Hannah Sexton was overwhelmed.
What she’d hoped would be a quick grocery store run had turned into an odyssey as people flooded into the downtown Trader Joe’s to stock up on supplies amid the coronavirus outbreak.
As she struggled to squirt sanitizer on the hands of her daughter, Tuesday Horstmann, 2, whose day care was closed because of the coronavirus and who was yelling for peanut butter pretzels, the cashier asked her a simple question: "How are you doing?"
Sexton, 28, was honest. She was stressed. The spread of the coronavirus had caused her to cancel her April 11 wedding, and her daughter being home was making it difficult to run her business as an online health coach. Her fiance, Jonathan Horstmann, is in a band, Urban Heat, that lost gigs due to South by Southwest’s cancelation. She was also three months pregnant and nauseated all the time.
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The employee listened to her intently, then called over another employee.
"Within moments, I had these beautiful flowers in my hands. It was funny, because I had considered buying myself some flowers, but I was trying to be very utilitarian," she wrote in a post she shared with the Austin Moms’ Network Facebook group that, in two days, has amassed more than a thousand likes and dozens of comments.
"Reading things like this, or experiencing things like this, really help me counteract all the horrible things going on in the world," wrote one commenter. "Thank you for sharing."
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Trader Joe’s did not immediately respond to a request for comment but is known for its friendly, convivial employees.
Sexton, for one, says it was a gift she’ll never forget.
"This was a great reminder that even in times of stress or uncertainty, beautiful things, gratitude and kindness makes this all worth it," she said.