Our Pal, Al (Albert Charles)

July 14, 2020 | Volunteer of the Month

You may not know our friend Albert Charles (you can call him Al) because typically he is content to keep his contributions to 826michigan quiet and out of the spotlight. (We’ve certainly never heard him say, “Why am I short of attention?”) Usually the Charles we are raving about here at 826michigan is the other half of this dynamic duo, Robyn (Volunteer of the Month July 2014). And of course we would never pass up the chance to throw some much-deserved shine her way. 

However, it is high time for Al to have his moment of recognition, and his photo opportunity if you will, for all the many ways he has supported our work over the years. Al was introduced first to the strange world of Liberty Street Robot Supply & Repair through his wife Robyn. Robyn has been supporting our work holding down two store shifts a week, designing between seven and thirty-seven chapbooks a year, serving as our unofficial (and actually sometimes official) Assistant Store Manager, and generally making us more organized, systematized, and better looking in countless ways. Al has been rallied to the robot cause and joined Robyn in aiding our work. Al is an engineer, recently retired from GM and he thinks like an engineer. He is able to dig deep into puzzles (like recovering the info from our ruined hard drives) and investigate complex webs (like switching land lines to Google Voice). Not too long ago, Al was visiting Robyn in the Liberty Street Robot Supply & Repair when a question came up in the lab about how to visualize data using spreadsheets. Within moments, Al pulled up a chair and gave the research and evaluation team a tutorial in Excel on the spot. When a technical challenge comes our way, Al rolls up his sleeves and digs in. He has a wide span of attention and he is undaunted!

Our gratitude is soaring especially high for Al and Robyn right now. Every year as part of our annual audit, we have to conduct an inventory of every single item in both the Detroit Robot Factory and LSRS&R. If you have been in either of these stores, you know that we are kind of known for having a ridiculous number of robot gadgets, products, and gizmos, so this is a significant undertaking. Robyn has been helping to coordinate our inventory-taking system for years now. She quickly enlisted Al to help as one of the volunteers conducting the actual count, where they were surrounded by the sound, sound of robots in the marketplace. They are both detail-oriented and systems-thinking folks, making them IDEAL to support these endeavors. When you want to be sure there will be no incidents or accidents, no hints or allegations, may we recommend the Charles Dream Team.

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