UC Observer logo
UCObserver on SoundCloud UCObserver on YouTube UCObserver on Facebook UCObserver on Twitter UCObserver's RSS Feeds

My Year of Buying Nothing

That time I came clean about fuel consumption

By Lee Simpson

The Observer has put very few constraints on what I write. My prose gets a buff and shine but has rarely merited major body work. I am grateful for that. There is only one policy with which I quibble: it doesn’t encourage authors to submit responses to comments that get posted on ucobserver.org. I understand the reasoning: I get my soliloquy. You, dear reader, deserve the last word. 

I have a fiendishly clever rejoinder, however. I’m answering a recent comment here, not to put him or her in his or her place; simply to set the record straight. The comment was about putting fuel in my car. It’s clearly not an edible oil product, so consumption of it is outside the rules of my Year of Buying Nothing. 

Besides, I don’t have a car. I have never had a car or a licence for that matter. To be clear, there’s an automobile in our household. But I’m that rarity — a lifelong non-driver. I would love to claim this as a moral stance and say that this was a prescient, environmentally-conscious position. Nope. Here is the sorry truth: I was in the process of obtaining a driver’s licence at the age of 17 when I had an accident. It was an accident in a car borrowed from my friend’s grandmother no less. And I had no permission to drive said car.

The borrower took the blame and, in agreement for covering up, exacted a promise from me not to attempt driving ever again. Shaken and cornered, I committed to this, of course, and didn’t fess up for a quarter of a century!

Honestly, it was no hardship, though. I lived in towns with good public transport. I loved to walk. I had family and friends who kept me on the road. The only times I ever longed to be a driver was when I saw my girlfriends take off, blasting The Animals on their car stereos and singing away, free as birds. I, on the other hand, got a transistor and walked far from others. 

Today, we live in the country, so I’m more dependent on drivers around me. As the commenter mentioned, I have a congregation at the moment and need to see the housebound. My husband is always gracious, though. It’s his contribution to mission. And when walking won’t do, folks are remarkably accommodating about giving me a lift. In a small town, someone is always going your way. Plus, I keep an emergency fund for taxis and have used it twice this year. 

We have all read the report on climate change. If our grandchildren’s grandchildren are to live on planet earth, we have to relinquish fossil fuels by the end of the century. The two-plus car household has only been the norm for 30 years. So as a step in the right direction, could we consider returning to that shared automobile until the electric car is perfected and affordable? 

Unfair for me to ask that, you say? Well, you don’t get if you don’t ask! And all of us are going to have to get nervy about asking this very question. 


Author's photo
Rev. Lee Simpson is a writer in Lunenburg, N.S. New posts of YBN will appear every other Friday. You can also check out a short documentary about Lee at http://www.ucobserver.org/video/2014/04/ybn/.
Readers’ advisory: The discussion below is moderated by The UC Observer and facilitated by Intense Debate (ID), an online commentary system. The Observer reserves the right to edit or reject any comment it deems to be inappropriate. Approved comments may be further edited for length, clarity and accuracy, and published in the print edition of the magazine. Please note: readers do not need to sign up with ID to post their comments on ucobserver.org. We require only your user name and e-mail address. Your comments will be posted from Monday to Friday between 9:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Join the discussion today!

Interviews

Courtesy of Pixabay

Why this woman is leaving the Catholic Church in her 60s

by Angela Mombourquette

After a lifetime devoted to Catholicism, a Nova Scotia teacher is settling in with the United Church of Canada. Here, she explains why.

Promotional Image

Editorials

Jocelyn Bell%

Observations: It’s a long road toward full equality for women

by Jocelyn Bell

'It’s a wonder that we continue to see male ministers as normative and attach shame to female ministers’ biology and sexuality.'

Promotional Image

Video

ObserverDocs: Playing by Heart

by Observer Staff

United Church music director Kara Shaw was born prematurely, became almost totally blind and was later diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. Today, the 28-year-old showcases her unique musical ability, performing piano on local and national stages.

Promotional Image

Faith

May 2018

Toronto church builds interfaith friendship

by Vivien Fellegi

Faith

May 2018

This parent found no support for her autistic daughter — and decided to change that

by Kieran Delamont

Suzanne Allen talks about raising a daughter on the autism spectrum and bringing all autistic girls together

Faith

May 2018

Church retreat helps first responders with PTSD

by Joe Martelle

Interviews

May 2018

Why this woman is leaving the Catholic Church in her 60s

by Angela Mombourquette

After a lifetime devoted to Catholicism, a Nova Scotia teacher is settling in with the United Church of Canada. Here, she explains why.

Ethics

May 2018

Pregnant in the pulpit

by Trisha Elliott

Ministers who take a maternity leave still face discrimination in their own congregations

Interviews

May 2018

The two words Rev. Cheri DiNovo wants to hear from the United Church

by Alex Mlynek

The Toronto minister talks about her disappointment over the church’s silence when she officiated the country’s first legalized same-sex marriage 17 years ago – and why she wants an apology.

Promotional Image