The Veteran, the Homeless Man, and the Cracker Barrel Incident

It’s the kind of story that gets you all shades of angry… especially during a month where we celebrate the men and the women that serve our country.

Perhaps you’ve heard the story.

Recently, a 73-year-old Vietnam veteran was fired from his job at Cracker Barrel for giving a needy person a corn muffin – and not making him pay for it.

Joe Koblenzer was fired from the Florida restaurant after Cracker Barrel said he had committed his fifth violation of company policy, which includes not giving away food and not consuming food without paying for it.

What happened was that a man – who looked like he may be homeless – approached Koblenzer, asking him for mayo and tartar sauce so that he could cook fish. Koblenzer gave him the condiments – and threw in the corn muffin.

Koblenzer says that he did break the rules, and understands why he was fired, but that it was worth it and he would do it again. He also said that if Cracker Barrel had asked him to pay for the muffin, he would have.

After the story got out, Cracker Barrel released this response: “Mr. Koblenzer has worked as a host at Cracker Barrel’s Sarasota store since April 2011. During the time he 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. On the fifth occasion, again per Company policy, Mr. Koblenzer was terminated. 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, who worked at Cracker Barrel to supplement his monthly Social Security benefits, is looking for a new job, but isn’t sure what he will do next.

If you were in his shoes, what would you have done? Do you agree with how Cracker Barrel handled the incident?

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