Two Megaphone vendors on very different pandemic experiences

Interviews by Paula Carlson, Megaphone

Teresa Ng

Teresa Ng has been a Megaphone vendor for around eight years and usually sells the magazine from her pitch near East Hastings and Nanaimo Streets in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver. She has kept herself busy during the pandemic but has been distressed by the racial abuse she has suffered as a result of her ethnicity. She is looking forward to returning to her work as a vendor.

I am originally from Hong Kong, where I went to two Christian school. I completed kindergarten in Hong Kong. I also completed the first semester of Grade 6 in a Christian elementary school. Eventually, my family and I came to live in B.C.

I go out for walks every morning from Monday to Friday. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, my two churches are not open for worship nights. I have attended churches since 1976 and only stopped in March when COVID-19 appeared. When the virus disappears, I will go back to church again.

To keep busy, I write in my journal, cook, clean up, and study my books at home. I enjoy cooking and eating rice, vegetables, and fish.

I am not having any problems with the pandemic, except sometimes when people are mean to me.

Teresa Ng [Credit: Paula Carlson]

My cousins and other relatives are Chinese, but they were born in Canada, completed university, and speak perfect English. A lot of Chinese people were born in Canada, but I think a lot of people are being mean to people of Asian heritage and blaming them for the virus.

I do not like it when people are mean to me. Someone in my building called me “dragon”, “snake”, or “China” whenever he saw me. On the stairway, he would be two inches away from me, even though it is time for social distancing. In the hallway, he tried to come too close to me again and he followed me one night. When I was riding my bicycle, another white man coughed at me and spit at my face.

I have stayed home most of the time during the pandemic. I would like to work hard to sell Megaphone magazines to make money to give offerings to the church and support people who work in the office.

I recently got a camera from Megaphone to take pictures for the annual Hope in Shadows photo contest. I have tried my best to take really good pictures.

Dennis Chernyk

Dennis Chernyk has been a Megaphone vendor for nearly two years and his pitch is near West Hastings and Granville Streets. In addition to his work with Megaphone, Dennis enjoys writing, drawing, gardening, cooking, and spending time with his black short-haired cat Co-co. But, as Dennis tells us, not everyone is as enamoured with cats as he is.

My place has good things about it, but it’s not paradise. Some of the people, probably most of them, have issues.

For example, there’s a guy on the second floor who seems to hate animals. I recently got a cat, Co-co, and I let him out on the second floor so he could get some exercise plus some socializing with other cats because there are at least six to eight cats on that floor. And guess what? This guy told me that if my cat sneaks into his apartment again, he’s going to put him in a box, tape it shut, and then throw it out on the street.

Dennis Chernyk [Credit: Paula Carlson]

I hope if he tries that my cat scratches him.

I don’t understand people who hate animals. I happen to love cats, especially in the city.

Although this cat-hater continues to live on the second floor, I just continue to let Co-co go to the second floor, because there is a courtyard there. That serves two purposes: One is to have my cat play with the other cats and for him to get his exercise. Cats are mostly solitary animals, but it is positive for him to get some socialization as well. And two: this way I can leave him there for a few hours so I can go to work or do other things that need to get done.

I have another friend who lives on the fourth floor. This friend also had a talk with the cat-hater. The cat-hater had the nerve to also tell my friend that if Co-co comes into his room again, he’s going to put him in a box, tape it shut, and then throw it on the street.

Dennis's cat Co-co [Illustration by Dennis Chernyk]

My friend — who is twice the cat-hater’s size — explained to him that if he does that, he’s going to put the cat-hater in a box, nail it shut, and throw it in a hole!

I was amazed he would say that. But the cat-hater got the message and learned his lesson. Hopefully.

Meanwhile, my cat and I are living happily ever after.