For ten years James Robertson hasn’t missed a single day of work. What’s remarkable about the statistic is that he also walks 21 miles just to clock-in each afternoon – before walking 21 miles back home, eight hours later. For five days a week, Robertson, 56, trudges from his home in Detroit to his job at the factory where he works in Rochester Hills, Michigan. He’s walked the walk ever since his 1988 Honda Accord quit on him more than 10 years ago. His job pays him $10.55 an hour, which he claims is not enough for him to buy his own car, but that may well change after well-wishers managed to raise $38,000 for him in an online campaign in just hours. For now though, whatever the weather, Robertson is there, on the job for his 2-10pm shift.
Tenacious: Ever since his car quit on him a decade ago, James Robertson has walked 21 miles a day to get to and from work, because Detroit buses only cover part of the route – and he doesn’t complain
In the city that made the motor car famous, he is without his own four-wheels and there’s no decent bus service to get him to where he wants to go, either.
‘I set our attendance standard by this man,’ said his boss Todd Wilson to the Detroit Free Press.
Wilson is plant manager at Schain Mold & Engineering. ‘I say, if this man can get here, walking all those miles through snow and rain, well, I’ll tell you, I have people in Pontiac 10 minutes away and they say they can’t get here — bull! He’s never missed. I’ve seen him come in here wringing wet,’ said Wilson, 53.
Robertson claims he powers his marathon-like commutes by drinking two liters of Mountain Dew and countless cans of Coke each day.
‘I sleep a lot on the weekend, yes I do,’ he said, ‘but I can’t imagine not working,’
Although the commute getting into work is grueling, things are worse on the way back as Robertson has to walk the streets alone, in the dark and freezing cold.
None of his co-workers lives anywhere near him, so catching a ride almost never happens.
Faith: ‘I’m not saying I’m a member of some church. But just before I get home, every night, I say, ‘Lord, keep me safe”, Mr Robertson says
His colleagues have been telling him for years to get a car but it appears that Robertson has fallen into a routine that he almost seems to enjoy it.
‘I keep a rhythm in my head,’ he says. ‘I’m not saying I’m a member of some church. But just before I get home, every night, I say, ‘Lord, keep me safe.’
About three-quarters of the way home, he has to catch the very last bus of the night at 1am into downtown Detroit – after that it’s another five mile trek back to the home he shares with his girlfriend.
The walk takes him through some shady neighborhoods including Highland Park and the infamous 8 Mile area.
Robertson says he was mugged once but doesn’t like to talk about the incident.
CONTINUE READING AND SEE THE VIDEO ON PAGE 2