WORKPLACE / FEB. 15, 2015
version 4, draft 4

James Robertson Walks 21 Miles to Work - What's Your Excuse?

James Robertson is a Detroit native who has been employed for twelve years at a parts factory. This may not seem noteworthy or significant (even if you add his perfect record of attendance). The thing that makes Robertson’s story (and perfect attendance) astounding is the fact that, at age 56, he walks 21 miles for four hours a day to and from work. And he’s been doing it for the past ten years.

Why walk?

You’d think that someone would use public transportation before walking the whole distance, right? You really think if that was an option for this poor man, he wouldn’t have figured it out after a few years of drugging through snow, rain and artic temperatures? Always keep in mind that we are talking about Detroit, Michigan. That is the last state before the Great White North, and it’s not called that because it is mainly inhabited by Caucasians. It’s because it’s freakin’ cold and snowy. Oh, and so is Michigan. So, do you really think that this man would not choose an alternative mode of transportation if it was available?

The reason

Robertson only selectively has the option of jumping on a bus throughout his commute. Detroit is pretty car heavy – it’s called the Motor City after all – so, although buses exist, their schedule is spotty, and their routes are sporadic and inconsistent. In the area close to Robertson’s place of employment, bus routes are completely non-existent because voters of the suburb opted out from being taxed for mass transit.

What happened?

I see you’re trembling from anticipation, so let me just get to it. A college student caught wind of Robertson’s story and started a fund on his behalf with a meager target of $5,000 (that would buy Robertson a reliable car). By the end of the funding process, the cause had raised a whopping $350,000. Robertson’s days of walking are over.

The generosity went beyond that

A car dealership in the area actually gave Robertson a car (a brand new Ford Taurus), so not only does Mr. Robertson have a well-deserved car, he also has money to gas it up and keep it safe.

Resilience

The thing that Mr. Robertson teaches us through his heartwarming story is that resilience is a powerful, inspiring attribute. It inspires, and people respect when someone through adversity still does the right thing. It would have been easy for Mr. Robertson to just give up, quit his job, but he didn’t; he continued walking those 21 miles day after day.

Do you have another admirable person that is worth mentioning? Let us know in the comment section below.

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