PAISLEY, Fla. – It was an average day for Wesley Locke as he drove down County Road 42 in Paisley. Except on August 2, Locke witnessed what he calls an “example of true work ethic” during his commute.
As Locke drove, he passed a young man walking along the road just west of Paisley headed toward Umatilla. Locke noticed the way the man was dressed, wearing black dress pants, a black shirt, and a tie.
“I thought to myself, he looks like he is headed to work but the closest business around there is about five miles away at least,” Locke said.
That is when Locke decided to turn around.
“I made a u-turn, rolled my window down and asked him if he was walking to work. He said yes. I asked where he worked. He said, ‘Burger King, in Eustis.’,” Locke wrote in a post on Facebook. “Well, my jaw about hit the floor of my truck! That is 8.4 miles away from where we were! I said, ‘Are you serious?’…He says, ‘Yeah. I have no choice. Gotta get to work’.”
Locke was amazed by this young man’s work ethic and decided to give him a ride to work. During the ride, the man introduced himself as Mike Aldridge.
Aldridge confessed to Locke that he and his wife who has epilepsy and can’t work had just moved in with his sister and between them, they only had one vehicle.
“Some days Mike drives his sister’s car, some days he can’t. So he walks,” Locke stated.
Aldridge told Locke he had tried using the bus, but it was too inconsistent and Uber was too expensive. Sometimes Aldridge would even walk before and after his shift.
After dropping Aldridge off at the Burger King in Eustis near State Road 44 and State Road 19, Locke decided he wanted to help him out.
That is when he posted his encounter with Aldridge on Facebook.
Locke stated he did not expect too much and was hoping to at least get Aldridge a bicycle, but then the post went viral and everyone wanted to help.
Shortly after, a GoFundMe page was set up with a goal to raise $2,500 to help buy Aldridge a car. Within the first 24 hours, the page had received over $3,300.
But things did not stop there.
Locke contacted a friend of his, Bruce Burr, who is the Service Director for Danny Len Buick GMC in Mount Dora and he wanted to help as well.
The next morning, Burr held a meeting at the dealership and told his team Aldridge’s story.
“It was unanimous. We wanted to do something for this guy,” Burr said.
After speaking with Rodney Len, owner of Danny Len Buick GMC, Burr and his team decided they wanted to donate a car to Aldridge.
“I figured we can help him out with the car and use the money we raised to help pay for the insurance, gas, and other fees,” Burr stated.
After the plan came together, Locke set out to find Aldridge to tell him the good news. Only when he got to the Burger King where he had dropped him off, the employees told him there was nobody named Mike that worked there.
Locke learned that Aldridge worked at the Burger King near Highway 441 and State Road 19 which is even further from Aldridge’s home than the Burger King he had dropped him off at.
“When I dropped him off he didn’t say anything. He apparently went inside, got a drink, and started walking from there,” Locke said.
When Central Florida Wire called Burger King to speak with Aldridge, he was too overwhelmed with all the news to speak.
Aldridge’s General Manager, Latina Doe, told us that lock had just recently started working as a manager at her store and has only been there for less than a month. Doe said that Aldridge is never late and is always there rain or shine.
“I told them [Burger King] they better keep him. People with that kind of dedication and work ethic don’t come around anymore.” Locke told us.
The Danny Len Buick GMC team are still working on getting the vehicle ready for Aldridge and expect to deliver it to him at the beginning of next week.