A Bakersfield teenager was fired from his fast-food job after he gave away food to a military veteran.
Alex Mesta, 19, said he gave two tacos and a coffee, which cost $1.28 and 85 cents respectively, to a veteran last Monday because he feels connected to military service. Mesta's brother is a Marine.
According to Mesta, a customer purchased tacos in the Jack in the Box drive-thru but decided not to pick them up. Instead of throwing away the food, Mesta decided to give the tacos to a veteran who walked in the fast-food restaurant shortly after. The veteran had a coffee cup he had purchased on an earlier date, which Mesta refilled for free.
Mesta was fired the same day. He says he has no plans to appeal the decision to Jack in the Box management and is currently searching for a job.
"Everyone has been really proud of me, but there's been a little bit of talk about me using the veteran as scapegoat," said Mesta.
A manager at the Jack in the Box declined to comment and instead directed requests for a statement to the company's corporate offices. Multiple calls seeking comment from the corporate offices were not returned.
But a company spokesperson told NBC affiliate KGET in part, "We too are grateful to our veterans and to the men and women currently serving in the armed forces. Regarding this incident, while it would not be appropriate to provide complete details on an internal disciplinary issue, our actions in this case were not based on just one incident and had nothing to do with the guest's military experience."
Mesta believes that in his particular situation there was no offense at all considering the tacos had already been purchased and Jack in the Box refills coffee for free. However, he said security cameras make it seem as if he was just giving someone free food because they do not show footage of the customer leaving the tacos in the drive-thru.
Mesta said that he was caught on security cameras Monday morning with what looks like him giving away free food, which he claimed is not a terminable offense for the first time. Rather, he believes based on his good record he should have received a warning or a write up. He has been promoted to team leader and has been written up once before when he first started two years ago for "not being talkative enough to customers." Anyone else caught providing free food typically "gets a slap on the wrist," according to Mesta.
"God bless this young man and his parents for raising him right if there is anybody out there that can offer this young man a job please inbox me," wrote Daniel Ortiz in a Facebook post garnering over 9,000 shares.