My newest community consists of EV chargers, that is, people who are charging (or waiting to charge) their electric vehicles with me. This is a completely new community, as I’ve only experienced it three times; however, those three times have all occurred during the past month. Yesterday (August 11, 2022), it happened during my return trip from the 362nd annual Meeting of the New England Society of Friends (Quakers) at Castleton University, Vermont.
Experience 3: I stopped in Lebanon, NH, at the same location where I had charged when I arrived last Friday. Today, no cars were plugged in; last Friday, I had to wait my turn.
I parked my car, plugged in the charger, then tried to enter my credit card information onto the console, unsuccessfully. A helpful gentleman looked over my shoulder, cautioning me to slow down, because the response was exceptionally slow. This was the first time I’d ever encountered a person who was apparently working there, so I expressed my appreciation for him. I learned that Patrick was servicing the charger that had not been working the previous Friday, while simultaneously talking to someone at the office, letting them know about the slow response at my station.
When my charger finally started to charge, he asked me if I’d like a free charge — of course, I said, “Yes!” He disconnected my charger, then reconnected me to the one he was servicing, in order to check its functionality. It worked, and while I received a free charge, another EV pulled in, this one a new Ford truck. It was a Lightning, a brand new model, in fact, not yet delivered to anyone! Its driver, John, clearly proud of it, welcomed questions. His job was training people about EVs, and he was currently working for Ford. He asked me about my experiences using chargers, wanting to know how his company could make the experience more pleasant.
It was John who suggested that this was actually a new kind of community, us charging our vehicles, sharing tips while we waited. Now, another new car pulled in (a Genesis?,) driven by Bill, who gladly joined our conversation. John commented that there used to be full service gas stations, with attendants who would check the oil and wash your windshield. “How long has it been since those have been around?” I asked, thinking maybe ten years. John said, “About forty years,” causing me to ask his age. “Forty,” he said, “I’ve never seen them.”
Then, Bill reflected on the time of horses and buggies, when there were stops with water troughs and possibly a farrier, to care for the horses’ shoes. I laughed and said, “You don’t look that old!” He confessed to being 85, though appeared younger to me. Our talk evolved to what would make the charging experience more pleasant. It was lovely to imagine possibilities, though it was marvelous to simply enjoy this company on a beautiful day. I stayed after my charging had ended, continuing to chat.
Experience 2: On the Friday before, on my way to Castleton, when I stopped to charge, there were three vehicles charging, with one charger out-of-service, so I had to wait my turn. One of the vehicles was a brand new truck, a Rivian, just a few days old. The people were quite friendly. The only annoyance I noticed was that when one car was fully charged, its owner missing, the next person in line unplugged that car and connected to his own. When the owner returned a few minutes later, she was less than fully friendly. It seems to me that a necessary charging courtesy is to be with your car as it completes its charge.
While we were there, another new truck pulled in, not needing a charge, just wanting to check out the situation. This definitely feels like a community, even though all we have in common is electric vehicles. We span a variety of ages, genders, and vehicles.
Experience 1: Just a few weeks ago, my husband and I had planned a trip to western Massachusetts, to the Berkshires, for a Tanglewood concert. The day before, we’d had an argument, Paul wanting to take his (non-EV) truck, and me, of course, wanting to take my electric Mini Cooper. He doesn’t like the uncertainty of charging, while I consider it as a bit of an adventure. He conceded and we charged once, uneventfully, then stopped again in Lee, twenty minutes away from our destination. The charging station had two chargers, both in use, and two cars before us, waiting. I appreciated the friendly demeanor of everyone involved and the clarity of who was next, although we knew we’d be late for the concert.
It wasn’t long before another car pulled in, then a new Rivian truck. We continued following the etiquette that had been established and chatted amiably. One woman, Ann, and I immediately recognized a connection. We were both part of 350 Mass, a climate protest group, though in different subgroups. We shared some friends in common, notably Judith Black, and had a delightful conversation. Paul and Ann’s friend, Tony, a civically conscious Watertown city counselor, got along well, too, and our waiting went quickly and pleasantly.
By the time we completed charging, the concert would have been half over. We decided not to continue driving and then be forced into the exiting traffic. So, feeling very satisfied with the conversations we’d enjoyed, we just turned around and traveled home. Paul didn’t even complain, but who knows what will happen the next time we decide to take a little road trip?!
P.S. Clearly, the many people currently taking delivery of EVs, some ordered many months ago, has affected the number of us needing to charge while traveling. The number of charging stations will soon catch up. In the meantime, I’ll enjoy this new community!
For the curious, each charge was less than $5.00, except one that was $14. Each location and electricity vendor set their own rate. A round trip of about 300 miles cost less than $20 in ‘fuel’ (electricity.) In contrast, for a gasoline-powered vehicle getting 30 miles per gallon, if the price were $4.00 per gallon, the gasoline cost would be about $40. Note that my EV does not require routine oil changes; additionally, mufflers and exhaust systems never need replacement, because they don’t exist. Do I love my EV? Yes!