Pride, Paycheck and a Plumber for Life

By Judi Shea

October 2016

I worked for Boeing for 20 years. I worked in graphite, Kevlar and fiberglass lay-up, as well as maintenance. I was a maintenance utility man -- I am female but that was my title. I assisted every craft from electricians to plumbers. I LOVED every minute of my job.

When I started there, people smoked at their work stations, clocked-in in the morning and out in the afternoon. There were no ethics training classes, and some of the drawers of the upper management had refreshments that are no longer allowed. Things changed drastically over the 20 years I was there. Mostly for the better. People had a family at home, but we also had a family at work. We cared about each other. We cared about the quality of work we were putting out. When we stamped a job with our number and our last name, it was because we were confident it was correct and in spec. I had pride in my work and that of those around me.

The best thing I took away from working there was a 6'4" brown-eyed plumber. I had my eye on him for 10 years before I asked him out for a coffee after work. His answer was, "I'm leaving for a two-week trip to Mexico tomorrow -- aren't you married?"

"No," I said, "I'm not, and I don't want to get married. I'm just looking for someone to spend the rest of my days with, no strings attached."

We have been together for 17 years now. Boeing was good to me and they gave me their finest. The pay wasn't bad either.