Weekday mornings before the sun ever peaks over the horizon Steve Keating slips on his light charcoal gray shirt with his name stitched in white on the pocket of his right-hand corner. He has kind eyes, a warm smile, and serves as Texas Wesleyan Universities go-to facilities maintenance guy over the apartments of West Village, the security building, and the Graduate Program of Nurse Anesthesia building.
The maintenance at Wesleyan are our unsung heroes – keeping toilets unclogged, light fixtures working, pools running, trash emptied, and students happy.
After 13 years working at Wesleyan, his caring personality inevitably prompts him to go above and beyond his actual duties.
Sachiko Jayaratne, a senior at Texas Wesleyan, who goes by Chiko, is a resident assistant for West Village. She coordinates with Steve throughout the semester to make sure residents have their toilets unclogged and light fixtures working, but her friendship with him started three years ago during the second semester of her freshman year.
Walking to class at 10 a.m. on an excruciatingly sunny day, Chiko, who is consistently irritated by the damage UV rays from the sun can do to your skin, was covering her arms with a book.
“Steve asked me why I was covering myself up, so I explained to him how much I don’t like the sun, and just didn’t want to be exposed to it,” Chiko said.
The following day, Steve found Chiko on her way to class and handed her a large white, and red striped umbrella, with a logo imprinted at the bottom that says 2XS Sports. Its black handle opened up the umbrella with ease for her to use to help cover herself up from the sun.
Chiko still has the umbrella stored in her closet for the sunny days.
“That moment was significant to me. He is always there when you need him. He always tries to understand issues at hand before stepping into something, is very well aware of his surroundings, very vigilant, and timely. Always timely.”
Steve drives 38 miles from the rock home he built in Alvarado, Texas to be on campus, in his golf cart, by 6:30 a.m. to scan the universities grounds and gear up for his day.
Every day is different for Steve, but while his work holds an element of spontaneity, he always seems to find a way to make it memorable, especially when it comes to serving students at the West Village apartments.
“My wife has long hair, so I have to do this at my house, but when I unstop drains and have a young lady watching me just to see what I’m going to pull out of the drain – which is almost always a big ole long ball of hair covered in soap, shampoo and whatever else – I get out what I call my ‘goo-getters’ to reach way down in the drain,” Steve said.
When the ‘goo-getters’ click and Steve pinches it, he makes a dramatic scene as though whatever is in the drain is alive and pulling him down into it. It inevitably makes the girls scream, and take off running.
“I’m always messing with the students to keep it lively, and to let them know that I’m like anyone else – I like to have fun.”
Steve’s curiosity as a kid followed him into adulthood. He always wanted to know how things worked, and claims he’d even pick apart his work walky-talky to check out all of its components if it wouldn’t get him in trouble.
At 55, Steve plans on working at Wesleyan until he retires.
“I enjoy being around the students. It’s always sad to see the ones that graduate go, but I’m always excited to meet the news ones that come,” Steve said. “Wesleyan has been, and is a wonderful place to work.”