That's how it started.
Our paths crossed, several metres apart, on the shared common area in front of our South Auckland flats three weeks into level 4.
We talked about the rubbish weather and how lockdown sucked.
And then I caught myself.
I was about to ask if they'd had the jab yet.
Covid-19 vaccination status has, for me, and since the unwelcome arrival of the Delta variant in Auckland last month, become part of the socially distanced water-cooler conversation among friends, family and colleagues.
It helps that I'm fairly certain all have either rolled up their sleeves, or booked to do so.
Beyond a friendly wave and the occasional small talk though, I don't know my neighbours, a young couple who moved into our block of flats this year.
Level 4 cost both their jobs, but that doesn't necessarily tell me how large Covid-19's direct impact on health looms in their young lives.
We live not just in outbreak-central Auckland, but one of the city's seven "suburbs of interest" to Government health officials.
Our local supermarkets regularly pop in and out of the Ministry of Health's locations of interest list, joined, this week, by a dairy at the end of our street.
And beyond our suburb, stopping the spread of Covid-19, with its intertwined health, social and economic impacts, is costing our country greatly.
Still, is it any of my damn business whether my neighbours are on the way to being double jabbed?
I'm not the only one nervously inching closer to that uncomfortable place where individual choices meet collective consequences, and water-cooler talk's always one step ahead of decision-makers first, tentative moves on health orders or vaccine passports.
We're already wondering what our future will look like when most Kiwis are vaccinated against Covid-19.
Vax status is the new social chat, albeit often via the faux distance of Zoom or Facebook.
But not everybody wants a seat on Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's "year of the vaccine" train.
Will vaxxed or not soon be our new source of social conflict?
Where do we stand?
"Not trying to start a war here," Nicky Pellegrino wrote in a post to her Facebook friends this month asking if they, too, had been thinking about the "brave new post-Covid world, once fortress Aotearoa's borders open".
"Will you have unvaccinated friends over to dinner? Invite them to a family party? Go to an unvaccinated dentist or hairdresser?
"How will you find out whether these people have been vaccinated if it's something you feel strongly about or you're immune suppressed and at higher risk … just wondering how we're going to navigate everyday life."
While some of the Auckland author's friends weren't worried - saying their own vaccination status protected them - several shared Pellegrino's concerns, with some already considering switching away from service providers they know to be anti-vax or worrying how to navigate vaccination resistance from staff in their own businesses.
Some wrote of family or friends who won't be vaccinated, and their looming dread about conversations ahead.
"It's a minefield," replied one.
"Anger and hurt feelings, maybe permanent rifts, versus the very real possibility of getting ill with the further possibility of long Covid. How do you negotiate?"
They already are overseas.
Letters to the New York Times' The Ethicist columnist offer a peek at the high-wire act some are carefully traversing to maintain personal and professional relationships amid the vaccination divide, which is particularly pronounced in the US.
"Can I ask co-workers if they've had the Covid vaccine?" asks one.
"As a doctor, may I refuse to see unvaccinated patients?" writes another, while others want to know if they can get the children of anti-vax relatives jabbed or what to do about unvaccinated students at school.
Even the ultimate people-pleaser - the wedding - isn't immune, with overseas media reporting cases of unvaccinated guests unceremoniously scratched from invitation lists.
Kiwis will soon face the same tough calls, Pellegrino says, prompting her post to her online community.
"Like everything, we're surfing the wave behind. So, we've got a little more time to think about it, but I think it's going to be tricky.
"It's a really ethical thing we're going to have to grapple with, and we'll all have to decide where we stand, and some people might not know that yet."
From the living room to the shop - the conversation has begun
The 9696 people who follow Paul Brislen on Twitter know.
Hours before Auckland ticked over into level 3 this week, he fired an online warning shot to any unvaccinated friends or family considering popping round after the next level drop.
"Just to be clear, anyone coming over to visit in L2 or L1 will need to be vaccinated or they can stay outside, right?" Brislen, a long-time tech commentator, wrote.
"I have two asthmatics in the house and me with a shit immune system. So there's that."
Already "vaccinated against hurt feelings", the Telecommunications Carriers Forum boss says he's happy to be at the vanguard of a discussion some might find awkward.
"I've got non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, so my immune system is pretty rubbish, and I've got two people here with asthma.
"So, we've always been particularly cautious about health ... [protecting ourselves from] Covid is just another layer of that."
He's had little pushback but suspects that's because "most people ignore me".
Expect a bit more noise if Auckland hospo boss Sam Ansley goes ahead with his planned no jab, no entry rules at Everybody's bar and restaurant, and next-door Roxy nightclub.
As well as encouraging his own staff and suppliers to be vaccinated, the business owner will expect patrons to be.
They'll get a month's notice, shared online, once it's clear when Auckland's going to level 2, after which both venues can reopen.
When that deadline passes, anyone without proof of at least one jab will be turned away, just as the underage and intoxicated already are.
"If you're vehemently opposed to getting a vaccine, cool. But the flipside is potentially going to be, don't expect to be invited to everything you want to be invited to, or allowed into everywhere you want to be allowed into.
"For me … all I'm trying to do is get vaccination rates up in those that are 20 to 40, because that's where we're lagging a bit and those guys need a bit of a push, to say, 'If you don't get vaccinated, then you're not going to be able to be around lots of people doing really fun things for a lot of the time.'"
The good times aren't limited to the downtown nightlife.
Tinder users have already started adding their vaccination status to their profiles on the online dating app, one user says.
"I've noticed it in the last six months. It's not super common, but definitely noticeable."
Some profile descriptions noting vaccination status in relation to the word "shot" are too x-rated for the Weekend Herald to print, but others are family newspaper-friendly.
"I've been jabbed so Covid free," writes one, while another has taken care to add "vaccinated" alongside other appealing attributes such as being "house-trained".
The Herald is championing vaccination rates of more than 90 per cent, launching The 90% Project last week.
The Government has shied away from openly setting vaccination targets, although Ardern said this week she wants 90 per cent of Aucklanders to have received at least one dose before the next alert level decision on October 4, and Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson backed the Herald campaign.
Since The 90% Project launch, director general of health Ashley Bloomfield has said the country should be aiming to pass 90 per cent - an ambitious rate compared to global full vaccination standards, which ranges in the West from the US' 53 per cent to Portugal's 80 per cent.
A vaccination rate of at least 90 per cent means choices for managing Covid-19 beyond the current use of lockdowns, and he wants to be part of that along with other hospitality venues, Ansley says.
Owner of Headquarters bar in Auckland's Viaduct Basin Leo Molloy has previously said he intends only to serve vaccinated customers after reopening, and Ansley says most of the about 30 fellow hospitality operators he's spoken to agree that - except for those with health conditions preventing vaccination - the unvaccinated be kept out.
"It's not just hospitality either, it's retail shops too."
Anti-vaxxers need to stop thinking about freedom "in a really limited context", Ansley says.
"What about the freedom of the rest of us to be out of lockdown, to be able to go to a bar and be around people we don't know - singing, music's playing, getting a beer. What about those freedoms?"
And the wider conversation's only growing, Ansley says, with a friend's parents even threatening Christmas.
"They said, 'If you're not vaccinated, you can forget coming to Christmas.' [My friend] was chuckling, because they were gonna get vaccinated anyway."
The same parents have already stopped inviting unvaccinated friends into their home, Ansley says.
"I remember the Springbok Tour in 1981, and it's starting to have that kind of vibe around it. It's quite polarising … and it's going right into the living room, and those discussions are already being provoked, irrespective of the fact there's not widespread infection in the community or a massive amount of people in hospital, and there are not the deaths.
"Those conversations are happening and they're at the dining table, they're at the retail stores, they're at the bars."
Our rights aren't what we think they are
We might be talking about navigating life among the unvaccinated. But can we do anything about it?
Our homes are our castles - we can welcome, or not, whoever we want.
But what about places like Ansley's downtown restaurant and bar, and its neighbouring nightclub?
They can refuse entry, Ansley says, as long as doing so doesn't breach the Human Rights Act, which protects against discrimination on the basis of things such as race, age and sexual orientation.
There's a balance in all human rights, and it's between those of your own and others, human rights barrister Dr Tony Ellis says.
"There's a major misunderstanding from people who say, 'The Bill of Rights says I've got the right to freedom of movement,' but all these rights are subject to other rights - like right to life, right to health and so on.
"And in New Zealand, unlike most other major Western democracies, our Bill of Rights doesn't override legislation, so Covid legislation [such as health orders] is quite capable of trumping the Bill of Rights. We don't have an entrenched Bill of Rights that is supreme law."
He hasn't been contacted by anyone regarding vaccination status, but last week fielded a call from a North Shore pastor wanting to challenge the closure of churches in level 4 because they said it was interfering with their freedom of religion, Ellis says.
"[We know] there was an English case that supported that. But the rights in England are greater than they are here."
Someone will challenge no jab, no entry moves such as Ansley's but if the Government brings in health orders allowing public and private facilities to refuse entry to unvaccinated people Ellis doubts any challenge will be successful.
"You could argue they've been discriminated against on the basis of a physical illness, but is it reasonable to refuse to let you in? In the current situation, the answer to that may well be yes."
So far, the Government hasn't indicated any moves to change laws to restrict unvaccinated Kiwis access to public and private places.
That's not the case overseas.
In Israel, the first jurisdiction to introduce a vaccine passport, the "Green Pass" proof of vaccination - or evidence of either Covid-19 recovery or recent negative test - is needed to enter gyms, hotels, theatres, concerts and indoor dining areas and bars.
Vaccine passports have also become a way of life in some EU countries, including France, where a July law change required adults to present a "pass sanitaire" before going into
restaurants, cafes, museums, theatres and sports stadiums.
New York City has also mandated vaccination for certain public spaces — the first government in the US to do so - while closer to home New South Wales will, with the introduction of a vaccine passport from next month and once a 70 per cent vaccination rate is reached, allow freedoms, mostly relating to retail, recreation and gatherings, for those jabbed.
In Victoria, where residents have endured months of rolling lockdowns, premier Daniel Andrews has been particularly blunt about what life will soon be like for those who won't be vaccinated.
"There is going to be a vaccinated economy, and you get to participate in that if you are vaccinated."
At work and play
Our Government might be staying mum for now, but that's not to say questions over vaccination mandates haven't reached the halls of power.
The parliamentary precinct was abuzz Wednesday morning with word Speaker Trevor Mallard was looking to restrict some access to Parliament to those who hadn't had their Covid-19 vaccination.
It could be a requirement that if a job can be done from outside the building, then an unvaccinated staffer does that, Mallard told Newsroom, which also reported the Speaker had sought legal advice on his options regarding unvaccinated workers.
The Herald reported this week all 120 MPs had either received at least one vaccine dose, or were booked to, but many more work in Parliament including parliamentary staffers and media.
Some workers are already subject to compulsory vaccination orders, including MIQ and border workers - Government employees by August 26 and non-Government by this Thursday.Mandatory vaccination for the health workforce is also being considered after a significant disparity in district health board staff vaccination levels emerged this week - the three Auckland health boards have rates in the high 80s but other parts of the country are barely over 60 per cent and - on the South Island's West Coast - fewer than half are double-vaxxed.
Basketballer Tai Webster was also let out of his freshly signed two-year Breakers contract after refusing to be vaccinated, making his inclusion untenable as the side prepares to spend much of its 2021/22 ANBL season in Australia.
That's the big leagues, but what about the little leagues?
Kiwi kids can't get the Pfizer jab yet, although health boss Bloomfield said this week overseas vaccine trials in the 5-11 age group are "promising", and regulators here will quickly approve Pfizer for kids if results remain favourable.
What then for the thousands of kids who, at level 2 and below, play weekend sport? Could clubs mandate vaccination?
Their hardworking mums and dads face the same question if they want to start a new job.
Employers can require new employees to have been vaccinated against Covid-19 if they wish, Workplace Relations Minister Michael Wood told Parliament's education and workforce select committee last month.
Existing employees, except those such as border workers whose roles are covered by mandatory vaccination health orders, can't be forced to have the jab to keep their job.
In the US, where almost 700,000 have died of Covid-19, more than a dozen large corporations, including Walmart, Google and United Airlines, have vaccine mandates for some or all workers.
But the Government, along with National, is against compulsory vaccination orders, Wood said last month, and neither business nor unions had been pushing for them.
Employers here do have an obligation to provide a safe and healthy workplace, though.
What if some staff baulk at the risk posed by their unvaccinated colleagues?
Why we should talk about it
Employer-employee conversations likely need to be handled with care, but general chat about vaccination - like with the neighbour you don't really know - doesn't have to be a big deal.
"We should normalise those discussions", Tim Dare, University of Auckland professor of philosophy says.
"It's important this doesn't become one of those topics you're not allowed to talk about."
Mutual respect on both sides, recognising there are different views while also recognising there's substantial support for vaccination, is the way forward, Dare says.
"I think this is a bit like sexual orientation. There's a time in the not too distant past where people had to be very careful about revealing sexual orientation … and we've moved beyond that."
People might still choose not to answer, and they shouldn't be badgered for that, especially as some might have medical conditions preventing them from being vaccinated.
But not answering also meant facing potential consequences, Dare, who works in applied ethics, including relating to medicine, says.
He faced that when his daughter told him he couldn't visit his newborn grandchild unless he'd been vaccinated against pertussis [whooping cough].
"I think that's absolutely the right thing to say, go Kelly. And Covid has made this vaccine a matter of legitimate interest to everybody at the same time.
"It's like the national version of my daughter's legitimate interest in knowing whether I've had a pertussis vaccine before I visit her newborn. And I don't have to answer her, but I am morally bound that if I don't answer her, and I haven't had the vaccine, I'd better not visit."
He loves the message given by the parents of hospitality boss Ansley's friend.
"Good on them. I would say that as a kind of joke, but I would mean it too. Come Christmas, people who're not vaccinated better have a pretty good reason."
Straight talk's the way forward, not fuelling anti-vaxxers by giving them the idea vaccination is a "terribly controversial political issue".
"Because otherwise the nutters, the Billy what's his name [Te Kahika jr], will just buy into this and say, 'Oh yes, it's like the Springbok Tour, this is our Mururoa moment.'
"And we need to say to them, 'bulls***'. This is a public health initiative."
Some might be fearing awkward conversations ahead - banning unvaccinated grandma from Christmas, finding a new dentist because yours is anti-vax or ditching your favourite cafe because they won't say if staff have been jabbed.
But not Brislen, the tech expert who tweeted his pre-emptive stay-away message to the great unvaxxed.
He hasn't had any harsh feedback, but he's also not surprised. Because he doesn't think there will, in time, be a great unvaxxed.
"I think we're going to hit 90 per cent vaccination of the whole population, and that will grow to 95, 98 per cent. I think the only people who won't will be for health reasons.
"I don't believe for a minute all these people out there saying, 'It's a Government plot, I'll never get the jab.' That'll rapidly fall by the wayside when they realise … all they can't do."
'Have you had the jab?'
I haven't seen my neighbours since that chat on our common front lawn almost three weeks ago.
It's like that in level 4, and even level 3, where Auckland moved mid-week.
But when I do, I'll ask them, 'Have you had the jab?'
That's what I wanted to say almost three weeks ago, when I'd had my own shot the day before and discovered, after months where vaccines were out of reach to most of us, you could simply walk in and a few minutes later start the process towards safety from a virus which, globally, has killed close to the same number of us who call New Zealand home.
I wanted to tell anyone who'd listen.
But it probably doesn't matter now.
Jab doors are open everywhere, even on the move. Shot bro!
This week 80 per cent of us Aucklanders aged 12 and over have received at least one dose.
There's every chance the young couple two doors down are among them.