unfinished meal

Restaurant Owner Discovers Cleaner Secretly Collects Leftovers from Tables to Feed Her Kids — a Short Story

Heroes come in all shapes and sizes, just like the one in our story today, inspired by the readers of AmoMama. Most of the time, they are the people we least expect that come to our aid. And those are the best kinds of people. They have not lived with the expectation to help others. So, when they receive nothing in exchange for their good deeds, it makes it all the more heroic.

Carlos De Leon was the owner of a Bistro in downtown Manhattan. He had worked many years as a chef, slaving away to the long hours until he finally had the resources to create his own restaurant. He loved having his own space. And of course, being able to make decisions. Even so, he never forgot where he had started from. Carlos had so much respect for anyone who showed determination and gumption, no matter their situation or circumstance. After all that hard work, he was shocked to find that one of his kitchen staff was stealing food from the restaurant.   

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Camila’s Plight

Camila Garcia was a mother of four children. She and her husband, Luis, had moved to the states from Venezuela so they could provide a better life for their children. They managed to get here safely, even though the journey was rough and much more dangerous than they had imagined. They were undocumented immigrants, you see. The states do not look too kindly on people immigrants. Let alone one who was without a green card, or a VISA. She took a job working at a restaurant, but her husband did not have as much luck. He scoured the streets for any work to take on, but no one would hire him. Even after they eventually got their documents that allowed him to live and work in the States.

The money that Camila earned was barely enough to pay for their rent. Sadly, what was left had to pay for their electricity and any other bills that came forward. This meant that she was without any money to buy her children food to eat. She wasn’t even lucky enough to get a meal during her shift. They had to buy one at a discounted price. Alas, even the discount did not make the meal worthy for Camilla and she usually went throughout the day hungry. Camila did not mind, because she could not eat it without feeling guilty for her hungry kids at school.

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Camila was a hard worker, always had been. She was determined to keep her children from starving so she stuck her head down to wash dishes as that was her job. She was a pleasant woman who enjoyed singing, and her humming could be heard all through the kitchen, and everyone enjoyed listening to her as they cleaned up.

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The Restaurant Owner Found Out Camilla’s Secret

Carlos had a dinner date with friends, and he decided to grab a special bottle of wine to bring with him as he was not fond of showing up empty-handed. He whistled as he walked through to the back of the restaurant from his office. He had the key to the wine cellar, which collection he was very proud of. As he got closer to the kitchen, he heard a woman humming the same song he had been whistling. Curious, he went to the door of the kitchen and peered inside. He saw a woman by the dishwasher busy scraping food scraps left by customers into a plastic bag that was tucked into her apron. Now Carlos was confused, he remained silent and kept watching the woman, hoping to find out her reasons.

Suddenly, the restaurant manager, Paul, shouted from somewhere that Carlos could not see. The woman flinched, clearly afraid. Paul yelled at her for taking too long. He wanted to go home, so she must hurry up with the dishes. Paul was standing watching her, so even he knew that she was taking food home and he had not informed his boss. Carlos was bewildered, but that quickly turned into anger. He could not believe that such things were happening in his restaurant. It was then that he decided to follow her home so he could get to the bottom of the story.

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Following Camila Home

Carlos was determined to find out why she was taking the food. He had specifically instructed Paul to take the scraps to the homeless people who lived under a bridge nearby, even paying him a little bonus each month for the extra effort. Carlos waited for Camilla to come out after her shift, and sure enough, the bag of food was in her hand. He waited in the shadows, feeling pretty creepy, and walked behind her, keeping a distance. 

They walked for quite some distance, and Carlos wondered why she didn’t just take the bus. Eventually, they reached a run-down old building. Camilla stopped outside and rearranged her bags so she could open the door. Carlos looked up at the building, thinking to himself “she surely did not live there?” He noticed a window with a dim light shining, and from the street, he could see a busy family inside. He counted four children. By now, Camilla had gone inside and she appeared at the window with her bag of scrap food. What he saw next put him over the edge of disbelief. He walked up to the door to read a sign glued to it. It said that the building had been condemned. He watched the family for a while.

Read: Poor Boy Pays for Old Lady’s Groceries, His Granny Gets $230k to Pay for Treatment Days Later – a Short Story

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Carlos Took Action

Carlos went home that night feeling perplexed. He was shocked that someone was taking food home from his restaurant and he knew nothing about it. He decided he was going to do something about the situation. The next day, Carlos called his manager into the office. He asked Paul why Camilla was taking scraps home. Paul tried to act as if he had no idea that Camilla was doing such things, but Carlos cut him short saying explaining that he had seen Paul last night berating the cleaners to hurry up. Paul stuttered and tried to cover his tracks by saying that Camilla was an immigrant and those kinds of people are full of tricks. 

Carlos eyed Paul down scrupulously. This was clearly a man who lacked a moral code. Paul was still trying to find excuses until Carlos held up a hand, and he fell silent. Carlos breathed out a heavy sigh, he had expected more from someone who had worked under him for so many years. He opened his mouth to speak, but decided on a better route. He walked over to the door and shouted to Camilla to join them in the office. They were joined by a very wide-eyed Camilla. 

Carlos confronted Camilla about the food she was taking home without saying anything to him. She looked utterly shamed and begged him not to fire her. She told him how they only just managed to get the documents to be able to live and work here in the US, but even still, her husband could not find any work. They were living on her salary alone and it was not enough to pay the bills and buy food for all of her children. She only took the scraps because they were being tossed!

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The Truth Always Comes Out

Carlos turned to Paul and asked him why he was tossing out the leftovers when he had been instructed, and paid, to give them out to the homeless, but instead, he was getting Camilla to toss them in the bins. Paul hung his head in shame for he had been caught out. Carlos asked Camilla what she was being paid, and sure enough, it was a fraction of what he had budgeted for the job, so Paul was pocketing the rest while her family lived on scraps. 

He also told Paul that his own father had been an immigrant, and had fought tooth and nail to be able to stay and work here legally to give Carlos a better life. After that, Paul was fired from his job, and Camilla got a contracted position along with a raise. Good things come to those who are grateful and compassionate. 

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This story was inspired by an original piece of fiction that first appeared on AmoMama. Any similarities between this story and actual people is purely coincidental

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Keep Reading: Son Who Didn’t Visit His Mother for Years Comes and Sees Her House Destroyed – a Short Story

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Jade Small
Freelance Writer
Jade is a freelance writer and content creator from South Africa with over 7 years experience writing and creating. She's also a proud single mom to a super 13 year old boy.
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