James Robertson has a perfect attendance record working at an injection molder in suburban Detroit. An impressive feat, made more so by this detail: to get there, the 56-year-old Detroit resident walks 21 miles a day.
You read that right. With no car and limited bus service in the area, Robertson makes much of the 46-mile round-trip journey on foot.
A recent Detroit Free Press profile of Robertson caught the attention of media around the world and spurred an outpouring of support. Local dealerships have offered Robertson his pick of new cars, while a GoFundMe crowdfunding campaign created by a local college student raised more than $200,000, well exceeding the original goal of $5000 and enough to supply Robertson with much more than a new ride.
Robertson, 56, is a machine operator at Schain Mold & Engineering in Rochester Hills, Mich., about 23 miles away from his home in Detroit. He reportedly earns $10.55 an hour, not enough to replace the car that quit on him ten years ago. So five days a week, he sets out at 8 a.m. to make his 2 p.m.-to-10 p.m. shift, riding a bus partway and walking the rest. He usually returns home around 4 a.m., with only time for a couple hours of sleep before doing it all over again. But he's never missed a shift.
"I set our attendance standard by this man," Todd Wilson, plant manager at Schain Mold & Engineering, told the Free Press.
Though the donations are enough to buy him the latest supercar, Robertson told the Free Press he has his eye on something more conservative.
"I'm a Ford fan,” he said. “I remember the Taurus. They look comfortable, nothing fancy. They're simple on the outside, strong on the inside — like me."
Schain Mold is an injection mold toolmaker and parts manufacturer established in 1986.