By JACOB LOPEZ
Kay: They’re beautiful, aren’t they? Stars. I mean, I never look at them anymore, but they actually are quite, uh…beautiful.
Jay: Uh…Kay, you’re frightening your partner.
Kay: I haven’t been training a partner. I’ve been training a replacement.
Jay: Wait a minute, Kay. I cannot do this job by myself.
“Men in Black”
Much like the megaton announcement Agent Kay (Tommy Lee Jones) dropped on Agent Jay (Will Smith) in the 1997 sci-fi comedy Men in Black, soon-to-be former San Benito News Managing Editor Michael Rodriguez caught me by surprise two weeks ago when he told me and Publisher Ray Quiroga that he’d be moving to another publication.
When they first called me into the office, I thought I’d done something wrong. “Oh man,” I thought, I must have done something to get myself in trouble. Nope. Mike was giving us his two-weeks notice.
My answer at the time probably wasn’t unlike Agent Jay’s. There was a mixture of excitement, fear and nervousness enveloping me — that, or gas.
Truth be told, it caught the whole office off-guard, just as it did the readers and the community of San Benito.
It’s been about a week since he announced publicly that he would be leaving, and it seems that word has quickly gotten around. Just yesterday, Mike and I were walking out of the office for a coffee break. Someone who happened to be driving down Sam Houston shouted out of his window, “Sorry to see you leave, Michael!”
Mike was the face of the San Benito News. He’s been writing for the paper for the past nine years. Now, he’s handing me that torch.
He’s taught me a lot about how news writing works and through him I’ve learned how to be a better reporter.
Over my years freelancing with the News, I’ve become good friends with Mike. Mike would call me to assign a story here or there when needed, and over time, he began trusting me with more stories.
Then, just a few months ago, I became a staff writer at the San Benito News. I figured I’d be working with Mike as my editor, at least for the foreseeable future. Plans change fast, and fate has a funny way of throwing unexpected turns in your direction.
I’m honored that Mike felt comfortable enough to leave the San Benito News in my hands, at least for the time being. He’s told me time and time again, “Man, you’re going to rock it!”
Now I have to make those words true. The San Benito News is seeing some major changes, and I have some big shoes to fill.
Now I know what Drew Carey must have felt like when he had to replace Bob Barker on the Price is Right.
It won’t be easy, but Mike wouldn’t have left if he didn’t think the newspaper would be in good hands.
Sure, some of it was chance. Something came together that worked well for Mike, and I happened to be a staff writer when opportunity approached him.
It is my hope than I can continue serving the community as I take up the reins and sit at the desk where Mike once sat.
It’s a tough job. It’s demanding. It’s definitely a bit scary as I try to live up to those expectations, but it has to be done.
Good luck where you go from here, Mike. Thanks for the opportunity.
Now, let’s do this.