At RTD, we’re committed to the highest standards in public transit, and each month we highlight operators or other staff members for their exceptional customer service. This month we would like to feature Gary Leikness, who has taken his commitment to the community we serve beyond RTD.
From Photojournalist James Dougherty:“James Dougherty, a photojournalist from Denver 7 stopped a man on the 16th Street Mall with a question, “Where are your shoes?” The man answered, “I just gave em to a homeless guy”. That man was Gary Leikness, a dispatch operator at Civic Center Station, who went to grab lunch and while walking back, noticed a man who appeared to be homeless, shuffling around with a bare foot and a hospital slipper on the other foot. Gary approached and asked the man what size shoe he wears, when the man said size 10 and a half, Gary told him he wears a size 10 and gave the man his Sketchers, which he owned for six months. Gary told Dougherty, the donation was “no big deal” he owns several other pairs of shoes. Dougherty touched by the incident tweeted about the encounter, writing “There is definitely good in this world.” .”
After receiving the commendations, we wanted to know more about Gary, and he graciously agreed to answer a few of our questions.
- How long have you worked for RTD?
- I started working for the bus company in May of 1973. Mr. Leonard Roach hired me on Friday and said I would start on Monday. The drivers went on strike and the pay was $4.83 an hour. When the strike was settled the new pay was $4.58 an hour. I drove for 19 years and after being shot at twice, I became a dispatch operator for 16 years, which I am now.
- What were you in a previous life?
- I guess my previous life was working for Denver Metro Transit or DMT. When I started it was not called RTD, it was Denver Metro Transit. In 1974 they organized RTD. My starting badge number was 422 and when it changed over to RTD it was 1562.
- What do you like best about your job?
- I retired in 2008 after 35 years; I just got tired of coming in every day. I came back as an adjunct dispatcher because I love the job. I really like that I can still come in and help out when I’m needed.
- If you could listen to music while working, what type?
- I would listen to classic country.
- What are your favorite hobbies or activities?
- Golf and genealogy. I think genealogy is fascinating and fun to trace my family’s origin. I recently found out that my family’s last name was once Kristiansen, which is Norwegian.
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