A Missoula, Mont., TV station broke a story yesterday that could nab honors as the weirdest restaurant-related news flash of the year. If a golf club or reality-TV star had been involved, former Burger King marketing chief Russ Klein would've almost certainly snagged the media circus' center ring.
Klein recently left his post as president of BK marketing for what the chain stressed were personal reasons. It adamantly refused to disclose any details, indicating that the matter was private.
Jump to Kalispell, Mont., a city farther from BK's home city of Miami than the distance alone attests. It seems that Klein was traveling with a backpack containing a laptop and $6,000 in cash. Okay, maybe he's a big tipper.
Certainly he's careless, according to the report by station KECI. The NBC affiliate explained Sunday that Klein had placed the cash-packed knapsack in what he believed to be his rental car. But the vehicle turned out to be someone else's.
The driver of that car found the cash and turned it in, and even refused the reward Klein had offered for the backpack's return, KECI said in a follow-up report yesterday. Klein and his wife then decided to give KCEI and the local police some $8,000 for local charities, to be divvied up as they saw fit.
Trust me on this, but it's highly unusual for a news outlet to be forwarded a tidy sum of money by someone it's covering. Ditto for a police department that's been called upon to help in the situation. Put those two rarities together, and you have something of legendary uniqueness. We're talking something on a Lady Gaga scale.
"Before you're owed anything, try to give ahead of time, and it creates a certain vibe in your life," Klein was quoted as telling the station. He explained that payback was complete, but that he wanted to pay the money forward.
Call me cynical, but I don't think we've heard the last about this.