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.
Content as he is with his current vocation, Gainey continues to wait; an amateur DJ, he’s waiting to catch his big break.
“Music is my real passion,” he explained. “That’s what I want to do with my life.”
Gainey explained he’s only been DJing for a little over four years, a hobby he picked up during his time at Monroe Community College where he studied computer animation. Though his current position at The Pit keeps him mostly busy during the week, he’s always eager to secure the all-too-elusive weekend gig.
A self-described beginner, Gainey confessed that his shows are a work in progress. Sometimes, if all goes right, they’re awesome, and he even makes a couple new industry connections. Sometimes, though, they’re downright shoddy. Regardless, Gainey continues to perform at local venues, learning from his past mistakes and noting potential improvements.
“It was pretty nerve-racking,” he remembered of his debut show. “My equipment shut down during parts of the concert, but the audience seemed to enjoy it anyway.”
Gainey himself seems to share his listeners’ happy-go-lucky, relaxed attitude about life. Although he hasn’t quite made a name for himself yet, he already has plans for a worldwide tour.
“I want to share my music with everyone,” he said, adding that “Europeans love their dubstep.”
While Gainey’s dreams of superstardom remain to be seen, one thing is for sure: His joie de vivre is infectious, and everyone, it seems, is rooting for team Curtis.
“Whether it’s DJing or not, as long as he’s committed, I can see Curtis doing anything he puts his mind to doing,” Scoby said. “To know that he is continuing to pursue his passion for music definitely shows he will do whatever it takes to accomplish his goals.”
An optimist as well, Gainey nevertheless understands that it’s not as simple as packing his bags and booking the next one-way flight to Munich. While he plans to keep his job at The Pit for “another good couple years,” his musical aspirations will always occupy the back of his brain.
“Bottom line is you gotta express yourself,” he said. “Once I’m able to dedicate my time entirely to DJing, that’s exactly what I’m gonna do.”
Until then, Gainey will just have to wait.
Gould is a member of the class of 2014.
Additional reporting by Jessica Zhang.