One of my all-time favorite movie scenes comes from National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, when long-suffering food additive professional Clark Griswold opens his Christmas bonus only to find a one-year subscription to the Jelly of the Month Club in lieu of cash. If that’s not enough to radicalize you, I don’t know what is. Similarly, Burger King employee Kevin Ford recently celebrated his 27-year anniversary with the fast food chain. That’s 27 years without missing a single day of work, mind you. His managers coughed up a pretty lousy thank-you gift—but TikTok came through, raising more than $350,000 to reward Ford for his service.
Fortune reports that Ford spent the last 27 years as a cook at the Las Vegas McCarren Airport Burger King outpost. He showed up on his 27th work anniversary, at which point “management scrambled to find a present to thank him for his hard work,” per Fortune. The present was a transparent string backpack filled with one (1) movie ticket, a lanyard, a coffee cup, and some LifeSavers.
Ford accepted the gift graciously, taking to TikTok to share his gratitude and thank his coworkers publicly. The video went wicked viral, but the meager company gift left some TikTokers asking: Is that it?
“Why is this celebrated ? Great guy but give this guy 2 weeks off with pay at least,” remarked one TikTok commenter. Another pointed out that “the sad part is to see large corporations take advantage of good people like him.”
After the video’s viral success, Ford’s daughter, Sernya Ford, decided to take things a step further. She set up a GoFundMe page to raise $200 to help Ford visit his grandchildren. “In no way are we asking for money or is he expecting any money but if anyone feels like blessing him he would love to visit his grandchildren,” she wrote on the page. To her surprise, the GoFundMe took off on TikTok. As of today, the campaign has raised more than $350,000 and attracted the attention of donors including David Spade, who donated five grand.
I’m an outspoken TikTok hater, but I have to admit that the platform has its perks. While Ford doesn’t seem to have any plans to retire, that kind of money will go a long way toward boosting his quality of life and supporting his family. The campaign has restored my faith in TikTok a little bit—but at the same time, it’s a reminder that even the most loyal employees aren’t often rewarded for their service by mega-corporations. Take days off, my friends, and remember to celebrate your colleagues regularly, superhuman attendance records notwithstanding.