A Venice, Florida Cracker Barrel restaurant has fired a 73 year old Vietnam veteran for giving away a few condiment packets and a corn muffin to a man that the ex-employee claimed was needy.

Joe Koblenzer, who had been employed as a greeter at Cracker Barrel for more than 3 years, admitted he knew it was against the rules but said he thought it was the right thing to do considering the circumstances.

According to Koblenzer he was at work two weeks ago when a man who “looked like he might be homeless,” came through the doors asking for mayonnaise and tartar sauce for a fish he was going to cook. Koblenzer obliged the request and as he returned with the condiments – “I put a corn muffin in.”

The general manager called me in and said he had some bad news for me. Joe we are going to have to let you go, Koblenzer said.

Following a barrage of negative feedback regarding the incident Cracker Barrel released the following statement:

During the time he[Koblenzer] was employed, he violated the company’s policies regarding consuming food without paying or giving away free food, on five separate occasions. Mr. Koblenzer received multiple counselings and written warnings reminding him about the company’s policies and the consequences associated with violating them. Cracker Barrel is grateful for and honors Mr. Koblenzer’s service to our country as we honor all service men and women and their families.

Koblenzer admits he’s received previous admonishments in similar situations. Once 2 years ago for getting a fountain drink on the job and a second time for giving a cup of coffee to a customer – which he claims was paid for by the customer but Cracker Barrel disagreed.

Rules are rules. Its a rule. They legally can do this because I did break the rule. Hurt me? Oh yeah it has, Koblenzer said.

According to Koblenzer he feels bad that the event has reflected poorly on Cracker Barrel and he’s already missing his regular customers and co-workers.

During his time with Cracker Barrel he had earned the maximum amount of “stars on his apron”  for job performance and responsibility – an accomplishment Koblenzer says he took much pride in:

You know what? At 73 I was really proud of doing this. I was really proud of getting those stars. Yes it was against the rules and yes they had a right to let me go but morally it still feels like it was the right thing to do. I dont think I will be working for a corporation again, so I dont know if that will ever come up. Ha, Koblenzer said.

Joe Koblenzer says he’s looking for a new job to supplement his social security income but isn’t quite sure at this time what that will be.

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