Among my many terrible qualities – the face, the hair, the personality, the things I say, the stuff I do – I am one of the world’s foremost ditherers. With a combination of anti-materialism, enviro-guilt and a neutral, Might-Do attitude I can turn the simplest of pleasures into the most agonising of ordeals.

And so it was, back in January 2022, you found me hand-wringing about maybe getting an electric car on account of how Covid tried to murder me and made off with my pep, vim and most of my mobility. I did a bunch of maths to figure what I could afford, whether I should buy or lease, and how thoroughly Arnold Clark’s interest would fuck me in the ear. A month later I was still dithering, hiring electric cars by the hour to test life with public charge points, and trying not to feel like a middle class wank for even thinking about putting this much money into a car.

And here I stalled, pulled in three different directions: Getting an electric car to get me mobile again; deciding if I could cope with a non-vegan gearstick if it saved me a few grand; and sticking with public transport because materialism is A Bad Thing and I should never buy anything ever.

In the midst of indecision I found myself on the brink of going back to petrol. I lay awake – literally, on account of what a loser I am – trying to figure what harm I’d be doing with even the weediest of commutes. Even then, even with the puniest of engines, it added up to the equivalent of a domestic flight every ten weeks. And domestic flights can suck it.

After 11 months of dithering, three nights of barely any sleep, and one day of sweating with guilt in a showroom, I finally bought the lovely bugger. Here’s how it’s been:

Public charging, it turns out, is a piece of piss. I went for the biggest, newest, second-hand battery I could afford so I could charge it as infrequently as possible. Thanks to ZapMap I’ve got in the habit of what us evolved types call ‘destination charging’, plugging in on the few occasions I actually go somewhere. Where that doesn’t keep me topped up I’ve started reverse-engineering destination charging, looking for things to do while the car’s powering up somewhere. It’s got me doing big long physio walks around charge points, getting me out around the city and increasing activity like I’m supposed to. It’s got me going to a coffee shop for a bit of writing instead of procrastinating at home. Both have been good for me, and have been enough to keep the car topped up. Three months in, I’ve never had to sit in it for hours while it charges, or leave it for an eight-hour stint and go back for it.

And God damn, do I love this thing. As much as I loved public transport – and, honestly, I did – getting a car has opened up the world for me. It’s been as big a deal as getting my wheelchair back when I was a kid. That got me out of the house, back to the mall, back to the cinema, back to my part-time shitter of a supermarket job. Getting this car has got me back to my office once or twice a week. It’s got me back to the cafe my writers’ group meets in. Even boring-ass chores, like picking up my prescription or taking recycling to the tip, are no longer the centre of my day or a drain on my limited energy.

When I think about the difference this has made to me, the way it’s opened up the world that had closed me out, I realise this blog post isn’t about the environmental benefits of electric cars or the practicality of public chargers. It’s about the social model of disability. It’s about my high school education ending not because I needed a wheelchair but because my school didn’t have wheelchair ramps. It’s about the world at large conspiring with my body to make life harder than it needed to be. It’s the crapness of public transport for disabled people, the demand to fit into office hours or go hungry on benefits, the thousand impracticalities of life in inaccessible cities.

This car has got me back into the world. I shouldn’t have needed it to get there.

Photo credit: The Zero