Gabe Marsh

Guntersville's Gabe Marsh (front) has gone to work at McDonald's. Shown with him are, in back from left, Angel Abernathy, Ashley Reyes and manager Tim Finley.

Lots of teens get their very first experience in the world of employment working for McDonald’s. One who started working there for the very first time this week is Gabe Marsh.

Gabe is the young Guntersville man who was born with only one arm and no legs. But he’s never looked at himself as disabled. He’s well-known all over town because he swims competitively and he buzzes around anywhere he wants to go either on a skateboard or a motorized wheelchair. He’s the son of Ed and Ann Marsh.

Just as it was with his swimming, he saw other people doing something and knew he could do it too.

“We’d been to a swim event and we stopped to eat at Jack’s,” Gabe said. “The guy who brought the food out had one arm. I said, ‘I can do that.’”

That started the wheels in motion.

Gabe is friends with John Bruce, Christy and Brad Bruce’s youngest son. They’ve gone to school together since kindergarten and will be juniors at GHS this year. So will another classmate and fellow McDonald’s employee, Tucker Leach.

Gabe’s mom told Christy he was interested in working in fast food.

“We brought him in for an interview and looked around for a position that would work for him,” Christy said.

That position was taking orders at the front counter, although Gabe may soon learn to do the same thing at the drive-through window.

Christy got him an office chair that would get him to the right height to work the counter. Tuesday was his first day.

“I think he knew half the people who came in and placed an order,” Christy said.

Gabe worked a 4-hour shift, which is pretty typical when a new employee is training. He picked up on things fast.

“I didn’t learn everything about working the register, but I learned a lot,” he said.

“He had a mask on, but I could tell he was smiling ear-to-ear,” Christy said. Gabe has one of those infectious smiles and just seems happy anytime you see him anyway.

The 4-hour shift didn’t wear him down.

“I didn’t get tired at all,” he said. But after all, he is an athlete.

He started on the register at 9 a.m. By 10 a.m., he was running it pretty much by himself with no guidance. He’s working closely with Tim Finley, McDonald’s day shift manager.

“Tim is great,” Christy said. “He loves working with school age kids and teaching them.”

Ann had told Christy to text her if any issues or problems arose. That wasn’t necessary. It was a good first day.

Gabe is planning to go back to traditional, in-person school for the fall. Swimming is on hold because of coronavirus, but more adventures likely await.

“Gabe is 16 and he’s about to learn to drive,” Christy said. “There’s a program in Huntsville that he can go through to learn to operate a car with one hand.”

She said Gabe took to the job so well “he looked like he’d been doing it a long time.”

Christy said if there are any other young people out there who need a first job, they’d love to hear from them.

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