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If you work in a mall, or in a place in which many different kinds of people work, you know what I’m talking about.

You’ll be on your lunch break, walking around, smoking a cigarette, talking on the phone – whatever you do to relax yourself during that one hour of freedom. You’ll be minding your own business, when suddenly, that dude that works at Burger King passes by. Instinctively --without even thinking-- you look at him, and you nod. And he nods back.

He need not be the guy that works at Burger King. Maybe he’s the manager of the electronics store or a technician from the nearby computer repair shop. Maybe she runs a clothing store, or mans the produce aisle at the supermarket. It doesn’t matter.

The Working Man’s Nod is a gesture of understanding. It says “Hey, don’t let The Man get you down” or “Don’t let those customers get to you.” It’s silent communication between paid-by-the-hour-workers. A way to indicate that you’re in the same boat. A simple otsukaresama.

Otsukaresama - This is a Japanese phrase whose meaning lies somewhere between "You must be tired" and "Good work." It's a verbal pat on the back for a job well done.

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