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My workplace has guards that work at our main door checking IDs and the like. In the morning we exchange cheerful おはようございますs. But I'm not sure what evening parting to use.

お先に失礼します seems out of place to me, but I can't put my finger on why. Is お疲れ様でした appropriate outside of one's work group (and given the guards will likely be working several more hours)? Would a simple ありがとうございます be better?

Most of my colleagues don't say anything at all, but this seems impossibly rude to my internal American...

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    お疲れ様でした was the first thing that came to mind for me, too (but I'm also American). I totally relate to the "internal American" thing. I can't stand not saying "thanks" (どうも, if I manage to stop myself from ありがとう) every time I get served something at a restaurant, which isn't really a thing in Japanese culture AFAICT. – Micah Cowan Jul 14 at 10:07
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Your take is basically right. お先に失礼します doesn’t work that well because it would essentially a little unexpected — it is a given that you would leave before the guards, and plus, it’s not like the guards know or need to know you’re leaving for the day the Xth time you walk past them. お疲れ様でした doesn’t work perfectly because they aren’t near the end of their shift.

お疲れ様です does work, but isn’t exactly a parting greeting, just a polite thing to say (but even then not that common for the following reason).

Saying nothing is the standard, and honestly it has to do with hierarchy dynamic that the guards are serving you (same with receptionists) so there is no need to be chummy from your end to someone providing a service (in fact many people in such formal service positions do not know how to respond to it). Like it or not, that’s the prevailing tacit understanding most people have (though younger people are probably a little less in this camp).

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  • Do you think that the standard when entering the building on morning would also be saying nothing, rather than おはようございます? – jarmanso7 Jul 16 at 10:49
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    Hmm, I feel either is acceptable in the case of おはようございます, since that is more scripted. – Darius Jahandarie Jul 16 at 10:51

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