For many years I have said (probably also on this blog) that I never want a driver. I prefer to drive myself, and don’t want to lose the little bit of privacy that is still left in this Web 2.0 era. Well, since a few weeks I have a driver, and I have changed my point of view. The reason we decided to hire one is because my wife is now so pregnant that she cannot drive anymore. And because she often has to work late at night (she is CFO of Tudou.com) she does not want to walk around in the dark looking for taxi’s. Also, when the baby will be born it will be much more convenient for my wife to get around. So finally I gave in and she hired a Shanghainese driver.
Having one makes traveling around Shanghai certainly a lot more convenient. I can work or write blog posts (like right now) from the back seat of my car while listening to my own music. If I need him he is there within a few minutes, the car is always washed and I never have to get gas anymore. It certainly makes me more productive (I cannot sit in a car doing nothing), and that already compensates the cost of the driver. Furthermore he can do small tasks for us, like going to the post office or the bank, or paying bills. The negative side is that everybody in my office probably knows where I have lunch, where I have meetings and what time I come and go to the office. Not a big deal, because I don’t really believe in the concept of privacy anyway (hence this blog), but it feels a bit strange at first.
What I have to get used to, however, is that he is a bit stubborn and claims to know the quickest way in Shanghai. Well, I am stubborn as well, and he does not always fully agree with my decisions (too bad for him of course). Also his driving style is a bit too aggressive (blowing the horn every 500 meters or so, never breaking for pedestrians even when they clearly have the right of way), but at least that’s better than a passive driver who would brake when a traffic light is still green. He used to be the driver of the boss of a state-owned enterprise, maybe there they teach their drivers to be pro-active and not to care for other drivers in their driving style. Overall the experience in the first weeks was quite positive, let’s see how I feel about it in a few months.
you are stubborn, now you have a stubborn driver, that’s wonderful! maybe you can train him to be not so stubborn;)
Marc, I’m not sure if you know it or not, given that you’ve been living in China for a while. A driver is not really a driver, but someone to “monitor” the boss’s activities and reports them to the big boss. (Not in your case of course)
They’re allowed to dine with the boss’s clients, chat with them, and they never see themselves as drivers.
When I accompanied my father to some factories in nearby cities during some biz trips, I was quite shock to learn about this. These drivers talked as if they’re bosses themselves.
They’re never too obedient, so this is why your driver argued with you. Ah, I’ve almost forgotten, did you say he used to work for an SOE?
Hi Cintia, sure I know the role of drivers in China. But this is not someone hired by the company, but it’s a private driver that I pay myself. He works directly for me and my wife, and for nobody else. And he certainly does not dine with my clients or business partners, but stays in the car while I am eating.