StoryCorps at SHC: Curtis Dance and Ricardo Guzman

That was one of my happiest moments.

Ricardo Guzman (RG): My name is Ricardo Guzman and I want to talk about my best friend, Curtis Dance.

Curtis Dance (CD): Hi, my name is Curtis. I worked for dietary and my relationship with Ricardo is a very good friend. I first started back in 1980 and I started out as a tray carrier. I did tray carrying for about 13 years. My manager had told me about this position over at the main hospital as a lead worker. So I applied for the position and I got the position as a lead.

RG: That's when I first met you.

CD: That's when we first met.

RG: But that was something different than what you did at the Hoover Pavilion.

CD:  It was something totally different. When I came to the cafeteria, it was more hands on with dealing with customers, and that was something that I was really truly comfortable with.

RG: That was something that I wasn't comfortable with. That's something that I looked at you, and what I was thinking was how you able to do that with customers? Just so easily being able to talk to them. Can you tell me about one customer in particular that you touched?

CD: There are so many. One morning when we opened the doors, this elderly lady come into the cafeteria, and when she came in, I could look in her face and see that there was something wrong. When I walked over to her, I said, "Ma'am, how can I help you?" She said, "I'm here with my husband and they took him into the ER." I gathered from that conversation that we were having, that was the first time that she was separated from her husband.

I kind of eased her mind by saying, "Ma'am, he's in a good institution, he's in good hands." I said, "Right now, what I need for you to do is not have no negative thoughts in your mind. I want everything that you think be a positive thought." Just before she got relieved, I said, "My name is Curtis, and I said if you need a shoulder to lean on, I'm here."

RG: Did she come back?

CD: Guess what? She came back.

CD: That was one of my happiest moments. When she came back to me and she thanked me, that made me feel real good. That was one of my greatest moments.

RG: Nice. Who has been the biggest influence in your life in retail?

CD: I'm going to share this with you and you probably don't know this, but I'm going to share it with you. It was you, Rick.

RG: Me?

CD: Yes, it was you. The reason why it was you, because when I came to the cafeteria, there was a whole lot of things that I didn't know, and you was the one that coached me and helped me with the things that I needed to know about the cafeteria. I never really told you, so I'm surprising you today.

RG: Yes, you are. Thank you. I really didn't know that.


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