Bojangles' Manager Gives Teen w/ Autism a Chance. Few Weeks After Hiring Him, He Knows...
Anthony Smith remembers the first time he laid eyes on new employee Gabe Bowen. It was Smith’s first day as manager of a Bojangles’ restaurant location in Arden, North Carolina.
Gabe, a high school junior, has autism. “I was told that this kid could only sweep the parking lot and clean tables,” Smith recalled, words other employees had offered because of Gabe’s autism.
Gabe had only been with the restaurant chain for a few months, and was described as “very introverted” and easily panicked.
But Smith just didn’t feel right keeping the teenager quietly working behind the scenes, as the shy boy appeared willing to take on more responsibility.
“That didn’t sit well with me,” Smith said of confining Gabe to cleanup duty. “I could see the eagerness to learn in his eyes and he told me one day that he could do it.”
Smith recalled one particular day when an employee left work early. Without a word, Gabe put on the headphones and began taking customer’s orders.
“I never asked him to do it,” a proud Smith said. “He showed great initiative.”
Watching the teen work, an impressed Smith told Gabe he was now a part of the drive-thru team.
Smith recalled how Gabe exploded with excitement, running back behind the counter with a newfound confidence and eagerness.
Smith took to social media to praise Gabe for working so hard and progressing so quickly. “I placed him on my front register (never short), and today he’s running my drive-thru!” Smith exclaimed.
“I’m so proud of him and how he’s opening up!” Smith wrote. The teen who once spent his shift in an anxious, quiet state, is now managing orders like a pro, under Smith’s mentorship.
Gabe’s parents were delighted, thanking Smith for taking a chance on their son. As Gabe’s story gains more attention, Smith reported many others are asking to work on their team.
“Never limit those with the potential to be unlimited,” Smith wrote in conclusion. “Go Gabe! My dude!”
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