Neither of us had ever picked up a hitchhiker so in my head I was thinking just act normal, there's nothing weird about this. So that's what we did, and started making small talk. How often did she hitchhike? Very often, she loved it, loved meeting nice people, and so on and so forth.
But it wasn't long before Charlie got involved, he was fascinated by this stranger on the back seat and was determined not to ignore the burning questions so he went straight for the jugular.
"Why's that woman got a sign?" He said, pointing at her sign.
"It's a sign for Bristol."
"Why you got that?"
"It's so that when someone sees it and they want to give me a lift they can stop and pick me up."
"Stop and pick me up," He whispered under his breath. That's what he does when computing complex equations or things adults say. It's his way of learning, whispering the last few words of a sentence.
"Are you a woman?"
"Yes, I am," Was the response. And the interrogation went a bit like that.
We found out she was very spiritual and believed in absolute kindness and good being something that will defeat any evil. She lived in Glastonbury and was part of a spiritual group called the Cathars, and she thinks there are only 110 of them in the world. I found out that the closest religion to theirs was Buddhism.
But naturally, the boy in the back kept interrupting. He couldn't help himself!
"What's that woman gonna do when we get to Bristol?"
"I don't know. I haven't really got a plan." She said.
The two were extremely interested in each other and he took great pleasure in learning an important new word, hitchhiker. She told him a story about how she hadn't realised her sign was upside down once, so people must have wondered where Lotsirb was.
Meanwhile, she was looking at him with adoration like he was the human embodiment of everything she believed in, spiritually. Innocence, goodness and purity. He had the whole package that day, confidently identifying a New Holland tractor one minute and singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star in his sweetest voice the next.
We weren't sure what to do when we got to Bristol, as she didn't know who she would meet, where she would go, or what she would do. What are you supposed to do with that info, as a taxi driver?
In the end I suggested maybe Charlie should decide where we dropped her off and she agreed that would be a good idea.
"Let's drop the lady off at the zoo, and then we will go and see the animals."
So that's what happened. We waved goodbye and wished each other a merry Christmas while this lovely lady wandered off to I-don't-know-where.
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