How far would you be willing to walk just to get to and from work, school, or other places you had to go? I know most people wouldn’t want to walk more than 1-2 miles per day to get where they need to go. That’s what set this Detroit, Michigan resident, James Robertson, apart from most people. This Detroit man’s daily commute is making headlines. James is 56 years old and walks 21 miles total to get to and from work. That seems like a bit much, but the buses don’t cover the distance that he does when it’s his time to commute. His home is in Detroit, but his job is in Rochester Hills. He walks about 8 miles to work and about 13 miles from work to his house. He also does this 5 days a week. Well this grabbed the attention of Bill Laitner of the Detroit Free Press. He decided that James’ story needed to be heard, and this story has inspired hundreds of people into offering money that would help him buy a car, pay for his car insurance, and also help give him enough money to cover the help he will need when it comes to managing his donations. Here is James Robertson’s story. Prepare for your heart to fill up with joy.
James Robertson walks 21 miles roundtrip to work. This only includes his walking distance; he also takes the bus to and from work, but there are no buses nearby for him to take.
Between work and commuting, he’s gone for 22 hours a day, allowing him 2 hours of sleep Monday – Friday.
He is able to sleep on the SMART bus for a brief time during his commute. Once he leaves the bus, he walks 8 miles to his job at Schain Mold & Engineering.
Occasionally he’ll receive a ride home or to work. In the above picture, UBS Vice President of Wealth Management, Blake Pollock, gave him a ride to work after he spotted James walking to work repeatedly.
James and Todd, the plant manager, tend to talk before their shifts start depending on what time James gets into work.
James does this walk during all seasons of the year. He says that he does it because he’s loyal to his job and workplace.
Because of this story, many people offered cash donations, bus ticket donations, and even their own cars that they had no use for.
With James’ work schedule, the Detroit bus system does not have buses available during the times he must go to and from work. They wanted to offer James a special bus that would pick him up from his house and take him to work, then do the same in the evening.
James wasn’t comfortable with that though and said, “I’d rather they spent that money on a 24-hour bus system, not on some little bus for me. This city needs buses going 24/7. You can tell the city council and mayor I said that.”
The cost of car insurance in Michigan is the highest in the nation, averaging $5,000 per year. It’s not uncommon to have the cost of insurance be more than the actual car payment. That’s why the bus system is so important in this area of the country.
Hundreds of people offered donations, like Stuart Sutherland, a student at Oakland University who wanted to make a cash donation. He said, “Monday is gonna be some bad weather and I don’t want him making that trek.” Joe Coppola, who is a recruiter for Optomi said, “I want to give him my 2004 Chevy Cavalier. It runs well and is certainly better than not having a car.”
Originally there was a crowd sourcing fundraiser set up with a goal of raising $5,000 for James, but by late Sunday night, they had exceeded their goal and had raised $75,000!!
Blake Pollock has offered to help James out with his finances so he can better organize where the money goes. Pollock said, “Putting a car in his driveway and just handing James the keys or filling his pockets with cash is not the answer. But with these resources now, we should be able to do something very positive for the guy.”
Pollock followed up by saying, “I think the hundreds of donors want this to go to James and not have this go out of his hands. So, if we can set up this little board to manage his money, I think that can happen. When I’m with him tomorrow, I’m going to talk to him about that.”
James Robertson is really impressive and inspiring. Rather than being down on his luck, he just takes it all in stride. This Detroit man’s daily commute looks very enduring, and not only that, he is left with just 2 hours of sleep per night. I’m sure he’s exhausted when he gets home, but to have to wake up again in just 2 hours for work would be unbearable! We hope he’s able to get himself in a safe, reliable car that will allow him more time to spend at home and less time commuting.
The U.S. Department of Transportation announced that Detroit will get more than $32 million to buy up to 50 new buses. They are scheduled to be put into service sometime this year.
In the meantime, Robertson will continue to walk more than 20 miles round-trip to and from work. He told the Detroit Free Times that he likes walking and being outdoors, and he has a perfect attendance record.
He also told the paper that, rather than craft a solution specifically for him, he hopes the local bus agencies will work toward broader, 24/7 service. What are your thoughts?