Detroit man walks 21 miles to work and back each day

James Robertson's work day starts with a stroll through his Detroit neighborhood to a bus stop on Woodward.

Then on to the Detroit Department of Transportation transit center, to a bus stop at Somerset Mall. From there he walks several miles to work to SME Schain Mold in Rochester Hills.

"I can't imagine not working," he said.

The trip home involves even more walking, because there aren't as many buses running at night.

James figures he walks about 20 miles a day, Monday through Friday.

"It doesn't set in until about Wednesday night or Thursday morning," James said. "It takes a pretty good toll on you."

This has been James' routine for the past five or six years since his car died.

A chance meeting with Blake Pollock is starting to change all that. 

"I've noticed James walking up and down Crooks Road quite a bit for months," Pollock said.

Then one day about a year ago, the banker reached out to the factory worker.

"I was like, 'Aren't you the guy I always see walking up and down Crooks Road,'" Pollock said. "I said, 'Maybe one day I'll give you a ride.'

"I guess I met him, but not really."

A short time, later Blake saw James on a snow bank.

"This guy, in a black Cadillac, came up to me and asked if I wanted a ride," James said. "I was like, 'Why not.' That was the start of it all."

They have been riding together off and on, ever since. But those days may soon be over. 

Since reporter Bill Laitner of the Detroit Free Press told their story last week, a reader started a fundraising campaign. 

As of 7 p.m. the online account was at $87,000.

James has been overwhelmed. 

"Somebody shows you love, you accept it," he said. "There's been a lot of love."

Blake said James has also gotten offers of a free car which could be a mixed blessing for their friendship.

"I guess I don't have a friend anymore," Blake said. "Maybe I don't want him to get a car."

But this friendship seems more likely to evolve - than dissolve.

FOX 2: "If you get a car are you going to pick Blake up for work?" 

"I just might," James said. 

James was not at work Monday due to the winter storm, but his perfect attendance record is intact - because most Schain employees have a snow day.

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