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Vet Claims Cracker Barrel Fired Him For Giving Muffin To Needy Person

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Cracker Barrel says 73-year-old Joe Koblenzer violated company policy but the Vietnam veteran says he was just doing the right thing. (Tim Boyle/Getty Images)

Cracker Barrel says 73-year-old Joe Koblenzer violated company policy but the Vietnam veteran says he was just doing the right thing. (Tim Boyle/Getty Images)

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VENICE, Fla. (CBS Tampa) – A gesture of kindness cost a 73-year-old veteran his job at a Venice Cracker Barrel, reports WWSB-TV.

Joe Koblenzer has been working for three years as greeter for the restaurant. “It’s a fun job; a job really suited to me,” he told the station.

When a man who looked like he was homeless came by two weeks ago, Koblenzer didn’t think twice about helping him. “He looked a little needy,” said Koblenzer. “He asked if I had any mayonnaise and some tarter sauce. He said he was going to cook a fish.”

Koblenzer didn’t hesitate to help the man, bringing him tarter sauce packets. “I got it for him. As I walked out I put a corn muffin in.”

He thought the good deed was done, until his manager asked to speak to Koblenzer in the office. “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 admits it was his third strike. Two years ago he was written up for getting a fountain drink on the job and a second time he gave a cup of coffee to woman, though Koblenzer insists she paid for it.

Koblenzer says he’s not angry. “It’s a rule. They legally can do this because I did break the rule. I completely forgot about it. I am a host at Cracker Barrel with a little above minimum wage job.”

He says he’s sad and he misses the coworkers and customers he’s gotten to know. He even earned the maximum amount of stars on his apron for performance achievement and responsibility. “You know what? At 73, I was really proud of doing this. I was really proud of getting those stars.”

Cracker Barrel released a statement to WWSB-TV:

“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 polices 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.”

For his part, Koblenzer, who served in Vietnam, admits he broke the rules and the company has a right to let him go. But he is certain he did the right thing. “I feel badly. It shines a bad light on the company. I would not want that on any company, but it happened,” he said.

For now, Koblenzer is searching the want ads for a job that can supplement his Social Security and veterans benefits.  “I don’t think I will be working for a corporation again, so I don’t know if that will ever come up (laughs).”

(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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