Curtis Gainey waits.
No, he’s not a waiter at a sit-down restaurant. He’s an orange-aproned food worker at The Pit. Therefore, he waits. Sure, he’ll mop the floor or refill the napkin canister when the occasion arises, but until that happens, he waits. Till a student spills his or her drink. Till the condiment dispenser runs out. Till his shift ends and he can clock out and return to his humble two-bedroom house near Irondequoit Bay. Till he can take off the apron for good and focus on his DJing career full time, now limited to nights and weekends.
Still, he likes his job at The Pit. Workdays fly by for the 24-year old who spends most of his time near the cash registers chatting with anyone who stops to listen. Gainey’s job may be behind the scenes, but somehow, he manages to stay front and center.
“I get to meet so many kinds of people from so many different backgrounds,” Gainey said. “That’s one good thing about this place. No one is ever boring to me, and I try to never make it boring for anyone else.”
Junior Ahsum Khan said Gainey is one of the friendliest persons he’s ever met.
“I always hear him cracking jokes by the silverware,” Khan said. “I love it.”
Gainey’s coworkers, some of whom have only known him for a matter of weeks, could not agree more.
“He’s a funny guy,” said Sara Johnson, a cashier at The Pit. “He’s very entertaining and definitely puts a smile on our faces.”
A Rochesterian by birth, Gainey has worked with Dining Services for the past two years. Before this, his career included a stint as an orderly at a psychiatric institution. With a tough graveyard shift and somber work environment, he found himself battling his own inner demons. So when his application for a food service worker position at UR went through, he accepted in a heartbeat.
Gainey cites much of his success to Continuing Developmental Services (CDS) Monarch, a Webster based agency that helps fulfill the transitional and employment needs of some 1,700 people with various disabilities.
“He’s an outgoing and easygoing person,” Program Manager Christina Scoby said. “He’s a dedicated worker, and I think that’s evident from his contributions to the University.”
Scoby, who has been with CDS Monarch for five years, oversees the many job coaches who deal intimately with members like Gainey. According to her, it’s “people like Curtis who make my job worthwhile.”
“He really stands out from the crowd,” Scoby added.
While she and others continue to keep in frequent contact with Gainey, he’s largely settled into his post at The Pit and seems to be enjoying himself.
“I’ll stay here forever as long as I don’t have to go back to my last job,” he quipped.