Going the Distance

By Dorothy Groceman

June 2016

People know me as Dottie. I am the only Boeing St. Louis female employee to have driven a commuting van consistently for 20 years. I started as a rider in 1995 after moving to Sullivan, Mo., a town that's 84 miles (135 kilometers) from work.

When my van driver had a medical issue, I went from rider to driver. I would pick up people in Sullivan, St. Clair, Eureka and a few other towns and deliver them to different buildings at the Boeing St. Louis site. Often driving up to 10 people in my van at a time, I had a variety of professionals -- electricians, machinists, mechanics and engineers -- and over time I delivered them to almost every building at the site, which is made up of five or six miles of different buildings.

I am typically on the road by 4 a.m. and arrive for first shift at 6 a.m. The ride is about 1 1/2 hours each way and traffic is usually light except for large 18-wheeler trucks transporting goods. In a winter blizzard, however, it can take up to three hours to travel the distance.

Commuting with a group is good for the environment, safe and economical. With five to 10 other teammates, there's security as well as camaraderie. I am grateful for my years of van commuting because I’ve met some exceptional people that I never would have known if I hadn't been riding in the van. The experience has given me a wider perspective of what Boeing organizations, other than my own, do every day.