Birthday Generosity for a BK Loyalist

While this may seem like advertising for Burger King, I would like to share this evidence that birthdays make people go out of their way to show they care.

Harold Rinehimer, a resident of Nanticoke, Pennsylvania, is a stalwart Burger King visitor. According to local media there, Harold has walked from his apartment to the fast food restaurant “every day, twice a day, for nearly two decades.”

“I guess I like the stuff down here, the food, the times, and I see good friends down here,” Harold said.

Birthday Kindness

Upon discovering that Harold was turning 80, employees planned a surprise party for his birthday.

Seeing the big smile on Harold’s face at the surprise was worth the effort, said restaurant manager Elizabeth Phenotti. “It made my day…It’s just doing something nice for someone, making someone feel special. He sure needs it, he’s a wonderful person.”

Along with a cake at the party, employees gave Harold a card signed by everyone and a Burger King gift card.

birthday generosity

Image source: WNEP

“Faithfully, rain sleet, snow, shine, he always makes it here. I think it’s awesome that he’s lived to be 80. Hopefully, he has a lot more years,” said Burger King employee Audam Fogle.

“That was a nice thing they did for him,” said Nick Indelicato, who met Harold at the BK and often shares a meal with him there. “He was really surprised, so that was nice.”

Harold’s advice? Life goes by too fast, so enjoy it.

Since Harold’s first meal of the day at the BK is breakfast, and he returns for dinner, he definitely started his birthday on the right note — cake for breakfast!

Tolstoy at 80: “No party for me.”

This blog’s regular likely would not expect me saying “no” to a birthday party. So, you can imagine my surprise reading about revered author Leo Tolstoy’s reluctance to be celebrated.

In 1908, as the Russian author of War and Peace and Anna Karenina (and other works) approached his 80th birthday, plans were afoot to organize several big shindigs. There was even talk of erecting a monument, drafting a bill to declare the day a national holiday, and establishing a university in his name to mark the day.

Tolstoy was far from receptive. He wrote to M.A. Stakhovich, a family friend who was spearheading the efforts, rejecting the celebrations. The letter, later published in the “Ogonyok” magazine (1908, No. 14, April 6) and also partly reproduced in many newspapers, stated: “Here is my great request to you…do whatever you can to abolish this jubilee and set me free. I will be very, very grateful to you forever.”

In his diary later that year, he is said to have written, “what must I do? I must go far away from all this, but go where? To God? To death?”

Even though the event was officially cancelled, family members still feared many would come. According to the Tolstoy homestead museum, his daughter offered to hide her father away and “take him to Pirogovo on that day,” while his wife “wanted to block the entrance and have gate wards not to let anyone in on the 28th.”

An 80th to remember

What happened on the actual day varies by the source. A video claiming to show his 1908 birthday sees him in a wagon surrounded by hordes of children. Another source speaks of a brass band and hundreds of people outside his home property until he at least came out to make some grateful remarks.

Yet, the Yasnaya Polyana museum reports there were “not so many people” at the property where Tolstoy lived: “only a few reporters and photographers” and “only family members and friends in the house.” Apparently, the recently ill didn’t even leave the house and worked as usual.

One wonders how much he could have accomplished, though, with the interruption of receiving six hundred telegrams and about one hundred letters. Within a week of the August 28 birthday, several hundred letters and two thousand telegrams signed by fifty thousand people were received.

There were gifts too:

  • a samovar (so very Russian) inscribed with signatures of many admirers
  • 21 pounds of bread
  • one hundred scythes, which were given to local peasants (all except the one he kept for himself in his study)
  • A box of chocolates from St. Petersburg, picturing views of Yasnaya Polyana, for each of the peasant children.

Despite his disinterest in celebrating, Tolstoy was grateful for the outpouring of affection. In a letter in the newspapers he said, “… I ask you to accept this statement of mine as the expression of my sincere gratitude to all the people who expressed their kind feelings to me, for the joy they gave me.”

See, even authors who would rather their big day go unnoticed are moved by the kind feelings that come with birthdays!