If the Shoe Fits ...

By Ants Roosme

June 2016

Since I was 15 years old and saw pictures of the B-52, I wanted to work at Boeing. When I graduated with a degree in aeronautical engineering, I saw a picture of a 727-100 with the setting sun in the background. The big triple-slotted flaps were fully extended, and the stabilizer trimmed almost all the way nose up. To an airplane nut, that was a very "romantic" picture. The best-looking airplane I had ever seen!

My problem was that I lived in Sweden. My luck was a Boeing ad in a Swedish daily in 1966 looking for people. In November 1966, I arrived in Seattle, happy to be in the USA and happy to start working at Boeing. After about 10 years in engineering, where I worked with aero-stability and control, flight control systems, wind tunnel and flight testing, I applied for transfer to Sales & Marketing, where I stayed until retirement in 2006. That was a dream job, just like engineering, but different. To work with all Boeing models and meet with customers was just fantastic. And long hours, when needed.

To get ready for a long business trip to Europe, I got home from the office around 4 a.m., after waiting for the Boeing guard to open the gate at the 10-60 building to let me out. My flight departed at 8 a.m., and I had not yet packed my suitcase. I did not want to wake my wife, because she had a "tough" job also. So I packed my suitcase, took a shower, dressed and drove to Sea-Tac for my flight to Chicago and on to Europe.

When I finally relaxed in my airplane seat, the cabin attendant showed up: Mr. Roosme, what would you like to drink, and by the way, why do you have one brown and one black shoe? So I told her about getting home late, dressing in darkness so as not to wake my wife, etc.

My next flight was a Boeing 767 from Chicago. Once I was seated, the attendant came up: Mr. Roosme, what would you like to drink, and by the way, why do you have one brown and one black shoe? So, again, I told her the story. About four hours into the flight, the captain came out of the cockpit for his rest. Instead of using the single center seat in the 5-abreast layout, he came up to me and asked if he could use the empty seat next to me, and said: By the way, why do you have one brown and one black shoe? The cabin attendant must have notified the captain about a Boeing guy with odd shoes. This captain flew both the 767 and 757. We had the most interesting conversation for the next few hours, and this is only one of the many, many memorable events from my time at Boeing.

Now I'm retired. Many of my best friends are Boeing retirees and airline people whom I worked with years ago. Boeing was always very good to me and put me through business school for my MBA, which was very helpful in Sales & Marketing. The Boeing ad back in 1966 was the best thing that ever happened to me. It gave me an opportunity to immigrate to the USA, the best country on this planet, and work at Boeing, the best company on this planet. For that I'm eternally grateful.