When audio-visual technician Al Bennett first began working at Centennial College’s Warden Woods campus, digital technology didn’t exist and black and white video was just starting to be used in most colleges. Flash-forward almost half a century later, and technology sure isn’t what it used to be.
“Oh, it’s insane if you think about it,” Bennett said, talking about the changes in technology over the years.
Now, at the age of 67, Bennett has decided to call it a career after a 47-year tenure with the college. He could have done so 15 years ago, he said, but he enjoyed his job so much that he knew he wasn’t ready to sign off.
“I figured I loved what I was doing, so I just stayed,” he laughed. “They didn’t want to give me the job in the first place because they thought I was overqualified and wouldn’t stay for long. Guess they were wrong on both counts.”
Bennett has always believed that his job was unlike any other. He cherished the fact that there wasn’t a single day that was the same; every day was different.
“It was almost like a dream job for me. That’s why I stayed,” he said. “I was having so much fun. I was learning new stuff and with that job it was great because with some jobs, it’s always the same thing day after day. I couldn’t do that; it would drive me nuts.”
For the past six years, Bennett had been working at Centennial’s Carlaw Avenue campus in East York. In his early days at the Warden Woods campus, which has since been demolished, he was the drummer in a band. In fact, one of the other technicians he worked with was his base player.
“While we were playing in the band full time, we were also working full time,” Bennett said. “I hadn’t planned on staying that long depending on how the band did.”
Campus Dean Nate Horowitz and Bennett go back a long way. At one point in their careers, the two had something in common. They both worked in the audio-visual department.
“He’s a great guy. I know he’s very proud of the years he’s been here and the contributions he’s made to the college,” Horowitz said.
Upon retiring, Bennett chose to leave quietly without a reception to honour his years of service and dedication to Centennial College. Instead, he requested that donations to be made to the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre in memory of his late wife, who died two years ago of breast cancer, and his brother, who died in 1980 of leukemia.
When asked what he’ll miss most about working at Centennial, Bennett only had one answer in mind.
“People,” he said without hesitating. “You’re seeing people all day, helping them with what they need and seeing the smiles on their faces when you’re done. That was the neat part about the job.”