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About seven years ago a new security guard started working at one of the several part-time universities I work at and I nodded to her in passing. She nodded back. Then a year later we were still nodding but also smiling and from a distance started to wave now and then. Push a few years forward and we started actually saying a word or two “Otsukaresama” (thanks for your work—a typical Japanese greeting and farewell). Later, I dared to pose a question “Genki?” (healthy?) and we actually exchanged some real words.