Key people: Theo Hooft

‘when I’m dead I’ll still be laughing.’
Theo Hooft, MAAS maintenance employee. He maintains the coffee machines in a number of locations on the Campus. Photo: Guy Ackermans

They are indispensable on campus: the cleaners, caretakers, caterers, gardeners, receptionists – the list is long. Resource looks up these key people. This time, meet Theo Hooft (60), operator for Maas (coffee machines) in Gaia, Lumen and Atlas.

‘I’m the problem-solver at Maas. I maintain 19 coffee machines here, and I help other people too since I know the ropes after working here for 20 years. I really like the technical side of the machines, the maintenance and the data extraction. And the social side: my clients are important to me and I am to them. Just having a laugh, a chat, explaining how a machine works, providing a service. I’m never grumpy, always positive – when I’m dead I’ll still be laughing. But sometimes I don’t want anyone around me, and then I go and have my lunch in the car. That’s when it gets too much for me, but I don’t show it. Like everyone else, I wear a mask, because everyone’s got secrets deep down.

Because of the coronavirus business, I’ve lost my routine — it’s dreadful. But half of the machines are switched off. Having hardly anything to do makes me tired. The advantage is that I calm down a bit at last; the disadvantage is that the unpleasant memories of my marriages come back.

‘I’ve got the gift of the gab. I was taken on at once’ 

I’ve done all sorts of jobs: roofing, selling bikes, cars and scrap metal, painting jobs and motorcycle maintenance. Before this I even worked in a bank for 12 and a half years, until there was a merger and I lost my job. I asked a guy from Maas who was standing by the coffee machine in our bank: are you looking for new people? Yes, I’ve got the gift of the gab. I was taken on at once. 

Because I was born with too small hip sockets, I get pain in the hips when I’ve done too much walking. I’ve already got one new hip, but the other one has started playing up now. But I just keep going, I’m a typical man.

I’m going to make macaroni now for three other people in my block of flats who can’t go out. If you were in that situation, you’d appreciate some help, wouldn’t you? I don’t know whether my help is appreciated. They often don’t take me very seriously, but if I’m treated kindly, I’m happy. Before you know it, you’re not here anymore – like a lot of my mates.’

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