Philosophy In Aisle 9


alvin_icon.gif asi_icon.gif

Scene Title Philosophy in Aisle 9
Synopsis A trip to the store ends up turning into an exchange neither party expected.
Date January 8, 2019

Yamagato Park

"You should pick up anything you need, too," Asi comments over her shoulder at her shadow. "Since we're here."

The smaller, local market is clearly designed to cater to Japanese sensibilities, having quite a lot to offer in the space it occupies. Looking more domestic than she's probably comfortable with, Asi tries to offset the aesthetic by barely touching the cart she pushes in front of her as she steps through the sliding glass doors of the front, a burst of cold air whipping through after them.

"It would be no trouble at all to stop at your place first on the way back home," she offers, nudging the cart into a different angle and closing her fingers around the grip to pull it to a stop so she can more properly look at Alvin, and give him a moment to double back for a basket or his own, if needed.

Alvin steps inside just ahead of Asi, past the carts and the door, eyes tracking around the inside of the store. Does he think there's a threat here? No. But really when you make assumptions is when everything goes sideways. He's calm though, his features slightly reddened by the cold. He pauses just inside to wait for Asi to step past him, settling in at her side. He's a good shadow, usually rather unobtrusive. "My shopping has already been done for the week. But if I think of anything while we are here I'll put it in your cart if it is not too much trouble."

Alvin's walk is slow, keeping pace with Asi as she browses the wares in the store. It's a very well stocked store. Could be cut part and parcel right out of any average town in Japan. "How are you liking things here?" He asks, making an effort with a little small talk! "Obviously the surroundings are rather familiar, but your over all impression?" His eyes do indeed scan the shelves as they walk, though most of his attention is definitely not on the food that surrounds them, but on the other patrons in the store. The badge pinned to the outside of his coat clearly identifies him as security, so his scrutiny is not taken as an out of place thing by most.

"Go right ahead." Asi lifts her shoulders in a shrug when Alvin declines. She tried, at least. And she had been making more and more of an effort of trying, instead of not speaking at all. Given she didn't know where to place her trust, she's opted more times for silence than smalltalk, not trusting herself to become too comfortable. Alvin, as much the ability she knows he holds initially made her wary of him, has edged his way into the few that get more than a passing deflection.

So his question is one she actually considers as she leans over an open cooler to snag a package of Yakult. "Overall?" she echoes back to buy herself some time, looking ahead again without seeing what's in front of her as she thinks. Her fingertips drum the handle of the cart. "It's nothing like what I expected. Not the civilization I think anyone would expect of the US. Instead, wonders more appropriate to late 21st century and a dystopian apocalypse simultaneously live side by side, surrounded by untamed forest frontier and an isle of thieves."

She pauses to consider sale pricing listed on a stock card. "And that is just New York, not even the country as a whole," she points out absently. "It's hard to put together a single impression. The composites are varied, though." Asi looks back to him for a moment, the corner of her eyes creasing in what could be considered a friendly way. Nothing quite like a smile, but something amicable. "The surprises did not end with the surroundings. American politics have been very interesting to witness firsthand. The election season was rather jarring. One would think history is about to repeat itself, with some of the commentary being tossed around."

The opinion's honest, at least.

Alvin doesn't normally do the small talk thing when he's supposed to be a shadow cuz shadows don't talk. So he's almost always rather quiet himself. But unlike some people he's quite comfortable in silence. There's a soft humming from him as he browses the shelves and the people, humming the tune to an old song as he walks, though he pauses to look back over in Asi's direction. Of all the people at Yamagato Alvin is probably one of the most honest over all. He doesn't lie about his past, because he doesn't talk about his past. Ever. And his loyalty to Yamagato is rather beyond doubt. But at the same time… he is who he is. And if you know his past it's more reason than anyone could possibly need to be wary of him.

His eyes track the snagging of the Yakult, and a faint… smile? Ghosts across his lips. It's a flit of the corner of his mouth, not truly a smile, but for him it is. "I prefer the apple myself." He comments softly, but does tip his head to the question. "That is pretty much New York in a nutshell. Always has been if I'm being honest. You could go to Downtown Manhattan and it was all glass and chrome. And then you go to the Bronx or Queens and it looks like some near future Dystopia. The differences have grown… more distinct since the war. But they were always there." He converses! His head does dip to her further comments, a shallow but firm nod of his head. "The country is still very much in turmoil. And politics has been a rather volatile subject in recent years."

Alvin looks over at a few items on the shelf nearest him, considering for a moment before his head shakes. Doesn't need any. Will next time he comes by though. "The chaos is very… unsettling in comparison to Japan. I didn't realize just how much it would unsettle me when I first came back here with the setup of the Park."

"Unsettling how?" might not be the question back that Alvin would expect, but Asi is curious. She glances at him out of the corner of her eye before she goes back to scanning packages of pre-fileted fish for anything that catches her eye. She looks intent enough on the task before her, but she keeps her ears firmly open and her attention on the conversation. The differences between the US and Japan were vast in both in a physical and political landscape, but it was rare to hear an outside take on it. One she could count to be candid, anyway.

"Even in the face of the Registration system employed there?" Asi asks before she has the sense to simply 'hm' and nod and move on. Her hand pauses over the package she's about to pick up, eyes darting back and forth. Like she'd simply changed her mind at the last moment about her selection, rather than she'd spoken negatively about the government she represents. She picks up the filet after all, placing it carefully into the cart.

"The two systems are very different, after all." she supplies casually, trying to not emphasise the criticism she'd spoken. "Though I suppose as a Yamagato employee, you wouldn't notice a difference. The corporate exclusion zone in regards to local laws exists in both countries." One eyebrow lifts, head tilting just slightly as she looks back to him. "Where mega-corporations like Praxis, Yamagato, simply get to do … whatever they want, so long as they keep any lawbreaking quiet."

There's a tone of disapproval attached to that, one added by default given her status as a member of the Mugai-Ryu. It was hard to uphold the law when you were in a zone where the laws did not apply. Not exactly.

She turns, the look breaking as she continues on. "Japan has structure, where America has always professed its freedoms. Freedom to live without structure or within it. To stay within the Safe Zones, or live in the frontiers beyond. Freedom to register, freedom to not. Freedom to express … certain beliefs." Asi's voice goes to something more deadpan as she finishes that thought. Like perhaps not all freedoms are for the best.

Alvin dips his head forwards in a slow nod. "Why should their registration system matter to me?" He comments in a soft and slightly curious tone, his attention splitting, watching a woman who's lingering a little overlong nearby. His scrutiny and the badge on his coat soon has her scooting along. Which of course means Alvin has to go check the shelving near where she was standing. When he finds nothing untoward he returns to Asi's side. Alvin himself doesn't tell anyone that he's Evolved. And really only a few of the upper level people at the park even know that he is.

"I can understand the mistrust of companies operating in sovereignty. But I would posit that it was inevitable that companies would grow to the point where they would be able to demand and recieve such. When a good portion of a country's economy depends upon just a few corporations they wield a good deal of authority. Were Yamagato or Praxis to collapse the effect on Japan's economy would be catastrophic. And this is no new thing. Companies growing so large and powerful. Look to England and the East India trading company of the seventeen and eighteen hundreds. And look how far England fell when that company collapsed."

"I would say you are correct. Americans have many freedoms. And they embrace them. But they do lose out on things because of that. Japan does not have as many freedoms. But they gain many benefits because of that. Both are industrious countries. One chaotic but still productive. The other ordered and also productive."

It takes some doing for Asi to bite back a visceral reaction to limiting the description of either country as 'industrious'. Both had so much more to offer the world than just their productivity. The reaction is easier to mask, though, given the realization she'd had when he brushed off her bringing up the registration system. She had met his eyes for just a moment then, a question forming in her expression before she turned away, leaving him to his privacy.

He passes as unregistered. Something Asi had never stopped to consider, though it's a position she can't help but envy. The Japanese woman pauses before a shelf simply to scan it, looking to see if anything in particular jumps out at her. Something extra for her to take home and enjoy, aside from grabbing just enough to subsist.

"Productivity without oversight leads to issues causing declines like those. Industrialism without order and proper responsibility being taken is bound to end in … tragedy, I suppose." she says while she skims, head ducking back as she peers down at a lower shelf level. Sacks of rice line the bottom shelves, and she sighs quietly from her nose. Who knew if she'd be in the States long enough to go through another bag herself. "Though America is inarguably being sustained by megacorporations at the moment. You," as Alvin is of Yamagato, after all. "Pump the lifeblood back into the city's veins. Rebuilding infrastructure, developing new settlements, helping influence law, to an extent…"

A soft, but dry laugh escapes with her next breath. "Talking in matters of history, it's a little ironic that Japan would be doing this now for the US, given what happened following the second world war…" Instead of getting an entire new bag of rice, she opts for some toppings and seasoning to make the best of what she has left at home. Perhaps more eating out was on the menu in the future. Supporting small local businesses, and the like.

"Call me a cynic, but Japan still is getting the short end of the stick, even now." There's a brief, wry touch to her expression before she glances back to Alvin. "We're keeping this country from falling in on itself, or falling to those who'd use it as a science experiment or worse, with very little in the way of a 'thank you' or a stronger ear on policy development." Not that some of the suggestions that Japan might have to offer, especially regarding Registration, might be worth undertaking … but it was still an interesting dynamic nonetheless.

Alvin can see that, the biting back. Alvin himself doesn't comment on it, just watches her as she works through it. He is trained in watching people, in seeing reactions. In his line of work it's the little details that determine failure and success so he's trained to spot them. He walks along with her, scanning the shelves as well. He does pause a moment in front of a shelf, picking up a small package of high gluten flour that he places in the shopping cart. Whether it's something he actually needs or whether he's just being polite isn't entirely clear. "I agree that productivity without oversight is dangerous. But who decides what is proper oversight? The Japanese government? The US government? The UN? An undisciplined company will soon find itself falling prey to its rivals. If Yamagato were less disciplined Praxis would put us out of business. And the reverse is true as well. Every company constantly looks for advantage over its competitors. One good slip and they will cast you down. It forces a company to remain disciplined. At least in my opinion and experience." He looks at the rice as well, but just for a moment.

"We do do those things. Not without purpose of course." It makes the company look very good in the eyes of the American public. And it will provide increased business opportunities as the country rebuilds. "I don't know that I would call it irony. I think it goes further than that myself." Alvin resumes walking forwards a few steps after Asi, his steps echoing hers almost perfectly, step for step his coming just behind hers. "Japan is being smart. It is taking hold of the stick rather than getting either end of it. And if Yamagato's efforts fail? Then it is just a company and Japan need take no blame for the company's failure. Where as they can claim success from Yamagato's successes. It is very light on risk. Yamagato invests its funds and resources, though yes Yamagato's failure may impact Japan economically. But would the fall of the United States not impact the Japanese economy to a much greater degree? Losing one of their largest trading partners?"

Asi had curbed back most outward reaction to their conversation until now, but as he speaks her mouth hardens into a line that curls up into a thin smile, even though she doesn't look quite back at him. "What a remarkable amount of insight for a man working security." she remarks with some amusement, her eyes sharper than they were before. "Far beyond just being able to read a room."

"You're correct in that determining who provides that oversight is an important question. To what end it's conducted is another. But a corporation can still thrive for a long time before it succumbs to its bad business practices. Does that negate any suffering or wrongdoing done in the meantime, that could have otherwise been prevented had someone only been there with eyes wide open?" She picks up a thin box of curry cubes, turning it over in her hand in a shrug-like gesture. "Oversight helps more than it hurts. It identifies blind spots. It helps to correct errors."

Not unlike her current role with Yamagato was intended to do, arguably.

Alvin shakes his head slowly in response to Asi's comment. "Simply the observances of an observant security specialist Miss Asi. Nothing more." There's a faint smile this time that actually tugs at the corner of his mouth instead of just a twitch. It's gone quickly enough, but it was there for a moment after speaking. "Reading a situation is paramount to fulfilling my duties. So is mitigating risk. These things I see in Japan and Yamagato's actions. That is all." His voice is level, calm almost serene really. He tucks his hands into the pockets of his coat, hooking his thumbs on the outsides as they continue to move through the store.

"If there was always someone there to stop a company from doing something just because it could inconvenience someone else we would all still be fishing with spears and building huts out of straw. Progress is built on the back of sufferance. Countries and people stand by and allow things to happen because they know it will be for their benefit later. And of course that has not always rung true through history, but exceptions do not invalidate a rule, only show that it is not infallible. How often have we had huge breakthroughs in science, technology and culture without people suffering for it? A new technology emerges, it puts people involved in the old technology out of work. Their family suffers. Should we stop that technological advancement to stop their suffering? That is just one example but it can be applied equally. In the end though? The people will provide the oversight. Eventually they will grow tired of a crooked corporation's ways. They will cease purchasing their product. Corrupt governments get overthrown. In history the people have always been their own arbiters in the end."

"A laissez faire approach to business only works under the presumption that there are options. For example, should a company purchase, guard, and resell a population's only source of water, at a price unmanageable to it, will they really cease purchasing that necessary product?" Asi knows very well the example doesn't relate to the company they're both in the influence sphere of, but feels it's a necessary point to make regardless. "The only option against that is, what, revolution? No; society has advanced and bettered to prevent unneeded suffering. Oversight may not be comfortable, but sometimes it is necessary."

They've rolled by stacks of freezers, some standing upright while others have a glass horizontal face. In a split-second, Asi's found her impulse purchase — a light box of waffle-encased ice cream tossed wantonly on top of the other items in the cart. Satisfied with that, she continues on to swing back around by the produce section.

In the intervening amount of time, she's calmed some, though her hands remain firmly on the cart now, more focused on their chat than how she looks while they have it. Her posture is stiff, only her head turning as she continues almost on autopilot to finish the rest of the errand.

"There are simply responsibilities any company, any developer, any scientist has to consider the wellbeing of all when they put forth a new practice, a new concept, or a new plan." Asi says as they round the corner. "A responsibility, I might add, that extends as well to politicians; though they seem perfectly happy to shed those responsibilities these days for the sake of inciting populist resentment for the other, whoever that 'other' happens to be."

"A responsibility not just to push the limits, but do better than those who came before. To leave a better world behind." she insists in a quieter voice.

Alvin turns his head to look over at Asi, a direct look for once and not one of his quick glances. A brow has raised upwards sharply at the example given. Because yeah, they both know that doesn't apply to the given conversation. His head shakes slowly though at the point she presses further. "I do not agree. Progress will always come at a cost. Unless you mean for the world to stay exactly as it is it will continue to progress. And that progress will not be without cost." There's a lift of one shoulder from the security specialist in regards to that cost. "Myself for instance. Before I came to work for Yamagato I was independant. Took my jobs where and when I wished. I traded that freedom for the security of working for Yamagato. And in due time Mister Nakamura proved that sacrifice to be worth it. But it took time to adjust. And it was not without cost. It is a small scale example, but for me that was progress. And it cost me." He looks around the store a little bit as he thinks for a few moments.

"Oversight is only as good as the overseers. Are you suggesting that Japanese government is without fault or corruption? I would put forwards that in fact Yamagato is far more pure of purpose than the Japanese government. And have not done anything to suggest that they need said oversight." Publicly of course. Alvin's head turns again to look over at Asi, watching as she selects the ice creams. He smiles as she echoes a bit of his sentiment with her comments on politicians.

"So knowing that… who is qualified to provide that oversight? I again suggest that it is the will of the people that is the final arbiter. If they want their government to oversee companies, then they do. If they do not, then they do not. And when the government no longer represents the will of the people the people tend to tear it down. And yes, overwhelming force possessed will keep a people in thrall. But thankfully our society typically no longer stands for such things. Because the majority of the world does not stand for such things. The will of the people. In all things." His lips press into a thin line as he looks over the produce, but doesn't select anything.

"America is a perfect example of that in action. Corrupt politicians and people sought to enslave an emergent race of people simply because they were different and useful. The people when they discovered these machinations did not stand for it. And thus the second American Civil War. And it cost them a great deal to exert their will. But they did it still. They stood for their ideals. For the freedoms they extol. Do you think the Japanese people would not rise up against Yamagato if they had reason to?"

"Simply because it comes at a cost does not mean one should overlook applying the credit afforded by previous sacrifices," Asi replies stoically, reaching for a head of broccoli to stow into a thin plastic bag ripped from a wheel of them. She shakes the baggie out without any vigor, twisting the top closed once the item is placed inside. Alvin's views, as pointed as they are, are well-selected as well. The slight regarding Yamagato's purpose being purer than the government earns him a pointed look out of the corner of her eye before the broccoli is added to the rest of the cart.

"It is folly to expect perfection out of humanity in any thing. We always strive for better. You're correct — oversight is only as useful as those who oversee it. And so long as there is a goal in mind, with specifics, it is entirely attainable to improve even when advised by an imperfect director. Ultimately, to become exactly like any entity providing oversight is not the goal, after all." Asi nods, adding a little drily, "And following your logic, should poor or manipulative advice be received, there is simply 'following your will' to ignore it and stand up against it."

She turns to consider Alvin for a moment, studying him at his last question. "A theoretical one should hope to not have to answer, for it would mean a reason had indeed been given." is how she chooses to acknowledge it, nudging her cart forward to stand in line for checkout.

When Asi gives him that pointed look there might be another ghost of a smile on her shadow's lips, there for a moment then gone again. He remains quiet for a time, listening to her speak, not offering any rebuttal, simply dipping his head to her statements. The last though that earns her a curious look. "Would it though?" He arches a brow at her again, a slower motion this time than the last.

"And what if the people rose against the Japanese government? Would you defend the government? Even though you know it is the will of the people that it be cast down? What if what the government did does not seem an issue in your eyes or a reason for the people to cast it down. Would you stand in the way of the Japanese people? Would you stand aside and let the will of the people rule? Or would you defend the government? Again hopefully not a question that will ever need answering. But the people of the United States have very recently had that question answered. And admittedly in their case it was a very clear case of right and wrong. But often such issues are not at all so clear. It is very much a matter of perspective. You may see the Japanese government's actions as a necessary thing. But the people do not. But I digress. Greatly. And I thank you for indulging my digression. I do not think things are ever black and white. Only many many shades of gray."

Throughout the course of the conversation, it's become apparent to Asi that though she and Alvin might walk alongside each other they walk on opposite sides of a razor-thin but deep trench. There's some mirth visible in her expression as he poses the hypothetical about a Japanese rebellion against the government, though she doesn't go as far as to shake her head to cast off the possibility of that idea.

No, it was just just a very funny question to her. What would she do?

"You're right," she concedes tangentially. "We operate in a grayscale world. One some people prefer to see lighter or darker based on their employ, and sometimes based on their own beliefs. Or sometimes, just for the sake of going against the grain." Her hand disappears into her pocket to grab her phone, readying to tap to pay for her order.

"This one's on me," Asi nods to indicate the flour. "For the interesting conversation."

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