Unlike many things I discuss, this story will be a riveting tale. I promise. Either that or it is a tale about riveting. I am not sure which.

Elinor Otto works at the Boeing plant in Long Beach, CA, where she spends her day installing rivets into C-17 Cargo planes. A long time worker at the plant, she has seen her share of changes. For instance, the planes have moved up a full letter grade since she started working there. They used to be B-17’s. As in B-17 Flying Fortress, of World War II fame. When she started she was making .65 cents per hour. Today she makes $40 an hour. You see, Elinor started working at Boeing in 1942. She was one of the original “Rosie the Riveters”, an army of women who answered the call and went into the factory to support the war effort. She never left.

She is 93 years old. She has been making planes for over 70 years.

I would be pooped if that were me.

It is incredible, when you think about it. In a time when most 93 year olds can't even drive, she gets up at 4AM to drive herself to work. And work isn't any cushy desk job. She is standing on an assembly line operating a rivet gun. Can anyone say repetitive stress? Not on your life. Not for Elinor.

I loved the comment by her boss, who, in relation to getting old sometimes thinks to himself, “Why am I slowing up? Why am I home?’ I think that Elinor is at work. And Elinor is 93!”

It has to be difficult to call in sick, or to file an injury claim with a 93 year old woman on your production line. Strain your back? Hurt your knee? Have a boo-boo? No problem. “We'll have Elinor do your job. You go relax.” Yeah, that'll work.

If you happen to find yourself riding in a C-17, there may be some interesting clues as to whether Elinor built that particular aircraft. For one, the left blinker will not turn off. Another is the plane generally has to land before dark, and if it does fly overnight, it has to land periodically to empty its lavatory tanks. The auto-pilot won't work, as it continually forgets where it is going. Its landing gear won't go up without medication or significant assistance. If the engine sputters, the fuel leaks a little.

And in the winter, it only flies to Florida; and taxis at a crawl, blocking all the other airplanes.

Seriously though, Elinor Otto is a remarkable woman who should serve as an inspiration to people everywhere. Imagine the dedication and passion for work that it must take to persevere for so long. It is truly a remarkable story.

In fact, it is absolutely riveting.

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