OTC: Mike Keith, Oberlin College Transportation Department


Jackie Brant

Mike Keith.

Mike Keith has worked at Oberlin College for the past seven years. He started out as part of the custodial staff in Dascomb Hall, and has since moved to transportation services for the College. During his time at Dascomb Hall, Keith was known for being a warm and enthusiastic member of the community and for going out of his way to welcome students. He has been dubbed by many students and signs off his emails as “Dascomb Mike”.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Where are you from? Are you originally from Oberlin?

I’m originally from Texas, and I moved up here to the Oberlin area in 1991 with my parents. [I’ve been] working here for — going on my seventh year.

What kind of stuff did you do while you were working at Dascomb?

Mostly cleaning — cleaning the building, cleaning the restrooms, stuff like that. I did the whole second floor and the west end of the first floor.

What did you like best about working at Dascomb?

I liked being around the students a lot. They were a lot of fun, and I made a lot of good friends.

Do you still keep up with residents who used to live in Dascomb when you worked there?

Yeah, quite a few of them. I go to lunch with them sometimes, but I usually just see them around and stop to talk, especially around the Science Center.

Can you explain what you did for everyone’s birthdays? That’s something old residents remember fondly about you.

I probably started doing it my second year working at Dascomb. I started doing it because, you know, students are away from home and everything, and some students probably don’t get birthday cards on their birthday or they get it late. That’s why I started doing it. I did a card and candy. And around the winter break I’d give everyone — the whole building — holiday cards.

How do you remember everyone’s names from Dascomb? That’s something I always remember about you, you always seemed to know every resident’s name.

I have no clue; it’s surprising to me at times, too. Yeah, I don’t know how. I have a pretty decent memory, I’d say. It probably stems from writing all those birthday cards out too, that helps you remember everyone’s names.

You once signed an email to me last year as “Dascomb Mike.” Are you aware that this is something that students call you, and if you do, do you know how it came about?

I never knew that, I never knew that. I just signed that because there are so many Mikes and who knows which Mike I’m talking about, so I just signed it that so everyone would know, “Oh yeah, that’s Mike from Dascomb.”

What’s the most memorable situation you ever had to deal with or that you witnessed at Dascomb when you worked there?

Oh, maybe a kid kicking a hole through the wall in the second floor lounge. Yeah, they called me. They called someone else to fix it, but they called me to come clean it up. I’ve seen the video of it though — it was hilarious, it was just crazy. He was just having a good time — he was probably drunk.

Is that something you had to deal with a lot when you worked in Dascomb?

No, not really, actually. You know, I don’t know why, but the kids never really messed up the area too much. Every now and then they’d mess it up, but it wasn’t really too bad.

When did you stop working at Dascomb and what have you been doing since then?

I stopped working at Dascomb February of last year and I’ve been in the Transportation Services department since then. That just consists of moving people around, and you know, setting up events and stuff like that.

Do you miss working at Dascomb at all?

Just the student aspect of it. I don’t miss the cleaning of the bathrooms and stuff like that.

I remember you came to my soccer game last spring when I used to live in Dascomb, and I know you went for Jordyn Morris on my team, who lived in Dascomb her freshman year. Did you often go to students’ events like that?

You know, if students tell me about it, like plays or things, I try to go. Like Cat Potts, she reached out to me a couple times and said, “Hey Mike, I’m having a play this week,” and you know, I’ll go and see it. I still go now too if someone tells me they have something to come see.

Will you be sad to see the Dascomb Dining Hall go next year?

Yeah. Yeah I will, but you know, I understand what they’re trying to do. But I’m still definitely sad to see it go.

What does a typical day at work look like for you now?

Oh, man. Well, with the All Roads stuff, it was extremely busy. You know, doing those events, setting up for the various events in the Science Center corridor for the stuff for prospective students. We get work orders every day from our boss that’ll say like “Hey, you have to go move a piano out of Bibbins Hall and take it to Stull Hall,” things like that.

Where’s your favorite place to eat on campus or in town?

I like that one spot, Kim’s [Grocery]. There’s not too much I eat anymore now, I’ve gone vegan. Well, not really vegan right now, vegetarian actually.

Do you think Dascomb Dining Hall food is better than Stevenson Dining Hall’s food?

I thought Stevie was better, actually. Just because they have more of a variety over there though. If I would’ve started out at Stevie though, I probably would’ve thought Dascomb was better.

What do you think about Safety and Security moving into Dascomb Hall next year?

I think it’s better, just because of the disability aspect, you know. I mean, some people can’t get up to Safety and Security where it’s at now. It’s been hard for them. And you know, now they’ll be able to come in, and it’ll just be a lot easier, and the same with Student Health Services going in there. It’ll be a lot closer for everybody — you won’t have to walk all the way over to the west end of the town.