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Capping an Era : Out of work: As the Stroh brewery closes, three laid-off employees share their plans and hopes for a more stable future. : Ray Seufferlein: 43-year-old machinist : Ray Seufferlein said the layoffs may be a blessing in disguise. He hopes to find a new life, to avoid the physical labor that has been his steady companion since he graduated from high school. He would like to find an administrative job, maybe with Los Angeles County.

February 22, 1990|MICHAEL ARKUSH | TIMES STAFF WRITER

"I don't like to admit it, but I do worry that I won't find a job. Maybe it's the macho image. On the surface, I tell myself, 'Hey, you're skilled. You're good. You can do what you can do, and you'll find work.' But I know I won't find work paying the money I'm getting right now. It's not embarrassing. But it does create tension on my side. My wife handles it very well, but I think, 'Here I am, supposed to be the supporter of the family, and make the most money, and now I'm going to be without work.' Within the last few months, I've been a little more short-tempered, a little more edgy.

"I get very angry when I think about having to go pound pavement at 43 years old. That really upsets me. I think, how could that happen to me? Maybe the blame lies in my own house. I could have stayed in school, gotten a better education, a better job. I went for the easy money. It was there. I went for it. I was 20 years old, and cars, houses, toys became available to me. I'm a toy freak. Big toys, little toys. Motor homes, boats, or remote-controlled cars. Playthings.

"In our end of the operation, it's feast or famine. You're so busy you can't see, or else there's really not a lot going on. If there are no line changeovers and nothing breaks down, things are pretty smooth. All it takes is one major crash on the line, and you're up to your butt in alligators. You never know when it's coming. My particular job in this plant has been kind of hard on the body. I carry around 50 pounds of tools all the time.

"I figured it would go on; I mean, this place is an institution in the Valley. It's always been here, and I thought it always would be. You start on the road here, and the longer you go, the deeper the road gets, and the paychecks keep coming, and then the road is over your head and it's very hard to get out. It's too easy. You don't want to go out and look somewhere else. Had a guy retire here after working 30 years, and I thought to myself, 'I don't want to be here after 30 years. Do I have to crawl in that damn pasteurizer for another 30 years? I don't want to do that.

"And now I get my wish. If I could get into maintenance as a supervisor, I wouldn't mind staying in machining. If I have to carry tools again, I have to. I'd rather not. To be real honest, I haven't given it a lot of thought to what else I'm going to do. I'm through with breweries. I don't want to work off-shifts any longer.

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