“Well then happy birthday, hun!”
The waitress who presided over the Sunrise Diner placed my ID (Number 124) into my hand and plopped the plate of crisp hash browns on the checkered table cloth and flashed a smile wide as an 18 wheeler’s turn radius.
“I hope it’s a special day for ya, and breakfast’s on the house!”
I smiled back innocently as if I had never before seen such kindness.
“Why thank you ma’am. You know it only comes once a year, so you may as well enjoy it while you got it!”
The waitress rolled away while I picked up my fork and smiled contentedly as I looked at the road map spread out in creased array before me. I was in Lebanon, Kansas, the day was July 3rd, I was right on schedule, and I was member of a new breed of homeless men.
When most people think of the homeless they think of the down on their luck or the lazy, sleeping under bridges and rummaging through trash cans in parks. But none of these characterizations can be applied to me. My venture amongst the homeless began as I was formulating my dissertation on economics. I had been doing extensive research on conventional American business practices and habits when I discovered the “Birthday Club” principle. A queer attribute of Americans is how highly they value the date of their births, and their assumption that others should value them as well. To appease everyone on their various days of entering into the world, many business offer free products, deals, or discounts on birthdays.
This fascinating fact kindled an idea in my mind, and I began to inquire into every birthday deal from San Francisco to New Jersey. I quickly realized as I accumulated club memberships and coupons that if my birthday was everyday, then I could live quite extravagantly. So I decided to have a birthday every day for a year, and during that time take a tour of the USA. All for the purpose of gathering information for my dissertation of course.
I made detailed plans for each stop along the way and delved into some rather, shall we say, shady dealings to acquire 366 pseudo IDs for myself, each with a different birth date, but as soon as all these arrangements were prepared I descended the steps of my California dwelling and began my adventure. I mean, my economic experiment.
Instead of growing gaunt like the old fashioned homeless often did, this was the year of my fattening. The cuisine sometimes consisted of Denny’s grand slams, coffee at Dutch Bros and Starbucks, lunch at McDonalds, Taco Bell, or Red Robin, appetizers at T. G. I. Fridays, burgers at Fuddruckers, steak dinners at The Outback and Texas Roadhouse, desserts at Applebees , and milkshakes at Arby’s. The bounty never ceased as I went from Nevada to Utah to Kansas. I acquired hotel rooms, haircuts, clothes, and enough ice cream scoops from Baskin Robins and Coldstone Creamery to satisfy any child, all for free.
I signed up for free products, and then sold them online whenever I came to a public library so I could pay for the rare expense that came my way. I had a one day cruise to the Bahamas. I had free admission into Disney World. I received one free beverage wherever I went and if my conversation was engaging enough I would get endless refills on the house.
I was living the life. Nevertheless the east coast of the country began to creep closer and ever closer and my dissertation haunted me like the ghost of another, less pleasant world. And it was there in Lebanon, Kansas that I made my decision. Not long after I vacated the Sunrise Diner, my dissertation notes were found in a garbage can in a park by a member of the old fashioned homeless. And as soon as I reached the eastern coast I placed ID Number 1 at the top of my stack and began to go westward, celebrating my birthday all along the way. You know it only comes once a year, so you may as well enjoy it while you got it!
Note 1: The birthday deals mentioned here have been offered by these various establishments in years past but may not be applicable by the date of the publishing of this story. And before you give into the urge to quit your job and live off of your birthday, please realize that this scheme took months of planning and is not a course of action to enter into recklessly.
Note 2: If you ignore the above advice, keep me posted on your adventure and have a very happy birthday!