As scheduled, I collected my first electric vehicle, or EV, on 5 August 2021 in Kowloon Bay. It was not exactly a fine day. First it drizzled, then it poured and thunder stormed, but fortuitously, by the time we left Kowloon Bay, it cleared up. Will, the Sales Consultant who sold me the car, had asked me to allow at least an hour to enable him to brief me how the new machine worked. After the mandatory exchange of papers, we sat inside the car as he went through the various switches and panels. He began the briefing with a rather reassuring statement that I had not bought an EV similar to what Tesla produces which would have made me almost totally dependent on the panel to the left of the steering wheel, which could be problematic for some people. The EV I had bought was closer to the traditional car I had been operating for half a century meaning that I would probably adapt to it easier and faster. Nevertheless, he went on to say that he was certain I would forget most of what he said and referred to the literature and thick handbooks he had placed in the glove compartment, with the added assurance that I could call him anytime I needed to, or I could call the emergency help line. After more than an hour, he asked me to start the car and made two rounds around his office block before waving me goodbye. I was on my way, with Su sitting beside me.
The trip back to Mei Foo was familiar territory, and I got back problem free. Well, almost. The car made strange noises every now and then and when I changed lanes without switching on the indicators, and so on. I also left the carpark access card in the gym back in the trunk. But these were minor problems. I parked the car alright in my parking lot, switched it to the parking mode, took away everything we needed, with the headlights still on, and closed all the doors, in the confidence that the car would shut down by itself after we left. It certainly wouldn’t. We waited outside and pressed the switches on the door handle and the car keys, but nothing happened. I got back inside and the seats and switches began to move as the switchboard announced that the machine was ready. I called Will who promptly told me to press the same button with which I started the car.
Yes, an EV is not really a car. It is a computer with wheels. Just as we would start and shut down a desk top or notebook computer by pressing the same button, we need to do the same with an EV. That was Lesson Number One.
The next day, I drove to Ricci Hall for morning Mass. It had been raining hard overnight and the humidity was high. After I started the EV, mist developed and clouded my vision. I turned on other switches that I thought would clear the front window, only to make it worse. It wasn’t raining at the time, but I had to turn on the windscreen wiper all the way. I later found out I had turned on the wrong switches which had the effect of warming up the windscreen thereby causing more mist on the surface. That was a low grade error which had nothing to do with the EV. After Mass, I went to KCC for a break and a gym session. Strange things happened when I tried to drive home. I couldn’t even start the EV. I began to sweat. Could the battery have run out already? I called Will presently. He asked me to go through what I had done since, which I did. He then asked me a very simple and innocent question, “Where was your right foot when you pressed the start button?” I wasn’t paying any attention to my foot and could not understand why Will had asked the question. Will probably sensed it and promptly asked me to put my right foot on the brakes and press the start button again, which I did. That was Lesson Number Two: one must put the foot on the brakes before one can start an EV. A friend later said that the rule actually applied to petrol vehicles. Well, I have forgotten about that.
I left the EV alone over the weekend because I had other priorities, but had managed to take my application to use the charging points at the Mei Foo Car Park to the Management Office. The guy at the office assured me that I had given him all the necessary papers and that I would receive confirmation that I could use the facilities very soon. By the following Monday though, nothing seemed to have happened. Su and I decided to try out the charging facilities elsewhere – there were so many anyway close by and plenty more near the Cheung Sha Wan Government Offices Building. We had a good meal in Tsuen Wan and were about to try out the new experiences, but we decided to check out the devices at the Mei Foo Car Park first. Good we did. It actually worked, except that we had probably paid more than we should, but that was not a problem. Lesson Number Three: the guy at the Management Office probably did not know what he was doing; and I could have used the charging facilities after I had received the device through the post from the EV power company, which I had, even before I had the EV.
We had other new age experience during the week. Marco, who had come to install the Chromecast device a fortnight ago, returned this week to re-wire my desk top computer and to pick up where he left with other work last time. I would skip the details, except to report and record with gratitude that he had given me a clean desk top with enough room and space to hold a champagne breakfast or lunch for two at the desk, which we did after he left. My desk top had been so crowded and clogged up all these years; and at times I couldn’t even find enough space to write a cheques, let alone to work on my files. Marco had removed a few devices and wirings which appeared to be redundant and in the process had made our Wi-Fi go faster. He also relocated a printer to a side table, with the promise of a third visit to wire it back to the CPU which he had also relocated.
Bernard Shaw had said, “Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” He also had other quotes asking people not to be afraid of making mistakes, assuring them that “a life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.” I am a firm believer of Shaw, which is why I am always doing things and trying to catch up with the times or the new age.