When longtime Greyhound employee Ann Meachem started collecting bottles more than two years ago, she thought she was saving money for her retirement party.
However, after the company shut down its routes across B.C. and the Canadian Prairies at the end of October, Meachem ended up using $2,000 she’d saved to organize a farewell weekend for her former colleagues.
Around 150 people — some from as far away as Calgary, Vancouver Island and Prince George — attended the farewell event for former Greyhound employees in Penticton this weekend.
“(It was) a lot of bottle caps, but my motto always was: ‘Greyhound can take our jobs away, but they can’t take our friendships,'” said Meachem.
She feels like the comradery this weekend has proved her motto true.
Meachem worked for the iconic bus line for around three decades, serving as a driver for over 26 years and also working at the ticket counter.
Saying a fond farewell to her former colleagues this weekend is bittersweet.
“Probably (there will) be a lot of these people that we never see again. It is kind of sad to say that today’s the last day, and we will be saying the goodbyes,” Meachem said.
However, she wanted to create a space for them to get together one final time because with bus routes crisscrossing the province, many colleagues would only see each other once in a while and didn’t get to say proper farewells.
“With the company ending the way it was, we needed to be able to see each other again one more time and be able to share some stories and say some goodbyes,” Meachem said.
“There has been so many stories shared, and everybody can’t believe that we had so many people show up.”
Greyhound announced last summer that it would be ending almost all of its bus service in Western Canada for economic reasons.
The business said ridership had dropped more than 40 per cent in Canada since 2010 and that it couldn’t keep operating unsustainable routes.