Meet the Cheery Cashier Who Serves Coffee with Love on Capitol Hill


They come down stressed and harried and try to order a jolt of caffeine without raising their eyes from their smartphones. “Can I get a medium soy latte … ?”

But Veronica Sanders doesn’t stand for that.

This is the Longworth House Office Building, home to a couple hundred U.S. representatives and their staffs. But it’s also Veronica’s house. And in Veronica’s house, the requisite greeting is a slow, deliberate, “Goooood morning!”

Or, for those whom she knows by sight — which is almost everyone at this point — “Hey, baby! How you doin’ today?”

She works in the basement, behind the counter of a Dunkin’ Donuts, ringing up hundreds of orders a day. “I know when they’re having a bad day,” she says of her customers. “But I put a smile on their face.”

Veronica’s job is to serve coffee to overworked, Twitter-scrolling Hill staffers. And her work — her real work — is to make them feel loved.

Because she knows the agony of feeling that you aren’t.

Veronica grew up the seventh child of a single mom who moved from place to place around Washington. By the time she came along, her mom “was working all the time,” she says. “And she didn’t really take care of me.”

Most of her older siblings were already out of the house, but she had one sister close in age whom, it seemed to Veronica, her mother strongly preferred.

One of her most vivid memories is from grade school. She wasn’t feeling well and didn’t want to go to school. Her mother told her that she had to go, even though she allowed her sister, who felt fine, to stay home.

So Veronica walked around the corner, hid under a bush and swallowed a handful of aspirin. Looking back, she realizes that she wanted her mother to see her pain. “I was like, ‘She don’t love me,’ ” she recalls. She threw up all over herself, but when she told her mom, “She was like, ‘You still need to go to school.’ ”

So Veronica went to class covered in vomit. And her face burned with shame when the boy sitting in front of her said that somebody smelled bad. “That hurt me,” she says, “in my heart.”

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Source: The Washington Post | Ellen McCarthy