The Typhoon

Author Maria Sylvestre

My mom and I were at Home Depot doing some last minute shopping to prep for a coming typhoon (expected to hit the next morning). The store was packed- people were lining up, pushing carts with large pieces of plywood to board their windows- most of the shelves that reached the ceiling were bare. I helped my mom carry some, but I had no idea how we’d fit them in our car (4-door sedan).

While I waited in line, she went and asked someone if we could ride with them in their pickup. She offered to pay for the gas. This man agreed, and he carried our plywood with his in the back of his truck. My mom rode with him back to our place, and I drove my mom’s car back home.

We arrived home. As we carried the plywood to the doorstep, I asked him what was his name. It was Mark. I thought he’d leave right after that, but he offered to drill in the plywood for us. (We don’t have shutters.) My mom left to get some cash from the ATM, so it was just the two of us.

I asked him if he had some thing to do, but he said he could help us. I didn’t own any drill set, so he used his own tools.

It was hot outside, the usual hot and humid weather.

I gave him a large bottle of cold water. I kept wondering why he was helping so much. It was around 4:00pm, it was sweltering heat, and most people were doing last minute preparations for the typhoon. I didn’t know him. So why? He didn’t pry; he only asked what my name was and where I went to school.

As he positioned the plywood, I helped hold the drill and the screws for him. He taught me their names and what sizes he used. He even gave some tips on what to do in case the plywood shifts or breaks, and what to do if the pressure is too strong on one side. We must’ve spent an hour or so outside, him installing and I handing him supplies.

When he was done, I thanked him for everything, for his time, for bringing the plywood to my place, for drilling it into the wall, for teaching me a bit about drill sets. I asked him if I could pay him once my mom arrived, but he just smiled and replied that he didn’t need nor expect payment. “Just pay it forward,” he said. I thanked him again. As he walked back to his car, my mom came just in time. She gave him a gift card- he didn’t accept cash. We thanked him and he left.

I looked at my mom and wondered if Mark was real or an angel.

A week later, while I was at work, I saw Mark. He was lining up ordering food, and I was at the back making orders. I waved, and he saw me. At first, he didn’t recognize me. “I’m Maria,” I said, “You helped my mom and I with the plywood last weekend. How are you? I hope you guys are okay after the typhoon.” I continued.

He smiled, and remembered. He said he and his family were fine after the typhoon, and I told him the plywood held up well. After he got his food, he said “Take care, nice to see you.” And left. After that I knew he was real.

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