“It might be tough, but my dad used to say, tough times don't last — tough people do." – James Robertson
James, on his 21 mile daily commute on foot
I know we could all use a feel-good story, and I have a doozy for you today.
It comes to us from - of all places – Detroit. As you read James’ story you may begin to understand what once made Detroit a great city; a monument to American enterprise and the “Arsenal of Democracy” before the liberals took it over and tried to “fix” it with government dollars. It’s because people like James used to be the norm here, not an oddity of such note that it’s news worthy.
This is James’ story:
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. Read the whole, amazing story here.
James’ daily commute; notable only because 21 miles of it is covered on foot.
Yes, you read that right, 21 miles a day. And he’s been performing this Sisyphean effort for 10 years, ever since his car died in 2005. In order to get to work on time for his 2:00-10:00 pm shift he has to leave home at 8:00 am. He doesn’t return until early morning the next day – sometimes as late as 4:00 am. He gets by on an average of 2 hours during the work week and “catches up” on the weekend.
More astounding still: James has a perfect attendance record for the entire dozen years he’s been working at Schain Mold & Engineering in Rochester Hills.
James and plant manager Todd Wilson, whose wife fixes dinner for James every night.
Why does he do it?
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.
"I can't imagine not working," he says
How does he do it”
"One word — faith," Robertson 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.' " Robertson adds, "I should've told you there's another thing: determination."
While the reporter who filed James story originally also had an undercurrent storyline running about the lack of mass transit in the “motor city” the only real story here is of one man’s extraordinary work ethic, commitment and perseverance. It is the story of James Robertson, doing what he has to do to keep his job and keep food on the table.
God helps those who help themselves.
The author makes no note of the fact, and probably is to young to know, that this city was once predominantly populated by people just like James, both black and white citizens who were fiercely committed to doing whatever it took. It was that type of mindset that created the modern automotive industry and all of its spin off businesses. It’s the kind of mindset that vanishes when government steps in to do for you what you once were able, and willing, to do for yourself, no matter how hard.
But that’s not the feel-good part of the story. That would be here. On reading James’ story a young Wayne State computer science student decided to set up a crowd funding site to raise enough money for James to get a car and pay the high cost of insurance on it in Detroit, Several others had the same idea; they co-ordinated their efforts. Meanwhile a downriver auto dealer offered to give James his choice of a 2014 Chevrolet Cruz or Sonic. Many others offered used cars, money or rides. As of Monday night, $130,000 had been raised. A vice-president at a local bank, who befriended James after seeing him on his daily trek so often that he finally stopped to see if he could give him a lift, has offered to set up an oversight board to help James manage the donations that are rolling in.
James getting a lift from his friend, UBS banker Blake Pollock.
Most amazing of all: this happy outcome happened without the intervention of one single government agency or service: the Justice Department was not consulted to make sure James’ civil rights were not being violated. The Labor Department was not called upon to demand that James hourly wage be increased. The EPA did not have to order an environmental impact study on James’ new car, nor was Commerce consulted regarding the economic analysis of James’ additional free time. OSHA did not have to issue new regulations for walking to work, and HHS did not show up to perform a mental health assessment on James. Although I am fairly certain that the IRS will be on site shortly to extract their “fair share” of James endowment.
Instead, James story just struck a note in the hearts of middle class Americans in middle America: empathy for a fellow human being who has been doing for a decade what most people could not imagine doing for a day. And they did what good, decent people people have always done; they rallied their resources to assist James. Because often people of good heart are more than willing to help out a fellow human being without the manipulation of social programs or the coercion of monetary reward/punishment. More amazing still to the bureaucrats in Washington, all this good will appears to be without bias; colorblind acts of random kindness taking place in Detroit, one of the most racially segregated cities in the country. That definitely doesn’t fit the current racial profiling template of the Obama administration.
So that’s all, just one little story of an amazing man and an amazing community-of-man that has responded to him. Allow it to lessen the grip that cynicism has had on your heart. America is still the greatest country on earth. Do whatever you can to keep it that way.
All I know for sure is that if Obama had a son, he wouldn’t look anything like James Robertson