While at work, a Texas waiter had overheard a diner make a remark about the child sitting at the next table. Unfortunately, what he had heard being said was utterly horrible. And, as a result, the server simply couldn’t stop himself from giving the inconsiderate man a piece of his mind.
The child who had been the target of the vicious comment was five-year-old Milo Castillo, from Houston, Texas. On one day in 2013, he had gone out with his mom Kim for a meal at local restaurant Laurenzo’s. That was nothing out of the ordinary for the pair: indeed, they had become quite the regulars there.
And after they had arrived, young Milo started chatting away with some of the waiters, telling them all about the birthday that he had celebrated just the week before. Rather adorably, he was also keen to practice some new vocabulary that he’d learnt.
The special thing about Milo is that he was born with Down syndrome, a genetic condition also called trisomy 21. Typically, people with the disorder are affected by stunted growth and learning difficulties. The extent to which the condition affects both an individual’s physical and mental development, however, differs from person to person.
And the waiters at Laurenzo’s had come to know Milo so well that one even developed a unique way of welcoming him into the restaurant. Touchingly, he would pick Milo up at the front door and carry him all the way to his seat.
So when the very same waiter, Michael Garcia, overheard something unsavory being said about Milo, he couldn’t help but step in. That unpleasant comment, moreover, had come from a table near to Milo and his mom.
The people on that table were also a family, requesting that they be moved to a different part of the restaurant. And while Milo’s mom had noticed the other family moving away, she thought nothing of it at the time, as Milo wasn’t causing any trouble.
But it’s not the fact that the other family asked to move that upset the waiter the most, but what a man in the group said at the time they were doing so. Specifically, he made a comment about Milo that deeply offended Garcia.
Unbelievably, the man had said, “Special needs children need to be special somewhere else.” Having overheard that remark, Garcia snapped and did something that could have easily got him fired. But, regardless of the implications for his job, he simply couldn’t let that comment go.
According to KPRC-TV, Garcia stood up to the man and said, “I’m not going to be able to serve you, sir.” And shortly afterwards, the man and the rest of his table left the restaurant.
On their way out, moreover, Garcia asked him, “How could you say that about a beautiful five-year-old angel?” Having later found out about the exchange, Milo’s mom said she was amazed that the waiter had defended her son in such a way. “I wouldn’t have expected anyone to do that,” she told HLN News.
Luckily for Garcia, the owners of the restaurant supported him in his actions and he didn’t lose his job. What’s more, when the story went viral, the waiter was thankfully widely praised for what he did.
In fact, some people were so touched by the story that they even went into the restaurant specifically to meet Garcia and to shake his hand. “The business has just been huge,” one of Garcia’s colleagues told Today in 2013.
However, while Garcia would subsequently describe the incident as “disturbing,” Castillo would pass it off as mere ignorance. Unfortunately, she’s used to people staring at Milo and has even seen parents lead their children away from her son.
Furthermore, after the story had gone viral, it attracted some comments from parents who were in similar situations to Castillo. One man, also the father of a child with special needs, commented on Facebook praising Laurenzo’s and Garcia in particular.
And it was a stirring message. “I applaud you and your employee, Michael Garcia, for standing up to intolerance and helping to educate people who fear the most precious of all children, those with special needs and disabilities,” he wrote.
And that’s exactly what Milo’s mom hopes will come of their uncomfortable experience. In particular, she has expressed her wishes that people who hear about the story will “think twice before they utter those words or say something derogatory about somebody else.”
Referring to the reaction to the story, Milo’s mom also told Today, “It’s just impressive to see the outpouring of love and support.” She added that she’d like to see more people defending those who aren’t able to stand up for themselves.
And Garcia undoubtedly showed compassion and strength when he gave the cruel customer a piece of his mind. Although he might have risked his job, he “did it from his heart,” according to Castillo. Plus, he seemingly gained a huge amount of respect from the community as a result.
It’s hard to comprehend why somebody would say something so cruel about a sociable five-year-old boy with special needs who has a passion for giving hugs. Let’s just hope, then, that this story encourages people to take a leaf out of Garcia’s book if they ever find themselves in a similar situation.