A week after he was unceremoniously laid off by The Sun while covering an O’s game, David Steele speaks his piece in “How the Baltimore Sun Fired Me.”
My editor greeted me, paused, took a deep breath. “David, I’m sorry you have to be told this way …”
I actually doubled over. It wasn’t a sharp pain, and it wasn’t like I was about to get sick. It was more like a knot in my stomach. I know I said, “Aw, shit,’’ but I don’t know how loud I said it, apparently not loudly enough for my editor to take note of it. The rest is a little fuzzy, something about just now getting the list and the union and not wanting me to hear it from someone else and getting paid through the end of May and severance and human resources and return your possessions to us and thank you for your hard work and professionalism and blah blah blah.
For some reason, I stuck with it, moved around some more, worked my way up to columnist, then made it to the paper less than an hour up the road from where I grew up, the paper I felt I knew all about even if I didn’t see it every day, the paper I knew so many people at long before I ever started working there. A paper that got into huge trouble soon after I got there – and by “got into huge trouble,’’ I mean, “was bought by a so-called financial wizard who deserves to spend the rest of his life in jail’’ – but one I felt more attached to than any other one I’d been at.
And just like that, I was unattached, by phone, while on an assignment.
The next couple of hours were a flurry of shocked expressions and reactions, condolences, bitterness and dread, plus lots of phone calls to family members and friends whom, ironically, I didn’t want to hear the news from someone else. Rick – who is roughly the age I was when the National sank – looked as if someone had drained all the blood from his body.
The overriding theme from all concerned: “They couldn’t tell you to your face?’’