A rich, spoiled young man who eats at a luxury restaurant every day follows the little girl who begs for his leftovers to take home and share.
For Sam Farmer, life was easy. He woke up every morning, picked up his phone, and checked his social media accounts; then, he got up, had a shower, and went out to lunch.
Yes, lunch. Sam rarely woke up before 11:00. He told people his Circadian cycles were altered, but the truth is that Sam was plain lazy. He could afford to be. His father was one of the richest men in the state.
It seemed unlikely that Sam would ever change and become a responsible, mature person — but that was before he met Nina Vale.
Sam’s dad was a self-made man, and his son’s dedication to doing absolutely nothing shocked him. Unfortunately, Mr. Farmer was responsible for the person Sam had become, and he knew it.
Sam’s mom had died when he was very young, and Mr. Farmer had tried to compensate him for his loss by spoiling him. As a result, Sam was fickle, lazy, and irresponsible.
He ran up enormous bills buying clothes and shoes he often wore only once, and even though the mansion he shared with his father had a live-in gourmet chef, he ate out every day.
Don’t take the easy life for granted.
He always had lunch at the same place, Maison Umberto. The restaurant was wildly expensive, but it was where all the celebrities hung out, so that was where Sam ate.
Sam walked into Umberto’s and headed for his usual table out on the terrace overlooking the sea. Signor Umberto himself took his order. Sam just waved and said, “I don’t know WHAT I want! Bring me the whole menu!”
When the food arrived, Sam nibbled a bit of this, a bit of that, but the wonderful food he ordered was mostly untouched. He was about to call the waiter to clear away the leftovers when someone stopped him.
“Excuse me,” a child’s voice said. “Are you going to eat that?”
Sam turned and saw a girl about eight years old, with big brown eyes watching him. “Eat what?” asked Sam.
The girl waved a hand at the laden table. “All THAT.”
“Oh, no,” Sam said. “I’ve had quite enough.”
“Can I have some?” the girl asked.
“You can have whatever you want,” Sam said. “But it’s probably cold now. I don’t know about you, but I hate cold food!”
The child looked at Sam as if she couldn’t believe what he was saying. “It’s good food!” she pointed out. “Aren’t you hungry?”
“Oh,” Sam somehow felt embarrassed. “Are you hungry?”
“I’m very hungry,” the girl said with a tone of desperate sincerity in her voice.
“Take what you want,” Sam said, and the child stepped forward and quickly started scooping the food into plastic bags. When she finished, she threw Sam a grateful smile and scampered off.
The small incident bothered Sam. He kept thinking about the girl. Her big eyes, her thin face, and her question: “Aren’t you hungry?”
Sam knew that he had never been hungry, not once. He’s been peckish and had an appetite, but true hunger was a stranger to him. He realized that the little girl was very familiar with hunger.
The next day, he was just finishing his lunch when the child appeared soundlessly by his table. “Hello,” she said.
“Hi,” Sam replied. “How are you?”
“I’m very well, thank you,” the girl said politely. “Are you going to finish that?” She pointed at a great mound of lasagna glistening with melted cheese and basil.
“No,” he answered. “You can have it if you like.”
The child rewarded him with a huge grin and quickly shoveled the lasagna into a plastic bag. Sam waited until she turned her back and quickly followed her.
The girl jumped the railing around the terrace and escaped into the surrounding gardens. Sam hung back so she wouldn’t see him, but made sure he didn’t lose sight of the thin figure flitting through the trees.
Sam followed the child until she came to an abandoned lot. A rusty old trailer was up on bricks, which was where the little girl was headed.
He watched as she opened the door and walked in, still clutching the bag with the food. A few minutes later, he knocked on the trailer’s door. There was a long silence, and then the door opened.
The girl looked up at Sam with frightened eyes. “What do you want?” she asked. “Go away!”
“I won’t hurt you,” Sam said gently. “I was worried about you. Are you alone?”
“No,” the girl said. “My brother is here.” Another big-eyed child peered around the door. The second kid looked around five years old!
“Where’s your mom?” Sam asked.
“Dead,” the girl said abruptly. “My dad too. Everyone is dead.”
“Not me!” cried the little boy. “You have me, Nina!”
“Nina?” Sam asked. “Is that your name? Why are you two here on your own?”
Nina shrugged and said, “Johnny and me got put in foster care, but the people who took us were nasty. They only wanted the money, so I took Johnny and ran away. We do OK; we don’t need grownups hitting us and screaming!”
“But you go hungry,” Sam pointed out gently. “And not all grownups are like that; my dad isn’t like that.”
Nina looked bitter beyond her years. “Then you’re very lucky,” she said. “I hope you know how lucky you are!”
“Do you have any brothers?” asked Johnny.
“Nope,” Sam said. “I always wanted one, but my mom died…” It was then that a brilliant idea exploded in Sam’s brain. “Pack up your stuff. You’re coming with me!”
Mr. Farmer was shocked to see his son arrive with two scrawny, dirty children in tow, but once Sam explained, he leapt into action. “I know the director of Child Services,” he said. “I’ll give him a call!”
Mr. Farmer adopted Nina and Johnny, and Sam’s life was turned upside-down. He no longer woke up at 11:00; he got up at 6:00 to be there with them for breakfast and to take them to school.
Sam returned to college because he felt he had to be a good role model for his brother and sister and became the best big brother anyone had ever had.
What can we learn from this story?
Don’t take the easy life for granted. Sam was lazy and complacent until he saw the children starving and begging for leftovers.
We can all make a difference by caring. Sam changed Nina and Johnny’s life because he cared. It’s easy to look away, and harder to make a difference.
Share this story with your friends. It might brighten their day and inspire them.