Every day, a little girl scavenged the leftovers of a millionaire’s extravagant lunches. Her story would soon astonish Sam Farmer, who had led a life of ease and indolence. He’d wake up late each morning, leisurely checking his social media accounts on his phone before strolling out for lunch.
Sam rarely roused himself before 11. He often excused it, blaming his circadian rhythms, but the truth was simpler—he was plain lazy. He could afford to be. His father was one of the wealthiest men in the state. It seemed unlikely that Sam would ever transform into a responsible, mature person. However, this was before he met Nina.
Mr. Farmer, a self-made man, was astounded by his son’s commitment to doing absolutely nothing. Unfortunately, he was partially responsible for molding the person Sam had become. Sam’s mother had passed away when he was young, and Mr. Farmer had tried to compensate for this loss by indulging him. The result was a capricious, lazy, and irresponsible young man who amassed staggering bills on clothes and shoes he seldom wore.
Despite having a gourmet chef at home in the mansion he shared with his father, Sam ate out every day. His regular haunt was Maison Umberto, an extravagantly priced restaurant where celebrities frequently dined. Upon entering Umberto’s, Sam would make his way to his customary table on the terrace, offering a view of the sea. Senor Umberto himself took Sam’s order.
When the feast arrived, Sam nibbled but hardly touched the delectable dishes. Just as he was about to summon the waiter to clear away the lavish leftovers, an unexpected encounter changed everything. A child’s voice interjected, “Excuse me, are you going to eat that?”
Sam turned and saw a girl of about eight, with enormous brown eyes, gazing at the uneaten food. “Eight,” he replied when she asked his age. The girl gestured toward the untouched dishes, “All that, oh no,” Sam replied, “I’ve had quite enough.”
“Can I have some?” she asked. “You can have whatever you want,” Sam replied, though he added, “But it’s probably cold, and I don’t know about you, but I despise cold food.”
The child couldn’t hide her surprise at Sam’s response. “It’s good food. Aren’t you hungry?” she inquired.
Sam suddenly felt self-conscious. “Are you hungry?” he asked.
“I’m very hungry,” the girl responded with a desperate sincerity in her voice.
“Take what you want,” Sam offered. The child moved forward and promptly began packing the food into plastic bags. When she finished, she offered Sam a grateful smile and hurried away.
This brief encounter stayed with Sam. He couldn’t stop thinking about the girl, her eyes, her thin face, and her simple question, “Are you hungry?”
It dawned on Sam that he had never been hungry, not genuinely. He had been peckish, but true hunger was an alien concept to him. The little girl, on the other hand, was all too familiar with it.
The following day, just as he was wrapping up lunch, the child reappeared beside his table. She greeted him with a polite “Hello.”
“Hi, how are you?” Sam replied.
“I’m very well, thank you,” the girl responded politely.
“Are you going to finish that?” She pointed to a generous mound of lasagna glistening with melted cheese and basil.
“No, you can have it if you like,” Sam replied.
The child beamed and quickly stowed the lasagna in a plastic bag. Sam waited until she turned away and then discreetly followed her.
The girl hopped the railing enclosing the terrace and vanished into the surrounding gardens. Sam kept his distance, not wishing to be seen, yet he never let the slender figure escape his sight.
He continued trailing the child until she reached an abandoned lot. There stood a rusty old trailer, and that’s where the girl was headed. Sam watched as she opened the door and stepped inside, clutching the bag of food.
A few minutes later, he knocked on the trailer door. The child opened it, her eyes filled with trepidation.
“What do you want? Go away!” she exclaimed.
“I won’t hurt you. I was concerned about you. Are you alone?” Sam asked gently.
“No, my brother’s here.” Another child, around five years old, peeked out from behind the door.
“Where’s your mom?” Sam asked.
“Dad, too. Everyone’s dead,” the girl said matter-of-factly.
“That doesn’t mean you have to be alone,” Sam told her. “You have me.”
“Me? Are you alone?” Nina asked.
“No, my mom died, but I was always alone,” Sam replied.
At that moment, a brilliant idea struck Sam. “Pack up your things. You’re coming with me.”
Mr. Farmer was astonished to see his son arrive with two scruffy children in tow, but when Sam explained, he leapt into action. “I know the director of child services. I’ll give him a call.”
Mr. Farmer adopted Nina and Johnny, and Sam’s life underwent a profound transformation. He no longer slept in until 11. He now rose at 6 to have breakfast with them and take them to school. Sam returned to college, feeling he had to be a positive role model for his brother and sister. He became the best big brother anyone could hope for.
The story beautifully illustrates how a chance encounter can profoundly change someone and how compassion can turn even the laziest heart into one of boundless love and responsibility.
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