How to Have a Car Accident in China

by Jeanine Adinaro on February 14, 2010

in Chinese Culture

Periodically, I like to refocus. Particularly, I want to take a few keystrokes to refocus on why we, the Herbalogic team, are in the herb business. Our mission statement is a simple one:

Third Coast Herb Company, Inc. will bridge the cultural gap between traditional Chinese herbal therapy and American healthcare consumers.

Periodically I will be writing about my experiences with Chinese culture as it contrasts with American culture to try to highlight some of those cultural differences. In 2005, I was in China for 7 weeks studying acupuncture on a school sponsored trip. People frequently ask what the most culturally different thing I witnessed while there was, and David Jones, our fearless Director of Production, really deserves the credit for coming up with what I consider to be the perfect answer.

Our school group was returning from an outing to the local herb market, all piled into a van, when we got into a fender-bender with a taxicab. Our driver jumped out and began yelling at the other driver.  The other driver quickly jumped out of his car and began yelling back. All of this shouting was animated by wild arm waving and periodic gestures toward the damaged vehicles. After about 10 minutes of this, our driver reached into his pocket, pulled out his wallet, and handed the taxi driver a stack of money. The cab driver similarly pulled out his wallet, and handed our driver change. Then both drivers returned to their vehicles and continued on their respective journeys. The 10 minute argument had been to establish fault and haggle over the price of the accident.

No exchange of insurance information, no police, no lawyers, no threats of lawsuits. It’s too crowded in China for all that nonsense.

early morning traffic in Chengdu, China 2005

early morning traffic in Chengdu, China 2005

This theme carries over into business conduct in China too. In the absence insurance, police, lawyers and lawsuits, businesses know the only thing they have backing them up is the quality of their reputation. Some companies produce goods quickly and cheaply, and their reputation reflects that. Other companies produce goods with care and at higher prices, and their reputation reflects that. At Herbalogic, we strive to emulate the later.

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