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New Car Ends Man's 21-Mile Walk To Work

Postby sunnyd » Fri Feb 06, 2015 7:54 pm

This story has made worldwidel headlines all week long, and it's the type of "feel good" story that easily restores faith in humanity, and proves without a doubt that people are still very generous. It's all about James Robertson, and if you use your favorite search engine and search for his name, there are no shortage of articles from this week.

First of all, here's his story (this is from the gofundme campaign that was started for James initially asking for only $5,000.00)...

Leaving home in Detroit at 8 a.m., James Robertson doesn't look like an endurance athlete.

Pudgy of form, shod in heavy work boots, Robertson trudges almost haltingly as he starts another workday.

But as he steps out into the cold, Robertson, 56, is steeled for an Olympic-sized commute. Getting to and from his factory job 23 miles away in Rochester Hills, he'll take a bus partway there and partway home. And he'll also walk an astounding 21 miles.

Five days a week. Monday through Friday.

It's the life Robertson has led for the last decade, ever since his 1988 Honda Accord quit on him.

Every trip is an ordeal of mental and physical toughness for this soft-spoken man with a perfect attendance record at work. And every day is a tribute to how much he cares about his job, his boss and his coworkers. Robertson's daunting walks and bus rides, in all kinds of weather, also reflect the challenges some metro Detroiters face in getting to work in a region of limited bus service, and where car ownership is priced beyond the reach of many.

But you won't hear Robertson complain — nor his boss.

James Robertson, 56, of Detroit, walks toward Woodward Ave. in Detroit to catch his morning bus to Somerset Collection in Troy before walking to his job at Schain Mold & Engineering in Rochester Hills on Thursday January 29, 2015. James walks 21 miles daily round trip to his job.Robertson's roundtrip commute requires a bus ride each direction as well as nearly 21-miles of walking consuming 22 hours of his day before beginning again throughout the work week.

The sheer time and effort of getting to work has ruled Robertson's life for more than a decade, ever since his car broke down. He didn't replace it because, he says, "I haven't had a chance to save for it." His job pays $10.55 an hour, well above Michigan's minimum wage of $8.15 an hour but not enough for him to buy, maintain and insure a car in Detroit.

As hard as Robertson's morning commute is, the trip home is even harder.

At the end of his 2-10 p.m. shift as an injection molder at Schain Mold's squeaky-clean factory just south of M-59, and when his coworkers are climbing into their cars, Robertson sets off, on foot — in the dark — for the 23-mile trip to his home off Woodward near Holbrook. None of his coworkers lives anywhere near him, so catching a ride almost never happens.

Instead, he reverses the 7-mile walk he took earlier that day, a stretch between the factory and a bus stop behind Troy's Somerset Collection shopping mall.

"I keep a rhythm in my head," he says of his seemingly mechanical-like pace to the mall.

At Somerset, he catches the last SMART bus of the day, just before 1 a.m. He rides it into Detroit as far it goes, getting off at the State Fairgrounds on Woodward, just south of 8 Mile. By that time, the last inbound Woodward bus has left. So Robertson foots it the rest of the way — about 5 miles — in the cold or rain or the mild summer nights, to the home he shares with his girlfriend.

At the plant, coworkers feel odd seeing one of their team numbers always walking, says Charlie Hollis, 63, of Pontiac. "I keep telling him to get him a nice little car," says Hollis, also a machine operator.

Echoes the plant manager Wilson, "We are very much trying to get James a vehicle." But Robertson has a routine now, and he seems to like it, his coworkers say.

"If I can get away, I'll pick him up. But James won't get in just anybody's car. He likes his independence," Wilson says.

Robertson has simple words for why he is what he is, and does what he does. He speaks with pride of his parents, including his father's military service.

"I just get it from my family. It's a lot of walking, I know."

This goal would help James get a nice vehicle along with a few months of insurance payments. Thank you everyone for helping James get back into a car!


Evan Leedy, a college student who saw the original story about James and his 21 mile walk to work, created the gofundme campaign initially only for $5,000.00 to help get him a car, and people were so moved and inspired by this man's dedication and perseverance, that the campaign as of this post is up to $316,456.00 (and still growing). He won't have to use any of it for a car, a local Ford dealer gave him a brand new car today, the exact car that James said he would like to have some day. They are ending the campaign on Sunday, and his future definitely looks much brighter. :wink:

Here's a video explaining parts of the story and showing him being surprised with a brand new car: http://www.clickondetroit.com/news/new- ... k/31139416

Here's more information on CNN...
http://www.cnn.com/2015/02/06/us/detroi ... -gets-car/

- - - - - - - - - - - - -
After reading this man's story, I don't think I will ever complain about my drive to work again, or traffic, etc. What an incredible story this is, and how initially only two people were trying to help this man, and now thousands have helped to change his life forever. Donations for this man have poured in like a tsunami. Also extremely noteworthy is the fact that it brings to light the real public transit issues that so many people deal with, and ever since this story went viral, it's helping to bring that issue up front and center. The people that can do something about that, are really paying attention now.

There are hundreds of stories telling more about how all this began last weekend, but this should suffice for a good summary. Perfect attendance at work, mostly walking 21 miles!! I hope his employer gives him a raise after all this publicity. At least six (or maybe seven) different countries have been represented in the donations for this man, that all began with just asking for $5,000.00 to help get him a car. Fortunately a team of financial advisors and others will begin working with this man next week. He has yet to even ask how or when he will get any of the money that's been donated. After getting his car, the dealership had someone drive him in it to work (he refused to miss work), but he said it had been so long since he had driven, he wanted time to get used to it.

:thumbup:

I know this is not a typical Slyck news story at all which is why I posted it in the lounge, but it's a great story. :wink:
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Re: New Car Ends Man's 21-Mile Walk To Work

Postby sunnyd » Sat Feb 07, 2015 8:12 am

I forgot to add that ABC World News Tonight made James Robertson the "person of the week"...

http://abcnews.go.com/WNT/video/james-r ... t-28789741

He is deemed as a very humble man that never asked anyone for anything.
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Re: New Car Ends Man's 21-Mile Walk To Work

Postby bmh67wa » Wed Feb 11, 2015 5:24 pm

Awesome story! :thumbup:
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Re: New Car Ends Man's 21-Mile Walk To Work

Postby sunnyd » Wed Feb 11, 2015 6:02 pm

There was a considerable amount of concern for James' safety following the worldwide publicity, so here's an update to the story (he has been temporarily relocated until he can find a different place to live)...

Police Help Hard-Walkin' Detroiter Move To Safer Home

http://www.freep.com/story/news/local/m ... /23197645/

Well-wishers worldwide told us they worried for the safety of James Robertson -- the hard-walkin' factory worker gifted with a new car and $350K. This week, police took action.

The Detroiter who stunned the world with Olympian walks to his suburban factory job - and stunned himself by attracting gifts of a new car and $350,000 in donations - abruptly moved Tuesday to a location he felt was safer, police said.

James Robertson, 56, was helped by Detroit police to move just minutes after crime-prevention specialists offered him temporary living quarters, Detroit police Capt. Aric Tosqui said.

"We had a meeting with him (and) he expressed interest that he did not feel safe," said Tosqui, commanding officer of the 3rd Precinct.
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