Welcome to the home of Noah Brier. I'm the co-founder of Variance and general internet tinkerer. Most of my writing these days is happening over at Why is this interesting?, a daily email full of interesting stuff. This site has been around since 2004. Feel free to get in touch. Good places to get started are my Framework of the Day posts or my favorite books and podcasts. Get in touch.

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Driving China

I just started reading a book called Country Driving and it’s super interesting (I’m only 800 units in on the kindle). It’s subtitled “A Journey Through China from Farm to Factory” and is essentially an American’s journey through China from behind the wheel. I particularly liked this story of negotiating a small traffic accident (which apparently happens quite regularly).

Once, a driver backed into my rental car near the Lama Temple in downtown Beijing. I got out to inspect the dent; the other motorist, by way of introduction, immediately said, “One hundred yuan.” It was the equivalent of about twelve dollars, which was generally the starting point for a midsize Beijing dent. When this offer was relayed by telephone to Mr. Wang [the rental operator], his response was also immediate: “Ask for two hundred.” I bargained for five minutes, until the other driver finally agreed to one hundred and fifty. Mr. Wang was satisfied; he knew you never get what you ask for. And every accident had a silver lining–dents were good business. There wasn’t any paperwork for these exchanges, and I suspected that the desk men at Capital Motors sometimes kept the cash.

Am sure there are more quotes to come.

May 13, 2010