“This was the call I’d been anticipating for ten years. I was about to be fired.”

From Ruth Reichl’s book, Save Me the Plums, about leaving the New York Times in 1999 to become editor of Gourmet magazine. In this short excerpt she describes how in 2009 she learned that the magazine, which began publishing in 1941, was being closed by Si Newhouse.

The interview had just begun when my phone began to ring. Tom Wallace’s number floated onto my screen.

“Yes?” In my current mood, I expected more good news. Even when Tom said I was wanted in New York, I didn’t get it.

“I have to be in Portland tomorrow, promoting the cookbook.” Tom’s tone had turned ominous. “Be in the office tomorrow.”

It finally dawned on me that this was the call I’d been anticipating for ten years: I was about to be fired. To my surprise there was no panic, only sadness. . . .

I took the red-eye to New York, sitting up all night, but when I got to the office Robin was looking even more ragged than I felt. “They want us all in the conference room at ten,” she said.

“All of us?” I was stunned. I could hardly believe that Si was going to turn this into a public spectacle, fire me in front of my own staff. It did not seem like him; he was not a cruel man.

We filed in grimly and stood silently watching as Si strolled in among us. He was brief. “After long deliberation, we have decided to close Gourmet.

We looked at one another, uncomprehending. Close Gourmet? Surely we’d misunderstood. They could fire us all. Take the magazine in a new direction. But they could not shut down such a revered institution. A world without Gourmet was unimaginable.

“It’s very sad,” Si added. . . .”Your key cards will work today,” he continued. “And tomorrow. Until five p.m.”

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