The Rules: arguing after a traffic accident

His language teachers later told him that he should have stayed lying on the road until a crowd formed. Then get up, blame the driver, and make demands. With a crowd around him, the children, and the driver, all passing judgment against the driver, she would be forced to negotiate and eventually pay something. That’s not what happened this time, and I thought it was interesting how it played out.

We haven’t had a traffic accident yet, but one of the German doctors who ate the frogs with us did last week. Interesting story from a cultural perspective.

sanlunchesmall.JPGHe was driving an electric three-wheel cart (sān lún chē – 三轮车) with kindergarten aged kids in the back. A car trying to squeeze through a red light ahead of the vehicles turning left almost plowed into the sān lún chē. They both hit the brakes and he swerved so hard he fell off onto the road. Thankfully, the sān lún chē was designed for the cart to stay level even if the driver tipped over. He was scratched and shaken up a bit, angry and scared, but not really hurt. The kids were OK. The car stopped about half a meter away from them. And here’s where the rules come in.

Usually if there’s an accident the bigger vehicle is at fault, or at least partially at fault. Plus, this driver was clearly in the wrong by running the red light and driving out of her lane. But instead of lying in the road while a crowd formed, our friend got up off the road right away, slammed on the hood of the car and started trying to argue with the driver through the driver-side window. And that was her chance. She put both hands on the steering wheel and stared straight ahead, refusing to acknowledge that he was even there. It was infuriating, but with no crowd gathering around a victim in the road, she wasn’t forced to negotiate. Eventually he was forced to give up and they went their separate ways. But not before he loudly told her something like, “You have no courtesy,” and a taxi driver across the street laughed and gave him the thumbs up sign.

The driver’s reaction reminds me of the two girls we saw getting yelled at on Saturday; they just sat there as if the irate boyfriend/husband wasn’t there. I don’t know what all is going on with all this, but one day hopefully we will.

6 thoughts on “The Rules: arguing after a traffic accident”

  1. oh, it gets better. I’m reading stuff on face practices right now, and I suppose one day it will all make sense, but the case studies are fascinating… different “cultural grammars” as some of these authors say. People are more different on the inside than our mushy multicultural overlords realize, i think.

    It’s like the few times we’ve watched made-for-Chinese Chinese movies, and have no clue why people got mad, sad, happy, or suicidal, or why they would respond in certain ways.

  2. howdy joel and jessica. this is sharon..josh temple and billy’s mom. thought i would put my 2 bits in about this emotion reaction deal. did you ever see the movie “Good Morning Vietnam”? there is a scene when robin williams is teaching the class and teaching them how to verbally react to different situations. anyway, he talks to one and the guy says “i do nothing” which makes robin very irritated. and then he tells the man what someone is doing to him and the man says “i do nothing..i just remain reticent”. i think that by doing nothing and giving no credit to the angry person..the passive person is gaining the power of the situation. it is nothing to have someone react to you..but to not react..you are getting the upper hand and so the power is in your court..and the angry person has lost all power in the situation. it is all about control. why feed on someone’s anger and give them the satisfaction of feeding that anger? when it is sooo very much sweeter to do nothing and letting them lose control? anyway, that is my thoughts on it. also, i’ve very much enjoyed the daily emails. tell jessica i miss her coffee muffins. oh yeah, we all got together yesterday at nelson’s house. and we were wondering if we wanted to send you something..say a birthday present..how would we go about doing that? what is the proper procedure for doing that?
    we miss you…our thoughts are always with you..and i can’t wait to hear from you.
    sharon

  3. Hey Sharon, good to hear from you! The stuff you described from that movie sounds like the kinds of passive-aggressive power games they told us to avoid when we had our premarital counseling. I miss Jessica’s coffee muffins, too. We don’t have an oven over here. If you e-mail us we can send you mailing info. So nice to be remembered! =) Say hi to the Patriarch and the kids for us.

  4. hey joel..i will most definately tell the patriarch that you said hi. you don’t have an oven? how do you cook? do you atleast have a stove? here is some news to make you feel old..josh temple will be starting his sophomore year in high school next month. he’s 5’9″ now. i’m starting to teach him how to drive. scary huh? billy just got glasses, they look real good on him too. he says hi! he’s as tall as uncle josh. will be emailing you soon for that info.
    give jessica a hug for us!
    sharon

  5. Rice cookers! That’s how we cook, and we have a stove top. Man, little Josh isn’t little anymore? And driving? Crazy! Say hi to both of them for us, and it’d be cool to get an e-mail from those guys.

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