It was supposed to be a special day, a momentous occasion. But when he received the gift he had been waiting for, his smile faded.
The camera filmed as he went through the items one at a time, pulling them out of the clear plastic bag they were in and holding them up. It must've been some kind of sick joke. It just couldn't be anything else. Soon netizens would see the video, and they would lose it.
54-year-old Kevin Ford was born and raised in Sheffield, Alabama. When he moved to Las Vegas to find work at the age of 24, he met the woman of his dreams and settled down to start a family.
While he didn’t earn a lot of money flipping burgers at the Burger King in the Las Vegas McCarran International Airport, his wife didn’t care. All they needed was love. Or so Kevin thought.
When Kevin’s marriage started crumbling just a few years later, it was like the wool had suddenly been lifted from his eyes. But now, he had two daughters to look after.
Kevin continued to work at Burger King throughout the years so he could support his two girls. He showed up for work every day - even when he was ill or had been fighting with his wife all night and could barely keep his eyes open. He had no idea how he’d be repaid after 27 years of this.
Trouble At Home
Even throughout years of marriage problems, Kevin remained steadfast. He was a rock. He put food on the table and put his daughters through school while his relationship with his wife deteriorated.
He didn’t know who she was anymore, but she wasn’t the woman he’d married. She had changed. After brewing for a few years, things came to a head.
An Ugly Custody Battle
It became obvious that Kevin’s wife was not fit to raise his children while he worked long hours to provide for them. Things couldn’t go on as they had been. He divorced his wife and entered an ugly custody battle to keep his girls.
Although his personal life was in turmoil and filled with court hearings, Kevin still didn’t miss a day of work. Little did he know, Burger King still expected more.
After the long custody battle, the judge could see that Kevin’s ex-wife couldn’t care for her kids. He acknowledged the extramarital affairs and substance abuse. Although it’s unusual for a dad to win custody instead of the children’s mother, Kevin won the right to keep his daughters.
Now, he was a single dad with two children to take care of on his own. His children were his world, and he’d do anything for them. Although he struggled, he managed somehow. He put his head down and prevailed.
27 Years Of Service
Kevin made it to work on time every day to start his long shifts. He only got to spend time with his daughters in the evenings, but those were the moments he lived for.
Through thick and thin, through illness, a messy divorce, and dozens of mentally exhausting court battles, he dragged himself to work to flip burgers for Burger King. He’d done it for 27 years. Surely, his hard work would pay off eventually.
Not The Same Man
27 years later, 54-year-old Kevin had been through a lot. He wasn’t the same fresh young man who started his job at Burger King all those years ago. He was tired.
Thankfully, all his daughters had passed high school - his youngest was married and gave him two beautiful grandkids. He was happily remarried and now had two more children. A lot had changed, but one thing remained the same.
Rising Costs Of Living
In 1995, Kevin would have started on a minimum hourly wage of around $5,00 an hour. Now, in 2022, the average salary for a Burger King employee is about $9,86.
If you take the rising costs of living into account, Kevin’s monthly salary barely touches sides, and he hadn’t moved far up the ranks during his 27 years as a loyal employee. How would Burger King repay him?
Kevin was presented with a clear plastic bag on the 27th anniversary of becoming a Burger King employee.
It wasn’t looking promising, but Kevin always made an effort to be grateful for what he’d been given. A fellow Burger King employee filmed his reaction on his phone as he pulled the items out of the bag one by one. What did he get?
What Was In The Bag?
Kevin’s smile faded from his face, betraying his real feelings as he tried to be grateful. He pulled the items out of the clear plastic bag and held them up for the camera to see.
A reusable Starbucks cup, a bag of Reece's Pieces, a single movie ticket, and two rolls of Lifesavers. When the video went viral, the internet lost it.
The plastic bag containing the insulting gifts had an HMS Host sticker. HMS Host is the multimillion-dollar restaurant chain’s parent company.
It wasn’t long before the video of Kevin’s underwhelming gifts made its way to a subreddit called ‘A Boring Dystopia,’ with the caption, “This man dedicated 27 years of service to Burger-King and wasn’t even rewarded with $27 worth of trinkets in his ‘Goodie Bag.’” Netizens couldn’t stop talking about it.
Shame On Burger King
‘A pension would have been a lot better than a bag of Reese’s pieces,’ one Redditor commented. ‘Nobody bought anything. Those are the giveaway bags offered at special events or by hiring managers. Corporate buys that stuff by the case to give away,’ another user wrote, aghast.
‘Burger King, like all other fast food places, are corporate thieves that will stop at nothing to profit from everyone, not to mention take advantage of young workers, which is why I don't ever eat at any of these places,’ one user sniped.
The video also went viral on TikTok, where Burger King received scathing criticism from viewers. Viewers were even more heartbroken by Kevin’s reaction to the gift bag - he was positive and genuinely expressed gratitude.
Eventually, the video made its way to Kevin’s daughter, Seryna. She was heartbroken when she saw her hardworking father accepting the insulting gift after dedicating more than half his life to the company. She had to do something.
Seryna decided to set up a GoFundMe page for her father. He had worked so hard for many years to ensure she and her sisters had gotten through high school and college.
Now, she wanted to repay him. ‘My name is Seryna. The man in that video is my father. He has worked at his job for 27 years, and yes, he has never missed a day of work,’ she wrote on the GoFundMe page.
‘He originally began working at this job as a single father when he gained custody of my older sister and me 27 years ago,’ Seryna continued.
‘Then, as our family grew and he remarried, he continued to work here because of the amazing health insurance that was provided through this employer because it was unionized. Which got all four of his daughters through high school and college with full healthcare coverage.’
‘My dad continues to work here because though he does look young, he is coming up on retirement age, and leaving would cost him his retirement,’ Seryna explained.
‘In no way are we asking for money, nor is he expecting any money, but if anyone feels like blessing him, he would love to visit his grandchildren.’ She wasn’t expecting much – the goal was $200, so Kevin could buy a plane ticket to see his grandkids. Meanwhile, the controversial video continued to rack up millions of views.
Taken Advantage Of
‘Why is this celebrated? Great guy, but give this guy two weeks off with pay at least,’ wrote one disgusted TikToker. Another pointed out that ‘the sad part is to see large corporations take advantage of good people like him.’
While most users were horrified by Kevin’s ‘goodie bag,’ some blamed Kevin for his own situation – even going as far as to blame him for not leaving Burger King sooner and looking for another job.
‘Why would someone work at BK for 27 years? I understand that some people are in poverty, BUT 27 YEARS??? That’s more than enough time to look for something better,’ one user wrote.
‘Idk, I just couldn’t imagine putting myself so low that I’d allow myself to work for such a degrading job. They shouldn’t have given him anything, and this is insulting.’ Once one person had leveled judgment, other users began to dogpile too.
The Blame Game
‘Why TF would anyone stay at BK for 27 years? That's the problem right there. You cannot do what this guy did and expect to succeed. You spend 27 years slinging low-quality reheated burgers; this is exactly what happens,’ another user commented.
‘It's not rocket science. The corporations don't care about you and have no loyalty to you; treat them likewise. A job like this should just be a rung on a ladder, not a career.’ But, of course, it wasn’t that simple for Kevin.
Slave To The Wage
Kevin had stayed in his position with Burger King because it was unionized. He benefitted from great health insurance that extended to his children while they went to school as well.
Of course, he had weighed up the pros and cons of working at Burger King, but in the end, he chose good healthcare coverage instead of a higher-paying salary. Burger King also had him under their thumb for his retirement – which he would lose if he left. And he’s not the only American in this predicament.
A Broken System
A recent survey by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants revealed that 80% of the American workforce would prefer a job with healthcare benefits to a job offering a 30% higher salary.
The rising healthcare costs have also meant that those in a lower or middle-income bracket haven’t seen a salary increase since the early 2000s. That’s because the rising cost of healthcare keeps eating into the raises they get. Kevin certainly wasn’t to blame for being part of a broken system. But he had no idea things were about to change.
Kevin’s video of his underwhelming gift was still getting traction – and so was Seryna’s GoFundMe page. Kevin’s story was even getting recognition from celebrities, and it wasn’t long before the goal of $200 was shattered.
Comedian David Spade was among those who saw the TikTok video, and he donated $5,000 and sent Kevin a personal message via Instagram. Kevin, who is a huge fan of David’s, couldn’t believe what he was seeing. But this was just the beginning.
Forced Into A Corner
Burger King had noticed the bad press they were getting and rushed to do some damage control. Knowing that a video like Kevin’s could really hurt their brand, they issued a formal statement to LADbible on the matter.
“The Burger King brand and its many franchisees nationwide are committed to recognizing and celebrating the achievements of the thousands of people serving across a wide range of roles — all dedicated to providing our guests a world-class experience,” the statement said. But they were only making themselves look even worse.
Looking Even Worse
“Following review with this location’s franchisee, we’ve learned that this video depicts a Team Member in receipt of a peer-to-peer reward in recognition of a short-term positive performance/experience,” Burger King’s statement continued.
“The franchisee offers its team members a robust employee recognition program, which includes the recognition of tenure milestones and monetary awards.” So, the paltry ‘goodie bag’ Kevin had gotten for 27 years of service wasn’t even from Burger King’s higher management – it was from a team member.
Outpouring Of Support
Nevertheless, the damage to Burger King’s brand had been done. Kevin’s story elicited sympathy from people all over the globe – everybody could relate to how he had given more than half of his life to a big corporation just to get a slap in the face.
Meanwhile, donations from kind strangers were pouring into the GoFund Me account. It wasn’t long before it had amassed a whopping $250,000 in just two days… and it’s still climbing!
Kevin had become an online sensation almost overnight. He was getting calls to do interviews with the media and even asked to appear on TODAY.
“I’ve been crying for about two days now. It’s just incredible,” he said in an interview. “I just go to work and try to have fun and laugh and make other people’s day good. It’s like I’ve been in a dream for almost two days now. It’s just so beautiful and awesome. It really is.” Little did he know, the biggest surprise was still coming.
Finally, Some Appreciation
Kevin got more than 8,000 donations from kind strangers. Finally, he was getting the recognition he deserved – but it was ironic that he wasn’t getting it from Burger King.
“For all those years, you feel unappreciated, but you get up just like everybody else. You do your job, and for somebody to show this appreciation is just overwhelming,” he said on the TODAY show.
When Kevin was asked what he would do with all that money, he said his top priorities were visiting his daughter Seryna and her kids and paying off some of his bills.
Kevin hadn’t seen his granddaughters, six and eight, for four years. But the producers of the TODAY show had already taken care of that for him…
While he was doing his TODAY interview, Kevin was greeted by his daughter and granddaughters, who made a surprise appearance. Kevin Immediately burst into tears: "I haven't seen you guys in so long," he choked as he hugged his family.
After Kevin’s story went viral, many people working in the fast food industry came forward with their own harrowing stories. While some seemed fake, others, like the one below, left a bad taste in people’s mouths, showing just how much disregard these big corporations have for their employees.
Working For A Big Corporation
Dana had been working at a big corporation fast food chain for ten years before she decided to call it quits. Receiving an hourly pay of ten dollars, she’d only wished to have a stable way to pay her bills and take care of her kid.
A Missouri native, Dana had been through a lot in her life. But the experiences she endured through the ten years she worked at the fast food restaurant showed her what her employer truly cared about.
Raising A Son
Dana came from a low-income family in Missouri. She had her son when she was eighteen, and although she loved him very much, having him meant she had to find a way to support him.
Her baby’s dad wasn’t in the picture, so Dana had to find a job to raise her son alone. As any mom would, she started looking for work to help her make ends meet.
Fresh out of high school, there were a few things Dana could do to have a steady paycheck. The most notable was flipping burgers and making hotdogs at the restaurant, which, at first, was a delightful job.
Dana had hoped to work there for two or so years before moving on. She had expected to join her friends in college and give her son the life he truly deserved. But the world had other plans for her.
Dana’s hope to leave the restaurant came crashing when she realized the world was a crueler place than she’d once thought. She couldn’t find any other job with her age and lack of higher education.
She thought about taking loans to go to school, but that would still require her to work to support her son. She was stuck at the fast food restaurant.
Ten years passed, with Dana still working at the restaurant. But after several life-dangering situations, and without any substantial promotion or pay increase, she decided enough was enough and hung up her apron.
After Kevin’s story took the world by storm, she came forward with her story, explaining how much flipping burgers endangered her life almost every year.
In the post, she wrote, “I resigned from my position at a fast food restaurant after I realized my employers have no regard for human life.”
She gave the premise for her story, stating that although a lot of violence was involved around the restaurant’s location, her employer never did anything to help. Here’s the story.
Dana, like many minimum wage workers, woke up early in the morning and got ready for work. After dropping her boy off at school, she took the bus to her workplace to begin her day.
The day was going on great until a customer came in to order food. He was tall and well dressed, with a flashy car parked at the lot. “One look at him, and I knew he was trouble,” Dana wrote.
A Scary Moment
The man had several tattoos on his arms and fingers, each of those markings harkening to gangs Dana always saw on tv. The man seemed impatient as he made his order.
He waited a few minutes for his food and handed over his card before grabbing his bag. Looking to be done with the situation, Dana quickly passed the card through the machine. All hell was about to break loose.
The card declined, mainly because the machine didn’t cater to the particular card brand the man was using. Dana tried to explain this to him, but he ground his teeth and slapped his fist against the counter, asking her to try again.
A shaky Dana did, and when the card declined again explained that the machine didn’t support the brand of card the man was using.
Get The Manager
“I told him to wait for a second as I fetched my manager,” Dana wrote in her post. The manager came rushing in, but he stopped in his tracks when he saw how imposing the man looked.
He explained what Dana had already told the man about the machine, hoping to defuse the situation finally. He had no clue what was about to happen next.
The man grunted and snatched his card from Dana’s manager’s fingers. He hissed about the two insinuating that he’d stolen the card, and slapped his order off the counter, spilling it onto the floor.
With a grunt, he stomped out of the building and into his car. Dana let out a breath, turning to serve the rest of the customers waiting in line. She thought it was over.
Dana was taking her next order when the rest of the restaurant went up in screams. Next, she heard glass from the windows shatter as a loud and continuous screech took the air.
“Get down!” one of the customers shouted. Everyone was sprinting for their lives, hands over their heads as they ducked under tables and booths.
Don’t Close It
The man’s car did a donut in the parking lot before driving off. Dana couldn’t believe it. In the post, she says her manager got a call from the higher-ups instructing him not to close the restaurant for the rest of the day.
“Although no one was hit, my employer didn’t care about the mental scarring that comes with such an ordeal,” wrote Dana. What she revealed next was genuinely heartbreaking.
Stay At Work
“My coworkers and I were required to work on take-out orders for the rest of our shifts,” Dana wrote. She explained that most of them were beyond scared, and one of her workmates couldn’t even talk for the rest of the week.
Regardless, her employer demanded she finishes her shift as required in her contract without a care in the world about her wellbeing. “And that’s not the only time something like that has happened,” shared Dana.
“I have been through similar scenarios working at that place, some worse, some less frightening,” she wrote. “At this point, the sound of gunfire is no longer scary.”
After ten years of the same, Dana finally quit. She currently runs her own food truck in a safer neighborhood, where she has two employees working with her. “I am happy, finally. I treat them as my children. I would never let anything happen to them,” she wrote.
In order to protect the privacy of those depicted, some names, locations, and identifying characteristics have been changed and are products of the author's imagination. Any resemblances to actual events or places or persons, living or dead, are entirely coincidental.