Ah-De & Da-Zi 

Lover's Shadows

阿德和大姊在2017年時,以探親身分來到加拿大。他們的兒子、兒媳婦是雙薪家庭,平時忙於上班,沒有太多時間照顧自己的孩子。因此阿德、大姊來到了多倫多,幫忙照顧孫兒。但沒過多長時間,年輕人覺得老一輩帶孩子的方式不一樣,也不想阿德和大姊花時間在孫兒上了。考量在多倫多生活昂貴,像是房價、地稅、車子保險比起中國,都貴多了。因為身分的關係也無法領老人金,他們兩個老人家決定出去打點工。

阿德和大姊過去二十多年在中國做街上清潔隊,月收大概10,000人民幣。而目前阿德工作四年多的超市,一周六天班,月收也大概2000加幣。沒身分加上年紀大,只能做清潔,工資都不高,一天10個小時也大多不到100塊工資。雖然工資不高,但是他和大姊都覺得出去打點工,排解在異鄉的不熟悉、無聊感,也是挺不錯的。我問他們比起中國,在多倫多哪裡最不適應呀? 阿德指了指路上,這裡都沒人呀! 

在疫情期間,阿德工作的超市很缺人手,請大姊也來幫忙了。過了三個多月,疫情緩和下來後,超市經理突然開始挑剔大姊的工作,說她衛生做不好,直接請了另一個工人代替大姊的崗位。她覺得一個老人家,在疫情高峰時期,為超市貢獻勞力。還有兩個老人家做三個人分量的工作,怎麼突然就被替換了,她覺得很不公平。大姊說自己脾氣就是這樣,遇上不公平的事情一定要說出來。被辭工的那天,她與經理爭執,堅持捍衛自己的權利。

我問阿德他對大姊被無故辭工甚麼想法? 他說在多倫多,人生地不熟的,也只能讓一讓。有一份工作就好,能忍就忍。如果是在中國就不一樣了,他一定會問老闆哪裡沒做好,怎麼改進,就事論事,按照規則做事。阿德說老闆對他很滿意,因為他做事認真、全能,很多東西都會修理。

阿德說自己以前當兵,免疫力不錯。對於疫情的擔憂,在於店裡有些顧客不戴口罩。他認為加拿大這裡的管控不如中國,關了一陣子又開放,案例數當然會上升。中國管得嚴,小區和小區間都無法自由進出,大家的生活更快地回復正常。

前幾個禮拜阿德下班回家,騎單車時被汽車撞,一整個人飛撲在地上。當下一個人也沒有,駕駛肇事逃逸。後來兒子、救護車、警察都來了,幸好沒有嚴重受傷。從這天起,大姊每天會走路二十分鐘,到超市接阿德下班。大姊說,兩個人走在路上,汽車就不敢撞了逃跑。

他們平常在多倫多除了工作,感到很無聊,沒有甚麼事情做。阿德唯一休假的那天,早上醒來後,會躺在床上玩點手機,接著吃東西,過了會又想睡了。大姊說沒工作時,他會在小區裡,和兩三個鄰居走走路。兩個人都覺得在加拿大,老人家生活的真的很沒意思。雖然在中國工作比較累,但是總覺得開心。以後還會來加拿大探親,但因為年紀大了,生活很不方便,會縮短居住在加拿大的時間。未來還會繼續回超市工作。他們覺得有個身分會改變很多的不方便! 阿德最後想和大家說,疫情期間,希望大家在外面做好防護措施。身體是自己的。

In 2017, Ah-De and his wife, Da-Zi arrived in Canada on a visitor’s visa to visit their son and grandchildren. Ah-De’s son and daughter-in-law were often busy at work, so he and his wife offered to help raise the children. However, it wasn’t long before differences in parenting style emerged between the young parents and the older generation, so Ah-De and his wife stopped spending as much time with the children.

Living in Toronto was also expensive; necessities such as housing, property tax, and car insurance cost much more than it did back in China. As visitors, Ah-De and Da-Zi were also unable to receive a pension, so they had decided to search for employment.

In China, Ah-De and Da-Zi worked as street cleaners, earning 10,000RMB a month. In Canada, the supermarket Ah-De has worked at for over four years pays $2000 a month for six days of work a week. Without immigration status allowing them to work in Canada and with their age, they could only find work as cleaners, earning less than $100 a day for ten hours of work. Though the pay wasn’t good, Ah-De and his wife liked working, since they felt it helped them stave off boredom and integrate into this new country. When asked about the biggest adjustment they had to make in Canada, Ah-De gestured to the deserted road and replied that there were never any people on the streets.

During the pandemic, Ah-De referred Da-Zi to a job at the supermarket because they were short-staffed. However, as the pandemic started easing, the manager started criticizing her work. After three months of hard work during the peak of the pandemic, Da-Zi was replaced by another employee.

She felt taken advantage of, as the two of them had worked as hard as three people. Although she disputed her termination with the manager to the best of her ability, nothing came from it. When I asked Ah-De about his thoughts on this, he said this wasn’t a fight they could win. As newcomers without any other options, they had to take what jobs they could get.

Ah-De said that in China, things would be different. He would ensure that there was a legitimate fault and seek to improve on his errors. The manager has been satisfied with his work so far, he added, because he takes his work seriously, and is quite handy.

Though Ah-De believes in the strength of his immune system, which he attributes to his military service, he is concerned about the people who refuse to wear masks inside the store. He feels that China is taking the pandemic much more seriously than Canada is, and constantly locking down and opening up will only lead to an increase in cases. In China, regulations are strict and although people cannot move freely between neighbourhoods, things will return to normal sooner.

A few weeks ago, Ah-De was hit by a car while bicycling home from work in a hit-and-run accident, falling hard onto the ground. In a while, his son, the ambulance, and the police all arrived, and there was fortunately no serious injury. From that day onwards however, Da-Zi started walking twenty minutes to pick him up from the supermarket after work. She feels that a hit-and-run is less likely with a pair of people walking together.

In Toronto, Ah-De and Da-Zi often have little to do outside of work. After waking up on his day off, Ah-De spends time on his cell phone, eats a little food, and goes back to sleep. On Da-Zi’s days off, she sometimes takes walks with neighbours. Both of them feel that seniors lead aimless lives in Canada, and though working in China was tiring, they had always been happy.

They will return to Canada to visit their son and grandchild in the future, but the trips might grow shorter as they grow older. When Ah-De does come back, he intends on continuing to work at the supermarket. He feels that if he became a permanent residence in Canada, things would perhaps be easier. Ah-De hopes everyone will stay healthy and safe during the pandemic. Cherish your body.