Published January 13, 2014
James had fallen on hard times.
He totaled his car and he was living in a shelter in Atlanta. His wallet was empty. There was no money for a bus, certainly none for a cab. And that posed a significant problem.
James was supposed to report to a court in Lilburn, Ga. to resolve a traffic citation – some 29 miles away.
Failure to appear could have resulted in a warrant for his arrest. So James decided to do what needed to be done -- he would walk.
Now walking nearly 29 miles to resolve a traffic citation is certainly unusual, but walking 29 miles on one of the coldest days of the year is beyond unusual. James awoke at 1 a.m. and walked outside wearing a pair of blue jeans and a hooded jacket.
“I was absolutely freezing,” James told television station WSB. (James told the WSB reporter he is uncomfortable with his circumstances. He chose not to share his last name or show his face on camera.)
It was 6 degrees. The wind chill was minus 10. It was a bone-chilling, blustery kind of cold.
“As soon as the air hit my lungs it took my breath away because of the wind,” he said. “That was the major thing – the wind.”
His nearly nine-hour journey took him from downtown Atlanta across Interstate 85 to the northeastern suburb of Lilburn.
James arrived at the court, shivering and out-of-breath only to discover that his public defender failed to appear. Nevertheless, he settled his business with the court and prepared to make the long trip back to Atlanta.
Police Officer Andy Blimine saw James and felt compelled to help. But James rebuffed his offer. Soon, two other officers showed up and they, too, offered to lend a hand.
“I couldn’t let him walk that far,” Officer Blimine told WSB.
James fought back tears as the officers gave him $80 for cab fare back to Atlanta.
“Thank God for those officers,” he said.
It was a random act of kindness for a man down on his luck -– trying to make right a wrong.
“You could see in the man’s eyes that he was genuinely touched, as I was,” Lt. Chris Dusik told the television station. “I’m truly proud of how Officer Blimine represented the city.”
The mission of the Lilburn Police Department is to preserve the peace and uphold the law. The officers dedicate themselves to serving their community in an “honorable and ethical” manner. I believe the people of Lilburn are well-served by Officer Blimine.
Be kind to one another, the Good Book reminds us. Be tenderhearted. That’s what Officer Andy Blimine did on that harsh winter’s day -- the day he went the extra mile for a stranger.