Students of Japanese are often Japanese-as-a-second-language (JSL) cavemen. JSL cavemen live a mostly pleasant existence of blissful ignorance, using a devolved form of the language as best they can. However, JSL cavemen are not total ignoramuses — their thick hide can be penetrated by awkward social encounters, notably by laughter.

The first time I went to Japan, I was a JSL caveman, and I was interning at a propeller company in Okayama. I did market research for the company's ceramics division, which used propeller design software to make luxury ceramic lighting for new houses (which seems very Japanese somehow).

The division was small, so there were morning meetings every day, and I was charged with delivering a short explanation of my activities, which sometimes included accompanying my supervisor on sales calls.