Friday, April 27, 2007

A new beginning for Anne Budgell

I had a quick email exchange with Anne Budgell this morning, in which I asked her one question. Anne, as you must know by now, is retiring today after 34 years of service with the CBC in Newfoundland and Labrador. As this photo (taken during the last CBC strike, from John Gushue's website) would suggest, Anne has outlasted them all.

But first, a story. I prefaced the question to Anne by telling her about my own experience working in an old building. During the 1970’s, I served as a clerk at the Post Office in Toronto, at the main postal station on Front Street (in what is now the Air Canada Centre).

That grand old building was being phased out, with employees being moved to one of two new “super-buildings” further out in the suburbs. I was transferred to South Central, where they tried to train me on the postal coding machine; to key in the postal code on letters as they zoomed past, as fast as you could type. It was dehumanizing, as was the sterile environment with cameras everywhere. I told management to forget it; to send me back to the old building until it was phased out, at which point I would resign. (I did, and moved back home to Newfoundland, determined to ‘make it’ as a journalist, which is a story for another day.)

So my question to Anne was, did you time your retirement around the closing of the building on a matter of principle?

While her reply was diplomatic, Anne did confirm that the impending move had some influence on her decision about when to retire.

“I have been thinking of retiring for some time and it's been a tough decision since I do enjoy my work and have a lot of freedom to do what I want with this show,” Anne wrote. “Also, working with Paula Gale has been fabulous and there was no guarantee we'd be able to continue to work together. I went up to the other building to have a look at "my" cubicle and I was dreading having to work there. Paula and I have a small office with a door we can close and we close it numerous times a day. It's the only way we can hear ourselves think.”

“I am lucky because I have enough years of service so my pension will provide an adequate income,” Anne continued. “Being financially able to retire, in combination with other factors, like the building closing, it seemed like the time was right. I don't feel like I'm the only one leaving because everyone is packing their stuff and the place is emptying out. I'm going to take a few trips and I've got a book project to work on. Summer is coming and I've got a grin from ear to ear.”

If you read this on Friday morning, be sure to tune in to CBC Radio Noon to catch Anne’s last show. Also, visit the site to see all the neat stuff that has been going on with the show in recent weeks (and have a look at that movie poster, which has Anne’s head superimposed on Halle Berry’s body).

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