2019-10-26 - To Save Face Or Not


Babs speaks to Ken about 'saving face' and they're mutual project

Log Info:

Storyteller: None
Date: Sat Oct 26 05:34:26 2019
Location: Clocktower

Related Logs


Theme Song



Babs is moving a lot more slowly today. Being knocked into a wall by Circe hurt a lot - aggravating the location of her initial wound.

It's getting on just past two pm and the redhead has just finished meeting with a client. Having time for a break, she's moving slowly into her favourite cafe, leaning more heavily on her cane than she usually does.

The door opens to the Cafe behind her and a man in business attire steps in. He blinks for a moment at the mass of red hair in front of him and cants his head slightly. "Barbara-San?"

She knows that voice. She's heard it both during the day and the night. Kenuichio Harada. Who is apparently hear for lunch. Well. She does know that his businesses aren't too terribly far away, but still she has never seen him here.

Barbara stops and turns slowly when she hears Kens voice. Her face is paler than usually and there's a pinched quality to it. "Kenuichio-san…." The voice is low and she manages a wan smile for the man. "Are you following me? Or is this a happy coincidence?"

Taking a breath, Babs start to move again towards the table that she sighted on her way her in. At least there's table service here and she won't have to move again for a little while.

"I was going to have tea, would you like to join me?"

"I would." Kenuichio nods as he follows her and pulls the chair out for her. "And I am not following you, nor am I quite sure how I would begin." He'd need to know where she spends her days to manage that.

"You seem to be in pain though." He's seen her practice and hurt. He knows her injury causes her pain. This seems worse. And she's moving slower than usual too.

"One might live in hope that you would be, Kenuichio-San." Barbara manages to tease as she eases herself into the chair he holds. "And thank you. It's nice to see that chilvary isn't dead."

"You are observant, I see. I … managed to slip last night and twisted my back. Aggravating my old injury. I think I should train harder to develop my core to avoid that in future, don't you think?"

"What brings you here, at any rate?" Babs does indeed know that Ken works around here.

"Your core would help yes but you really require back muscle strengthening and that is a different set of exercises." Ken isn't a therapist though. He's sure Barbara has one and probably has recommended her a routine. What he knows is how to teach the fighting arts and what is needed to be good at them.

"What brings me here? The club sandwich." This place does have a good club. It has avocados. "I was working with my family's businesses and I shall, sadly, have to return there before the day is out." He's decent at this kind of work, but it's really not his passion.

"Perhaps. And perhaps I need to be not so clumsy." Barbara answers. "The club sandwich, hmmm? Have you tried the schnitzel they do? It's really quite good." She probably does have a therapist but the redhead is remarkably closed mouth about her personal life, in general.

"Return to the office when you would rather return to the dojo. I know the office isn't your favourite place. I must thank you by the way …" The redhead goes quiet when the server appears and places her order. Not the schnitzel, but a chopped salad with chicken breast and pot of tea to go with it.

When Ken places his order and the server disappears, Barbara smiles wanly again and continues. "I must thank you for talking to my associate. She's asked me to look into finding out about the work that was done in those houses and apartments. I'm developing some questions that might … bring up matters of face. I was wondering if you might give me some examples though."

"I do not believe I have." Tried the schnitzel that is. He'll have to put that on the list. For now it's tried and true comfort food for Ken.

"Your associate and I may have met before." The businessman confesses. "I hope it was helpful. She seemed rather… eager to act. I am slightly concerned she will find dealing with the Yakuza to be outside of her usual experience." But he might be there to help her. The Oracle had asked him after all.

"Examples of face, you mean, Barbara-san?"

"You have, have you? When was that? Or is that something I shouldn't ask?" Barbara smiles a little. It must seem to Ken that she doesn't know that. Should ever find out her secret, what will he do? That's something that Barbara will worry about *if* that should ever occur.

"Perhaps it is outside her experience but I'm given to understand she learns quickly. Hopefully your concern is shortlived."

"And yes. It is a concept that is somewhat foreign to my Western mind."

"Recently. It has to do with my prior line of work." That's all Ken will say on the topic because he doesn't want to involve Barbara in his vigilante mess any more than is necessary. Especially not injured as she is. It would be the end of her.

"Face is difficult to explain to those who have not grown up with it. It comes from a place of thinking like an Asian and not like a Westerner. We value things like equality and forthrightness far less. It's important to not cause people embarrassment, or to reveal weakness or inadequacy. In some cases even a confrontation or disagreement in public may lead to loss of face."

Barbara's green eyes hold Kens for a moment before she nods, sensing he won't be drawn further on the matter - which suits her just fine.

"If we are too socially engineer the tradesman who worked on those places, are you saying that we don't want to cause them to lose face?"

She's thinking on this "Or imply they may lose face because of 'issues' that might exist? I was thinking we could call the companies and imply that there were potential problems with the work that they did. Would that work, or is the opposite tack more appropriate?"

"Threatening someone with loss of face can be unproductive." Ken points out. "Because in eastern cultures it is perfectly acceptable to lie in order to save face either for oneself or someone else. So your target may make up a story or feign ignorance. Anything that is even vaguely plausible to get out of the situation. Saving them from a loss of face, or causing them to gain face is more productive. They'll like you at that point and you might be able to get what you need out of them."

That takes rather more social engineering than the other way but it's also far, far less likely to backfire spectacularly.

Babs listens intently, nodding every now and then. "I see. So a call to say that we know they did work and would be interested in working with them.

Babs listens intently, nodding every now and then. "I see. So a call to say that we know they did work and would be interested in working with them. Or that we had noted a problem that needed fixing but rather than bringing it to anyones attention, we bought it straight to them."

"I will work on that but if you are able to review what I do, I would appreciate it. Most things in my line of work has to be handled delicately. This one even more so."

"It would be helpful I think, if we were to put some examples into practice. My Western brain doesn't bend to that easily." Not being direct is a challenge for the redhead. It's something she rather likes in peoples dealings with her.

"You could try it at the dojo." Ken says with a small chuckle. "It is a very different way of thinking. And it is one that East Asians do not even know they are doing, often. It is simply the way we are raised."

And a lot of it has to do with being very aware of social status, social superiors, having a hypersensitivity to things that may cause embarrassment and other things that Westerners just DON'T DO.

"I will do my best to educate you though, if you wish to learn. You will find some of it odd. Possibly you will find some of it offensive." Because, well, it's that different.

"In any case your proposed solutions do sound like a better approach."

"I'm sure it is. I have read up on the subject and it seems something laced with land mines. Or perhaps verbal mines. Perhaps I shall try it at the dojo. If you don't think I will cause offense when I do." Their food arrives at that moment and when Bab leans back she winces, her eyes close for a moment as she compartmentalises the pain.

It's just a moment but by the time the server is gone, her eyes are open again. "My apologies, Kenuichio-san."

"Did you find it difficult when you came here to adjust to the way Westerners approach things?" beat "Or were you used to it from your dealings in Japan?"

"It is, even for us. For Westerners it is usually something I suggest people avoid by being excessively polite and leaving it at that. But I will not take offense no. I have travelled enough at this point to be used to gaijin and their ways." He means Westerners or possibly specifically Americans.

"It is sometimes difficult. There are many assumptions that are simply not true here. The values are different. For example here people would rather here an unpleasant truth, and will respect you for it, than a face saving lie. Lies in general disturb people here. Japan values the truth of course, but what is appropriate to actually SAY in a situation varies."

"We do value that, yes. I find it helps me improve. However, should I … ever … do something that makes you uncomfortable, Kenuichio-san, I would appreciate your teaching in the matter. Gaijin. An outside person."

"It is different here, but the same in ways. There are still 'rules' about what is appropriate to say - though sometimes people simply don't care. Or what's appropriate in one area is less so in another."

Perhaps she will make a game of it. See if Ken notices when she's trying or not.

"Foreigner, more properly. Not always a good connotation." Ken says as he begins to pick at his food. "Or the truth is more important. It's about valuing facts over the way that people feel or appear to others. In much of Asia, for much of its history, this was not the case. Chinese emperors, for example, had earmuffs so that they did not have to hear criticism."

Which is true. They're on display in China. It's also quite illustrative.

"Now, enough of that. How bad is your injury and what transpired to have you slip? You usually seem so careful."

"I have seen Shogun, Kenuichio-san." Babs offers a small smile as she starts her meal. She's teasing, just a little. "Ear muffs. Maybe I should invest in some for myself."

Her green eyes come up at the question and she sighs. "You are correct, I am careful. Would you believe it was something simple as a little water on the tiles in the bathroom and I was a little sleepy. My foot went out from under me and down I almost went. I twisted to get my balance, hit the door and it was just enough to bruise, twinge the nerves and strain the muscles."

Will he believe her? It's … mostly believable, right?

"Ah but have you seen The Last Samurai?" Ken says, deadpan. "If you wish to learn about the mysteries of Japan, that is where you must start." No, not really. That movie is meh at its absolute best.

"I might believe that yes. Though it looks like for such a relatively minor thing it has hurt you quite badly." The problem is that Kenuichio IS rather observant and over time there are a lot of little tells that Babs is more capable than she makes herself out to be. At the moment he has no reason to disbelieve her but… Well. Will that last?

"Cruise isn't a favourite of mine. I prefer Seven Samurai, if you were to give me a choice." Babs deadpans back. It's hard to tell if she's serious or not. "Perhaps I rather learn about the mysteries of Japan in a personal fashion." There's a glitter in her eyes to match that statement.

She's probably teasing.

"And maybe I do not wish to make too make to much of the accident, Kenuichio-san, for fear people might try and wrap me in cotton wool and tell me to slow down."

Will it last? The problem is that Babs rather enjoys the training with Ken and his company. The more time she spends with the observant man, the more he's bound to notice things.

"I have never found cotton to be good at keeping people safe." Ken says in between bites of his sandwich. "Silk now…"

He smiles slightly. He's teasing.

"Well, do not listen to them. Life must be lived and only you can live yours. Now, tell me stories of your other cases mmm? No need to make this chance meeting all about work."

"I could go for being wrapped in silk." Babs does blush, just a little though against her wan complexion it's bright. Still she seems to be enjoying the banter and it's taking her mind off her pain.

"I tend not to and I'm sure it frustrates many that I don't." The redhead cants her head and smiles a little more. "Oh well, you know that confidentiality is something I take very seriously. But how about I tell you some of the more … sillier things I had to investigate. Like the gentleman who was convinced that someone had taken up residence in his attic."

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License