If you’ve lived through typhoon Ondoy, you’re probably one of those people who now flinch and feel a sudden tightening of the chest when it starts raining in buckets. I get a sickening feeling when it starts raining hard and my daughters aren’t home. Well, actually, I did get sick. Whether it’s from worrying or it was really the flu, I don’t know.
Anyway, the typhoon and recent floods are only a backdrop for this story. Sam and Alex stay in a rented condo during schooldays (you probably know that already) and when the floods started rising last Thursday, that was where they were. The condo is about 25 meters from the school but to cross the distance, well, it means crossing a huge flooded street and the current was strong.
Alex got stuck in school (doing rehearsals because classes were suspended by 3.00 p.m.) and didn’t make it back to the condo until 5.30 a.m. on Friday. One thing I have to say for that school, they’re prepared for emergencies like this. Students who couldn’t go home because of the floods were allowed to stay in the theater with FREE hot food provided by the school.
Sam and two friends, on the other hand, got stuck at a convenience store between the school and the condo. Three hours at the store then two hours to cross the street to the condo amid raging floods. Heck, the stories she told later. The crossing was so slow that they were already swapping stories with the cops at a nearby police detachment. I won’t dramatize the scenario. She was capable, she was safe and that’s all that matters to me. I’m not one of those people who go, “Oh I feel guilty that we’re safe when others are not so lucky.” Guilt? GUILT? That is so over-the-top drama. It’s not like we’re safe at the expense of other people’s misfortunes. I am appreciative of our good fortune (fully aware that preparedness is a HUGE factor), I sympathize with those who aren’t as lucky but guilt does not form part of the emotional equation.
But, anyway… What’s that got to do with learning the value of money? Lots. See, Sam saves a huge chunk of her allowance to buy shoes. That’s her thing — shoes. Sneakers, to be more precise. She has them in different brands, colors, designs… some she even had custom-painted. Shoes and filthy, murky flood water… does a picture form in your mind already?
When Sam was back at the condo (we already knew that Alex was safe, dry and well-fed in school), I asked Sam what happened to her when she and her friends crossed flooded Taft Avenue in Manila. Her first text message was, “Kadiri. Sobrang kadiri (Disgusting. Utterly disgusting).”
And she washed her shoes the moment she got back to the condo. But what about the filthy jeans that were soaked in flood waters too? Ah, those she brought home, unwashed, in a plastic bag. You know, the shoes she bought with her savings, she washed. The jeans that I bought for her, she threw into a plastic bag. She confirmed as much when she got home, “But I bought those shoes with my money!” Hmmm… maybe, I should give her a small allowance increase, stop buying her clothes altogether, make her buy her own clothes with her savings and, maybe, she’ll wash her filthy flood-soaked jeans next time Taft Avenue gets flooded.