Sky Guy keeps smiling for 1.2 million kilometres
Nothing brings Michael Robertson more joy than getting on SkyTrain and going to work.
And then doing it again. And again. And again.
In fact, Robertson rides the SkyTrain from New Westminster to downtown Vancouver and back three times a day, five days a week. That’s in addition to the rides on the rails he takes to and from his home in Surrey to the offices of Dye and Durham, where he’s the legal service company’s transit courier, running documents between its locations in New West and Vancouver.
Robertson has been Dye and Durham’s “Sky Guy” (as his business card says) for 25 years. Taking into account holidays and sick days, that adds up to almost 56,000 trips along the 21.5 kilometres of elevated guideway between the Columbia Station in New West and the Burrard Station in Vancouver (he uses the New Westminster Station for return trips as the climb up the hill to his office on Royal Avenue is less arduous). That’s more than 1.2 million kilometres.
“I love my job,” says Robertson, 45. “I know every bump and cranny in the stations.”
He also knows to get on the second car of a train for his westbound trips, and the last car for his eastbound trips because it’s easier and quicker to get out of the station at his destination.
Robertson’s feat hasn’t gone unnoticed.
Over the years he’s befriended almost everyone who works the Expo Line, and TransLink includes him in special events and announcements like the unveiling of new cars. When he attained his 16th year of riding the rails, his employer honoured him with an employee recognition plaque.
“We couldn’t have a better emissary for our company,” says Robertson’s boss, Clive Bellian. “He’s one of our competitive advantages.”
That’s because Robertson takes as much care doing his job as he takes pleasure from it. His runs are timed to coordinate with drivers that ferry legal documents to Dye and Durham’s clients in other communities.
“Everyone can set his clock by him,” says Bellian.
“I’m a man on a mission,” says Robertson.
That resolve serves him well when weather or mechanical problems bog down the system. If the issues are between New West and the Broadway station, he’ll catch the Millennium Line. But if they’re more widespread, Dye and Durham will work out an alternate plan.
Much like a famous YouTube video that was circulating a while ago that showed a split-screen view out of the front of a SkyTrain car as it traveled between Vancouver and New West the year it opened and today, Robertson has seen the area grow up.
He witnessed Metrotown evolve into a shopping megalopolis. He saw the first shovels of earth moved at the site that would become Rogers Arena. He’s seen condo and office towers rise from empty lots.
He’s endured storms, crowds, even a drunk whose false teeth skittered across the floor of a train. But because Robertson was representing his employer, he didn’t feel he could burst out laughing about it until he was safely back in the office.
While commuters endure the time they spend on transit, Robertson can’t get the smile off his face.
“It’s like my home. I haven’t had a really bad day in a long time.”