The moment when a customer at a Houston restaurant made a snide wisecrack about a little boy with Down Syndrome, waiter Michael Garcia couldn’t contain his feelings. He refused to serve the customers and subsequently dished out a lesson in manners. Instead of handing them over the restaurant’s menu, he served them with a dose of bravery.
Mom Kim Castillo, was at Laurenzo’s Prime Rib in Houston recently when a few waiters stopped by her table. Her 5-year-old son, Milo, who has Down syndrome and whose speech is a little delayed, was showcasing his new words and talking about his birthday the previous week.
A group sitting nearby asked to move away from the Castillo family's table, and a man in the group made a disparaging remark about Milo. That's when a potentially terrible things into something pretty awesome with a quick thinking waiter on duty.
“I heard the man say, ‘Special needs children need to be special somewhere else,’” Garcia told NBC affiliate KPRC-TV in.“My personal feelings took over, and I told him, ‘I’m not going to be able to serve you, Sir.’”
“‘How could you say that?’” Garcia said he asked the man before he left the restaurant with his party. “‘How could you say that about a beautiful 5-year-old angel?’”
“I had considered whether or not I would lose my job, but I knew it wasn’t right,” Garcia said, referring to the remarks of the offensive family.
Castillo was impressed with Garcia’s response as well as actions. The restaurant showed full support of Garcia’s decision not to serve the patron who made the comments about young Milo.
Kim Castillo took to the internet to post this:
“Tonight was a first. Dinner at Laurenzo’s and a family of 4 asked to be moved from the booth next to us. I didn’t think that much about it but shortly after they left the restaurant entirely, glancing at our table as they left (thought I was being paranoid),” she writes. “As it turns out they told the waiter, ‘special needs kids should be kept in special places.’ The waiter promptly told them he was offended by their comment and refused to serve them. Yay for people like Michael, Candace and Eric at Laurenzo’s (also waiters who everyone should go tip heavily) who not only love (my son) Milo for who he is — a customer and little boy with Down syndrome, but stand up for him no matter what.”
Kim’s post quickly went viral and Michael has been receiving praise from near and far. However, the humble hero – the Castillo family only learned of his brave actions when another server clued them in – contends that this story really shouldn’t be about him.
Milo and his family have been regular customers at Laurenzo's restaurant for quite some years.
It would not have been an issue if Milo was being loud and disruptive, as 5-year-olds can sometimes be. This was a case of blatant discrimination, Castillo said.
“He is just a kid and shouldn’t be discriminated against,” Castillo told 29-95. “He certainly didn’t ask to be born with Down’s syndrome."
As for the family that moved, Kim would only say:
"it’s sad that they’re ignorant.” Kim hopes Michael’s actions will encourage, “people to stand up for other people who can’t stand up for themselves and that it’s worth taking the risk.” She adds, “Maybe next time they’ll think twice before they utter those words or say something derogatory about somebody else.”
Castillo said she has never witnessed anybody say anything derogatory about her son, a boy who hates fighting, loves to hug and has lots of preschool friends, both with and without Down syndrome. But she said she has seen kids and adults stare at him or take “second and third glances,” and has witnessed parents pull their kids away from Milo on the playground.
“It’s just ignorance,” she said. “Kids aren’t going to catch anything from him.”
The Facebook page of Laurenzo’s Prime Rib has a slew of comments praising Garcia and his decision to come to the defense of Milo and his family.
Waiter and hero Garcia appeared on nationwide television to speak about the incident and his actions as well as his decision not to serve the man. Garcia continues to make headlines all over the country.