When the news hits too close to home

I was chatting with Daily Globe photoguy Brian Korthals late Thursday afternoon when co-worker Kari Lucin walked up, shoved a couple of papers in my hand and said, “Read it.”

I paid the papers no mind and continued talking with BK about GPS systems in combines.
Then Kari grew more adamant … “Read it,” she said again.

It wasn’t until I read down to the third paragraph that I fully grasped the information thrust into my hands.

I think my first words were, “Oh my God … my brother is losing his job.”

My oldest brother has worked at Farley’s and Sathers, under its assorted name changes, since he was in high school. For 26 years he’s gone to work day after day in the company’s packaging facility.

And yet, when I grabbed for the phone at work, my first call was to Mom and Dad.

My second call was to the public relations contact at Farley’s & Sathers, and the third call was finally to my brother Kevin … the one who constantly comes to my rescue when I have a leaky pipe, an exploded water heater and a sidewalk that is literally breaking apart.

To be honest, I didn’t know what to say to Kevin when I called him. I still don’t.

What do you say to someone who has given his life to a company for 26 years and, in an instant, finds that life turned upside down?

I must say, Kevin seemed to take the news a whole lot better than I would.

“What can you do?” he asked.

Get angry, scream and holler, kick something, punch something … I don’t know. That’s what I might do. And then I would break down and cry.

As a reporter, I didn’t have time to do any of that. I called Michelle Graber and asked question after question … all the while feeling like someone had sucker-punched me.

The call to my brother was a little less professional. It was a call out of concern.

Still, I couldn’t resist typing in a couple of notes … until he heard the click-clack of my keyboard and quickly told me that anything he said was not for print.

There’s a fine line between telling your sister something and telling a reporter something. I will not cross that line when it comes to my family or my friends, and thankfully I found a source that was willing to talk “on the record” about losing his job.

If I’d had more time, I would have wanted to talk to more employees … those who have been there for 10, 20 or 30 years or more. I can’t imagine what’s going through their minds right now.

As it is, my brother will continue to work in his job at Farley’s & Sathers until “sometime between Jan. 4 and Jan. 18.”

My parents will suddenly notice the Jujyfruits, Rain-blo and Now & Later trailers are no longer passing by their farm when the first quarter of 2010 comes to an end.

As for me, well, I will never forget my first – and only – assembly-line job. Those paychecks from Sathers during the summer of 1993 helped fund my final year of college at SDSU.

Oh, how I feared getting my fingers caught in the hot sealer machine … or not keeping up with the circus peanuts on the manual bagging line. I figured anything I did wrong on the night shift would inevitably be reported back to my brother on the day shift.

And, well, you know how brothers can be!

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