A Vietnam Vet was recently fired from his job as greeter for a Cracker Barrel restaurant in Venice, Florida, because he gave a muffin to a hungry man. The management had to fire the elderly man because, they said, he violated company policy 5 times and that was just too much.
This story quickly went viral on the internet and garnered its share of outraged comments. One comment caught my attention. The author said that no company could stay in business if it permitted its employees to "steal" merchandise. The muffin belongs to the Cracker Barrel and not the greeter. The greeter said he had been warned about taking company property when he took a sip of carbonated sugar water (my words, not his). Anyone who has spent any time in Florida can understand the temptation to keep hydrated, never mind the cost.
The elderly have a tough time in Florida, as everywhere else. They retire from their jobs and head south, intending to live on Social Security and their savings. The savings soon run out and the Social Security check is not sufficient to cover living expenses. What to do? Many take minimum wage jobs as greeters in restaurants or baggers in grocery stores, like this fellow employed by Venice's Cracker Barrel. Apparently, Cracker Barrel's ace executive staff believes the company wouldn't survive if it permitted employees to give away a muffin to a hungry man or take a swig of water every week or so.
Who are these modern Scrooges? You guessed it, they are members of the wealthiest one percent of Americans. The CEO of Cracker Barrel makes in excess of one million dollars a year in salary. Naturally, she has to protect her livelihood by forbidding her minions from handing out muffins to the hungry. After all, as every one percenter knows, people are poor because they want to be, and we can't permit those lazy rapscallions to sponge off the rest of us.
The CEO of Cracker Barrel, Sandra Cochran, is undoubtedly resistant to the pleas of the less than fortunate because she has worked her way up from...uh, she was hired by the owner of Books a Million as Vice President of Finance in 1985, when she was 29. I'm sure most of us wish we hadn't passed up the opportunity to become VP of something or other at age 29, but we just were too lazy to take the opportunity, unlike Cochran.
Anyway, Cochran now heads Cracker Barrel and has established the policy that anyone giving away anything must be fired forthwith. That's because Cracker Barrel already gives away money through its charity to
programs that address children, youth and family issues, and emphasize traditional values such as hard work, education and self-reliance.Notice that Cracker Barrel emphasizes self-reliance, which clearly poor people do not possess.
The propensity for the one-percent to refuse food to the rest of us is spreading. New York City made it illegal for restaurants to distribute food to the hungry because, as Mayor Bloomberg claimed, the poor might be getting too much fat or salt or something else like that in their diets. The Buttery Shelf Eatery in Indiana was forced to stop feeding the poor one meal a week by its neighbors, who objected to the line of undesirable poor people who showed up to eat the meal. It was running down the neighborhood, they said.
Some organizations have resisted this trend. St. Anthony's Dining Room in San Francisco has been offering hot meals to the poor since 1950. The trend to outlaw giving food away to the hungry has been associated with the "not in my back yard" movement (NIMBY). Those of us who are not one-percenters should catch a clue. If you're not in the one percent, it's not your backyard--it's theirs.