Garyville’s Martin England starts daily commute to LaPlace Popeyes with early morning walk

Published 12:20 am Saturday, May 26, 2018

LAPLACE — Patrol Deputy Gilberto Castellanos was new to the St. John Sheriff’s Office when he noticed a man walking the dark and deserted streets of Garyville at 2 a.m., wearing a brightly colored reflective vest.

Nine years ago, Castellanos learned early morning walks were a weekday routine for Garyville native Martin England, an employee of the LaPlace Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen on Airline Highway.

England explained that he worked the breakfast shift, beginning at 4 a.m.

For the past 30 years, England has showed up to work diligently despite a lack of reliable transportation.

Just as Castellanos offered him a ride the morning they met, other St. John the Baptist Parish residents with early commutes have become well acquainted with England, often volunteering to drop him off at Popeyes.

Martin England has worked at Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen on Airline Highway in LaPlace for 30 years.

Each morning, England wakes up, says his prayers, straps on his reflective vest and starts his commute. It sometimes only takes 10 to 15 minutes for friends to pull aside and open their doors, according to England.

“I try to encourage and bless whoever helps me,” England said. “They’re people just like me, just trying to make it in this world.”

Castellanos sees England every couple of months, whenever his job brings him to Reserve or Garyville.

According to Castellanos, England sets a strong example through his optimistic outlook, remaining kind and steadfast without relying on what most take for granted.

“After so many years of talking to him, I’ve noticed he’s always had a good, positive attitude, talking about God and how blessed he is to have a job,” Castellanos said.

“He’s always blessing us for the job we do at the Sheriff’s Office. I thought it was a good attitude for somebody who has to get up at 2 in the morning to start walking to work and a really nice story to share with people. Sometimes we complain about certain things without realizing we have it easier than others who do without.”

Driven by unwavering faith in God, England believes work should be a necessity in every man’s life.

After graduating from East St. John High School in 1982, England worked in maintenance. Once he received the call to join the Popeyes team in the late 1980s, he jumped at the opportunity.

England said Popeyes has been steady and rewarding. When he gets off after 1 p.m., he travels back to Garyville, typically arriving home around 3:15 p.m.

“I always wanted to work because I believe that’s what a man is supposed to do based on the Bible,” England said. “If you’re not working, you end up stealing and find yourself on the other side of the law. I’m a child of God, and that’s always my No. 1.”

England said he’s cool, calm and collected in his work, and he’ll keep commuting until the day he is able to retire.