A resident of Penticton, BC shares his story after walking more than 10 hours to work.
Last Monday, Matthew Macdonald made a routine bus trip to Kelowna to visit his grandchildren.
Highway 97 was closed later that day following a rockslide, which prevented MacDonald from taking the bus home. Instead, he walked back to Penticton from Kelowna.
“Every two weeks I go to Kelowna to see my grandchildren. I take the bus, number seven, to get there,” Macdonald said.
“I was struggling to find a way to get home. I was asking BC Transit to see how to get home. They had no choice but to wait a few days, but I couldn’t, I had my job. I just decided at lunchtime to start walking.
The head gardener is one of Penticton Lakeside Resort’s longest-serving employees and said he didn’t want to miss more than a day of work.
Macdonald was in good spirits a week later, even though he had traveled the whole trip in flip-flops and encountered a few bumps along the way.
“It was a last resort,” Macdonald said.
“I can’t miss work. I like the company; I like the people here. I missed a day; I won’t miss two in a row.
Brannigan Mosses, manager of the Penticton Lakeside Resort, said it was no surprise Macdonald went to great lengths to show up for work.
“Surreal for a split second until I realized who I was talking to. Matthew is just totally loyal in every way possible, including walking from Kelowna to Penticton to work because he didn’t want to miss two days,” Mosses said.
“It was really interesting to hear how this trip went through all the details he added, from being prevented from crossing the slide itself and being diverted to the waterline and discovering all kinds of wild animals, snakes, he said there were a lot of snakes and bare skates.
According to Mossess, the tourism sector has been hit hard by a recent travel ban and now by a landslide.
The Penticton Lakeside Resort went from about 75 to 90 percent occupancy to 5 to 17 percent in just one week.
“When you have a team like that, despite all the difficulties, ups and downs that we have been through over the last few weeks, it really warms your heart and just knowing that there is a mentality of team where culture is paramount, especially during these times,” Mosses said.
“I’m grateful to have a team that has this mentality that they will walk day and night to get to their place of work.”
According to the general manager, plans are underway to buy Macdonald a new pair of running shoes.
When asked if Macdonald had ever made the trip on foot, he replied:
“Oh, damn it, no, no. I love taking the bus and there’s nothing wrong with BC public transit, they just couldn’t get me home,” Macdonald said.
Meanwhile, there’s still no timeline for when Highway 97 will reopen. But for now, travelers are advised to use nearby highways or logging roads to get around.
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