterfly effect.”

-- by Jennifer Warnick