"Do you believe in God?"

It's not a topic I'm particularly eager to get into with my customers, even in the most convivial moments. The present circumstances are decidedly not festive—I picked the woman up at the Shell station near the Rose Garden, sobbing and stranded in the pouring rain. She's just now settled down enough to tell me about how her boyfriend roughed her up at the Winter Hawks game.

So I tell her "yes," which is, of course, what she wants to hear.

Have I accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior?

"Um, no." Which is, of course, not what she wants to hear.

We're still a good 25 minutes away from her friend's house in Damascus. So

I quickly launch into a preemptive spiel about alcoholism, a belief in something a little bit like the Judeo-Christian God, but not really, but I still have a relationship with it, etc.

And it's striking to realize that I really believe what I'm saying, and more striking still when she responds with a slightly confused "that's cool," and lets it go. She's a big Jesus fan, but she's also got a year clean from meth, and we talk about that instead—sobriety, our talents for getting into poisonous relationships, and how to let go of them.

I don't charge for the trip, and she gives me a tearful hug when we get there. Her friend does the same, and presses 80 dollars into my palm.