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Dear Sophia:

I finished my Quest. That is, on Sunday, 11 October 2020, I had used the Uber App in 14 cities/towns in New Zealand.

The rider that completed my Quest is an author – we talked of writing, and I told her that she was the lucky last. We were so animated in fact that I missed her turn and had to retrace my ride backwards toward her destination. I apologised profusely and refunded her fare. She wouldn’t hear of it, and tipped me in the app. Good sort, and a great finish.

Since there were no other nibbles for rides on the Uber app, I decided to celebrate with a nice seafood dinner. It was Sunday so it was quiet in New Plymouth. There were a couple of tables occupied at the restaurant and I sat down and ordered the fish with salad and a nice glass of Savignon Blanc. The manager/owner was personable enough and I enjoyed the meal.

I finished up and left – walking through the silent pedestrian thoroughfare and crossing the street towards my car. A woman came out of the building opposite, clearly looking for someone. The street was otherwise deserted.

The woman, who was maybe in her forties, looked an awful lot like the ladies who were around me growing up in New England. Modest dress, shortish haircut. Her eyes met mine with a sense of recognition. She walked fast out of the building and into the street. We met behind my car. She said in a rush “Are you Irish or Spanish?” “No” I said “American, actually, and Kiwi” She waved her hand impatiently “No, from before” “Oh, yes” I said, “definitely”.

“I’ve been looking for you” she said maintaining eye contact and standing quite close. “This is what I do, today is a very religious day for Jews…”

“Sukkot” I interrupted

“You’re Jewish?” she asked quickly

“No” I said “I just knew that one, it’s a pretty cool holiday”

“Jesus was a Jew” she went on “and he wants me to tell you that he has his eye on you and he is going to talk to you. When you answer say ‘Yes’ out loud”

“Ok, thank you” I said, not sure of a more appropriate answer.

“Jesus is at the top of all the deities” she said. I stayed quiet, unsure of the relative hierarchy of deities.

She asked me if she could say a prayer for me. It wasn’t the first time someone has asked, and I always say yes.

She launched into unfaltering Hebrew. In New Plymouth. I was pretty gobsmacked.

I thanked her again. She thanked me too – “for listening and not running away” I smiled at her and said goodnight. As I got into the car my phone pinged. I drove away, thoughtful. Why would anyone be happy about any sort of god ‘having an eye on you’? Your life is likely to get complicated after something like that.

The next morning I did some more driving around New Plymouth – which was rainy and cold and gross. Finally I went back to the accommodation and started packing up. I remembered the ping from the night before. It was from Bumble, the dating app.

I’d matched with someone named Jesus.

I vaguely remembered swiping right on him months ago. I laughed.

I wrote to him and we agreed to meet after I got back to Auckland. We did and once we started chatting I said “Hey I swiped right on you ages ago, what took so long?”

“Well” he said “I had my eye on you”