Would you walk 21 miles in James Robertson’s shoes?

by Good Sign on February 7, 2015

Screenshot 2015-02-07 at 11.22.19 AM

By Kevin Alan Lamb

When I tell people that GOOD Magazine rated Detroit the 17th most inspiring city in the world, I think they mostly just dismiss it, and me. In a laundry list of reasons that made it necessary for me to leave home, telling the great story of the rise of Detroit, is one of them.

When I tell people that I’m from Detroit, they are a little shocked, and quickly point out Michigan’s tendency for snow and inclement weather. Michigan winter is a beast of a creature, and part of the reason I am the man I am, today. It instills the necessity of attaining, and keeping warmth. It forces you to face the man or woman you are, and decide if who you are today, will be enough tomorrow.

Detroit resident James Robertson, 56, has no illusions of the man he is, or isn’t. While children are crossing their fingers hoping for a snow day, Robertson is preparing to walk his usual 21 mile, round trip commute.

“By the time Friday comes, your mentally and physically drained. You’re feeling down and out, and you have to pull something extra out of you,” Robertson says.

In a city made infamous by headline news, it is the prevailing spirit of the people of Detroit that fuel its pulsating heart. Its identity will not be portrayed by politicians, criminals, or corporations. To understand our great city, you must embrace the power of its people.

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“I can survive any situation you throw at me,” Robertson says. “They say where there’s a will, there’s a way. That’s something I’ll never forget.”

After a long day at his factory job in Rochester Hills, he tries to get home, throw his clothes off, get into bed and fall asleep, because there’s not much time before he has to do it all again. Monday through Friday, Robertson works on little more than two hours sleep.

“I figured even if my situation changes, you never forget that there are so many other people in my situation.”

After learning of Robertson’s story in the Detroit Free Press, a Sterling Heights dealership donated a 2015 Red Ford Taurus. He had been riding the bus from Detroit to a stop near Somerset Collections in Troy, then walked more than seven miles to work and a little more than 13 miles back home in the dark — for 10 years. When his Honda died on him, his $10.55 an hour wage could not cover Detroit’s outrageous insurance rates to replace it.

“I’ve said this before – no one can say I didn’t pay my dues in life, no one.”

Robertson will be featured as the ABC Person of the Week on ABC’s World News. Wayne State student Evan Leedy launched a Go Fund Me campaign to help Robertson’s cause. They raised over $300,000.

Believe there is GOOD in Detroit. Be the GOOD in Detroit.

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