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Image: Robert Castro

Walk into the Publix on Bay Street near downtown and the brightest face you’ll see belongs to Adam Mangold. The tall, 33-year-old associate, who proudly tells you he signed on with Publix “on March 15, 2005,” has been diagnosed on the autism spectrum, and reflects Publix’s commitment to hiring people with diverse backgrounds and abilities. That policy “raises morale” for staff and customers alike, says store manager Jill Santorelli, who has worked with Adam since Day 1. “He’s a hard worker and a team player,” she says. “His spirits are always high and our customers love him.” Outside of work, Adam, who lives with a roommate who’s a family friend, loves playing online video games. But even on his days off, he’ll drive to Publix, “just to say hi to everybody and hang out,” he says.”

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Image: Robert Castro

9:10 a.m. “I’m punching in. I’m a night owl—I’ll take a nap after work and then play video games until 5 a.m. So sometimes I run 5 or 10 minutes late.”

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Image: Robert Castro

10:34 a.m. “I’m doing a go-back—putting something back on the shelf—and talking to another associate. Just about everybody is friendly and nice; sometimes I’ll give people rides home in my car.” 

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Image: Robert Castro

11:48 a.m. “Some customers like their bags packed light; or they might want all the cold stuff together. When it comes to this job, I’ve pretty much done it all.” 

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Image: Robert Castro

2:29 p.m. “My manager says I’m doing good and that everybody loves me. Everywhere I go, I see customers. One saw me when I was with my father and brother in Niagara Falls two years ago!”

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Image: Robert Castro

3:17 p.m. “I’m bringing the carts back in. Our store has an elevator and you can put five carts at a time on it.”

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Image: Robert Castro

6:18 p.m. “My brother’s wife’s dad takes down old traffic lights for the county. He got me this one and my dad hooked it up for me for Christmas. It’s one of my favorite things ever.”

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Image: Robert Castro

6:32 p.m. “I have corn dogs for breakfast, lunch and dinner at home. When I’m at work, sometimes I’ll go to Tijuana Flats or Wendy’s.”

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Image: Robert Castro

8:49 p.m. “I bowl in a league every Thursday night—usually I score around 130-140. If we win, we win; if we lose, we lose. I’m just there to hang out and have fun.” 

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Image: Robert Castro

11:50 p.m. “I’m playing Grand Theft Auto. I play online every night. I even play with someone from the South Pole. On TV, I like The Science Channel and How It’s Made.”

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