James Robertson has been walking 21 miles to commute to work outside Detroit for nearly a decade — until today.
After his story became public last Sunday in the Detroit Free Press, an outpouring of support and donations culminated with Robertson taking the keys to a new Ford Taurus — one that he wasn't expecting to get when he walked into the Suburban Ford dealership in Sterling Heights, Mich., today.
"I don't like it," he told the dealer. "I love it."
Robertson's plight — and his committment to his job despite the hurdles he faced in getting to work — sparked a donation campaign that's raised $300,000 so far. More importantly, it's highlighted the troubles of workers like Robertson have in getting from the Detroit they love to the jobs they need. Already, the city of Detroit has promised to boost a program it has for giving public transit to people like Robertson; it had sat on more than $1 million in federal grants for years without using them until last year.
Several Detroit-area dealers offered Robertson the free use of a vehicle, but he specified a Ford Taurus, telling the Free Press: "It's simple on the outside and strong on the inside – like me."
Upon getting the car and the key, a dealership employee hopped in the passenger seat to help him get re-acclimated to driving (starting with a button now, and such.) Then Robertson left — because despite all the attention, he still had to get to his 2 p.m. factory shift on time, and nothing stops James Robertson.