Retail Workers From Around The World Share Their Favorite Work Stories

Retail Workers From Around The World Share Their Favorite Work Stories

Most of us have had to work a retail job at one point or another. It can be a grind out there: having to smile and act happy and gleefully comply with outrageous requests from obnoxious customers. But sometimes people can also surprise you and buck up your spirits with their random jokes and acts of kindness.

Good or bad, these folks recently went online to share their favorite stories from their retail jobs. Cleanup in aisle 7!

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25. Tip for tat

So I used to work at an ice cream chain where we prepared the ice cream with various toppings on a frozen piece of rock.

On this particular day, I was working with one other person and it wasn't too busy. Two young guys came in, about high school age. They ordered a large bowl of ice cream with a few toppings, I mixed it for them and went to ring them up. I'll use use G for guy, since I really just talked to one of them.

Me: Okay, so that'll be $x.xx.

G: Okay, I have a gift card.

Me: Great! ...So it looks like you owe another $0.36 after the gift card.

At that point, they both look at each other and shrug sadly.

G: Oh...I'm sorry, I don't have any money with me, never mind....

It's cool, only $0.36. So I take the $0.36 out of the tip jar and put it in the till. No big deal!

G: Wow, thanks!

The two guys leave, and I thought that was that. Felt good doing something nice.

So the one guy comes back several hours later. I saw him come in, and went to the register to meet him.

Me: Oh hey! You're back. Did you need anything el--

Before I finished, and without looking at me once or saying a word, he dropped a $20 bill in the jar and immediately turned and left.

I was so shocked I just stared after him until he walked out the door.

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24. What a pair of cards

I work in a small, locally owned toy shop in little college town, however we have a lot of down to earth people and families.

Couple comes in with three kids and immediately the kids go crazy, wanting to show their parents every single toy in the store.

It's a small store but is broken into three distinct sections, rooms connected by walkways. We have a card rack next to the cash wrap that has all sorts of cards.

As the wife is being dragged by her kids around the store, the husband comes up to me and quietly goes, "Don't let my wife see, we are big fans." He slides me this Star Wars themed card and the cash to pay for it. I quietly make small talk with him about the weather and ring him up. I finish just in time as his wife and kids walk around and then grab their dad to go beg and ask for toys.

I'm chatting with the mom and she sees a card on the card rack and says, "This would be perfect for [husband] but don't let him see this," and slides me cash, finishes the transaction and winks. It's the exact same card.

They finish their shopping, purchase a few toys for their three kids and walk out, both chuckling to themselves about how clever they are.

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23. Two Diet Cokes

Worked at a fast food chain when I was in high school. Many stories to be had about the work, but the only one really worth mentioning is a happy one.

One of our recurring customer groups was "the Diet Coke ladies". Every afternoon, they would come through the drive thru and order 2 medium Diet Cokes. It was two older ladies, with their dogs in the back of their little Rav 4. Always nice, always wanting only 2 medium Diet Cokes. Occasionally, if things were super slow, we'd have a little chat as they paid (only a minute or two), and they would drive up to the second window for their drinks. Everyone in the store knew them, and you just had to shout "Diet Coke ladies are here!" and the person up front would get the drinks ready.

As I was getting ready to go to college in a couple weeks, I happened to mention it to them. They were glad for me, and wished me well.

Two days later, they came through the drive-thru per usual, but when they paid, they also handed me a little box, wrapped with a little silk ribbon. Inside was a silver pen, and engraved on the side was "2 Medium Diet Cokes".

They told me they wanted me to pass my first test with it.

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22. A kind gesture

So I work at a pet store, my family owns it. We do boarding, daycare, training, grooming and retail.

I had a regular come in a few months back he wasn't doing to well financially since becoming disabled. He brought in his dog for grooming and I noticed he had large amount of fleas. I called and informed him, letting him know that I would give his other dog a flea bath for cheap so he could take care of it.

Once he got there he tried to pay with a credit card that the state had given him. Unfortunately, we don't take that card. So he gave me his card information so I could charge him when he got paid. I sent with him with some flea and tick topical we sell over the counter.

Well the day came for me to run his card, he called me to remind me. I thanked him, got off the phone and didn't charge him.

Today he called realizing he hadn't been charged, I told him I didn't plan on charging him and was happy to be able to help. He couldn't talk for a bit, trying to compose himself. I got off the phone knowing I had made someone's day better.

I know how hard it can be living on disability, my mom is on it. Sometimes even the littlest of things can help.

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21. A parting gift

Our store was liquidating to shut down and we were in our final days. We were no longer giving refunds on goods that customers had simply changed their mind on. It was incredibly stressful and customers were being outright rude despite the fact that everyone they were dealing with was being made redundant in days.

One day a chap came in and asked if we could refund a suitcase he bought and changed his mind on. He swapped it for a few other things but he was still short by about ten bucks or so. I prepared myself for today's shake down and told him I was very sorry he couldn't have any money back but we were still exchanging if he wanted something to the value. He started pilling sweets, biscuits, cakes onto the counter and asking if they added up to the difference. Eventually we were still about 10 cents short. I told him we weren't quite there but we didn't have anything for 10 cents so it was the best I could do. His response?

"I think you'll have trouble enough eating all of that! Cheerio!" And off he went, leaving me with a giant pile of free food.

Closing the store was an incredibly stressful time but I'll always remember that friendly dude.

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20. Lost in translation

I work at BBQ shop here in Australia. I've dealt with all kinds of customers in my 3 years of experience until today I had the most memorable experience yet.

Today I had two Chinese men walk in who looked to be in their early 20's or so. They walked around for a bit before I approached them and asked if they needed any help. It suddenly became clear they didn't know a word of English when one pulled out his phone and started using a translator. Soon fleshed out they were looking at a BBQ we have in stock and some accessories. After about 25 minutes going back and forth with the translator they had all they wanted. Normally this transaction only takes about 5-10 minutes on average but I didn't mind as we were all being patient with each other.

I rang up all the items and showed them a full break down of the items which totaled around $500. I had all the products ready to go in a pile next to the register when he finished paying. When it was all finalized, he leaned in to shake my hand and said in perfect English: "Oh, just so you know, we speak perfect English, mate"

Both these men erupt into laughter while I'm sitting shaking my head and laughing as well wondering how did I fall for it. After we all slowly regained ourselves one of the men leaned in and said how well I took it. Honestly, I know they wasted my time, but it totally made my week.

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19. Accursed cursive

In college, I worked for a floral shop that shared a space with a bakery. We had the space for both businesses to operate and it naturally was a good partnership.

This story takes place near the end of my senior year. I was six weeks shy of graduating with two degrees. Although I cared about the stores and wanted them to do well, my nonsense-tolerance had dropped significantly. One day, a woman came to me for balloons for her son's 2nd birthday party. She had already picked up her cake.

Woman (grumpily tossing her balloon choices at me): Ugh, I can't believe the bakery.

Me: Oh, is there something wrong?

Woman: Yes! LOOK at this cake!

She opens the box. It's a nice looking cake, decorated with icing and trains. A scrolling script says: "Happy 2nd Birthday Jackson!"

Me: ...


Me: I think it's a lovely ca-


Me: Oh...well, it'll take me a couple minutes to fill these balloons. I bet you could take it back, and they could scrape off the old lettering, re-frost the blank space, and rewrite it for you.

Woman (clearly hasn't heard a word I said): I CAN'T BELIEVE SOMEONE IS SO STUPID TO THINK THIS IS OKAY!

Me (yelling above her): CAN YOUR SON EVEN READ?!

She immediately fell silent, blushed a deep purple, and was silent while I filled her balloons. She paid without a word.

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18. Who's the boss

A long time ago, in a galaxy far away, I was a young soldier. I loved the army. I wanted to make it my career. I did it for a long time.

I got injured. I couldn't do the job I was trained on anymore. So I got out and looked for other jobs.

I do medical screening now. I'm older than everyone but two people in the entire building.

My immediate supervisor is 24. She's fairly young.

A person didn't like her vitals and insisted that my boss did them wrong. There was absolutely no way her blood pressure was that high. You don't know what you're doing. That kind of BS.

I came back from a break and this woman points at me and goes, "I want your boss doing it. Him! You! Show her how to do this."

I said, "Lady, she's my boss."

She goes, "I don't have time for this. Read my vitals and deal with her after."

My boss kind of smiled and I took her seat. I ran vitals again, and got the same result. I said, "Well, I got the same result. Unfortunately, I need a supervisor to sign off on a correction. Let me get my boss".

I stood up, and turned to her and said, "Hey, when you get a chance, can you confirm these corrections?"

She said, "Yeah, I'm going to take a 10 minute break, but as soon as I get back, I'll knock that out."

"Sorry, Ma'am. I can't overrule my boss."

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17. The budget boys

A mother just came into my (very small) retail store with her three preteen kids. Normally this spells disaster.

However, these kids each had a couple of $20's and thoughtfully looked through the items in the store before selecting something, bringing it up to the register, buying it with the money from their pockets, and being extremely polite. As they left the register, the mom told the kids, "Make sure you save your receipts so we can budget tonight." One of the kids replied, "I always keep my receipts," in the most polite way possible.

Good on that mom for teaching her kids the value of money and financial planning. Just wanted to share because unlike most of the dross that comes through, they made my day genuinely better!

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16. "I have places to be"

Lady was talking to a friend of hers while making eye contact with me the whole time. I was on the cash.

Her friend asked her what she was doing. "I'm discarding what I don't want." She was leaving miscellaneous food items on the jewelry counter, and then promptly got in my line. I asked her, "Can you bring me those items you just discarded on the jewelry?" I don't like my store looking like a disaster. She snakily replies, "No, not right now, I have places to be."

She places her items on my counter, as I just stand there looking at her. She asks if I'm going to ring her up, I reply, "No... not right now." I step out from behind the till, walk slowly over to the jewelry counter and pick up the items in question. I take my time putting them in the returns cart. Nothing else is said during the transaction.

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15. It's so sad that some people feel the only ones who care about them are retail workers

I work at a technology retailer as a technology sales associate.

Today, a man who earlier today bought ink for his inkjet printer was looking for a laser printer alternative. I went up to him and asked what he was looking for, in hopes of finding the best possible printer for him. After roughly 10-15 mintues of friendly back-and-forth, we pick-out a few that would work perfectly for him. I assumed this new printer isn't a top priority considering he'd bought ink earlier. Since none of our printers were on sale, I told him I'd write down some dates the printers will most likely be going on sale.

He looked pretty happy about that and thanked me.

I proceeded to write down all the printers we decided would work for him, every possible sale day in the next month, prices of toner, and what each of the important notes were for each printer.

I go to hand him my note, and he's wiping tears off his face.

Me: Are you alright, sir?

Him: Yeah, I just haven't felt cared for very much recently... I went in for surgery earlier this month, and nobody so much as gave me a phone call. Thank you for spending this time with me today, I appreciate it.

I took my break right after that because I was about to start tearing up too.


14. Someone spent too much time listening to their dad's rants

I work at a fairly popular paint supply store. I love my job and the people I work with. While I'm there, I'm allowed to have my tattoos showing, as long as they're not offensive or obnoxious.

During the middle of the day, my usual customers are general contractors and foremen. This particular day, I had a long sleeved shirt on under my work shirt which covered my tattoos. Well, as I was helping on particular contractor, I decided to roll my sleeves up because it was getting warm in the store from all of my running around, trying to get this order done.

He takes one look at my arm tattoos and flips out on me, calling me a hippy and so many other insults. Now, I can take some heat for it because I'm a pretty well-mannered dude. However the best insult came as I was ringing him out. This guy told me "go get a job" as I was ringing him out.

He told me to go get a job, while I was at my job, taking his money.

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13. This girl is the hero we need

I work in a grocery store and the bane of my existence is people putting their grocery baskets away incorrectly. We have a pile for them to be stacked onto, but people don't care, it's usually left alone while their baskets are placed to the side, or inconveniently in a way that hinders anyone else's basket.

Last Friday, a mother comes in and does just that. She places her basket into the pile halfway, with one half in and another half out, making the pile look awful.

Her 7 year old daughter sees her do this, and stares at the basket. She turns to her mother and loudly says "What is that? You think that's acceptable?" Her mother sheepishly fixed the basket and that girl became my hero.

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12. Kid's gonna have a chip on his shoulder

I was bagging groceries last night when a lady came through with a baby in a car seat in the basket of her cart. She had a LOT of groceries that I'm assuming she'd had under and around the car seat, so when I bagged them I was putting them back under and around the car seat. I wasn't sure where else to put them if not there, right? It's not like I could put them on top of the baby, right?

Well. As I'm placing stuff carefully under Baby, Baby's mom says, "Oh hun, you can just put some of this stuff on top of him," and pats the canopy.

The phrase "but ma'am that's a baby" almost escapes me but I choke it down, nod, and continue putting stuff under the baby, under the cart, in the seat of the cart, etc. At this point the cashier (my favorite cashier) is trying and failing not to laugh at both the absurdity of me being told to put groceries on a baby, and my increasingly desperate attempts at finding places for the bags.

I got all but a bag of chips squared away, and there was just no more room, so as they walked away I set the bag of chips on top of the car seat, turned back to the cashier and whispered in horror "I put the chips on the baby." Which I believe is the most absurd thing I've said on the job so far.

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11. Shame on whoever raised you

I'm a cart pusher and I don't deal with tons of customers. I did have a woman flip out and call me an idiot, but honestly I feel this was worse.

I saw these two girls, probably 17-19 years old, putting their cart up on the curb instead of a corral. I went over and said I would take it. What does one of them do? She shoves the cart so it rolls full speed, and I have to run after it while they stand there, watching me, laughing at me. One of them said "Omg, you really did that!" to the one who shoved the cart.

I was embarrassed and felt hurt by this. It ruined my night, that they decided to just make a joke out of me and my job. I am trying to feel better about it, thinking they are super immature, but this still was hurtful.

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10. A weighty issue

I worked as a bagger at a small, family-owned grocery store while I was in high school. One day a man came through the checkout with a full cart of groceries.

Me: "Paper or plastic?"

Customer: “I’d like double bagged paper and I’d like you to make each bag as heavy as you can.”

Me: "Sure thing!"

A bit of a strange request, sure, but anything that broke up the monotony of the day was welcomed. I managed to load his entire cart into three fairly heavy bags and bring them out to his car.

Customer: "In case you're wondering - I just had a fight with the wife and it's my turn to pick up the groceries."

Me: "Uh-huh."

Customer: "It's also her turn to unload the car."

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9. Natural disasters bring out the worst in people

Let me paint you a scene: There's a record breaking hurricane about to barrel it's way through your town within the week causing mass hysteria, a grocery store where half of the employees have left the state, on top of that distribution centers running on all cylinders barely able to keep up with the demand resulting in many essentials such as water and canned being out of stock, and irritated and scared customers running around the store like headless chickens.

Yeah, it's been an interesting week for me.

We've had a few incidents of fender benders in the parking lot, some of those incidents resulting in fistfights. Customers swearing up a storm because half of our shelves are empty, even though there's nothing we can do about that. More people asking us to check the mythical back room than usual. All of our carts were left scattered all over the parking lot (thanks guys) and we had no one available to get them, so people were angry about that lack of convenience. I've also, humorously, seen one guy running around with three carts full of stuff. And on top of all that everyone was mad because we closed early today and won't be opening up again until Tuesday, because clearly me and my fellow employees lives and that of our families means absolutely nothing to these animals.

On the flip side my snark was turned on for pretty much the entirety of the week, which made the week at least tolerable for me.

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8. Hear no evil

I have removed myself from the retail game about 6 months ago, but I still think fondly of this one...

I was the manager of the returns and exchanges area of a smaller computer and electronics chain (some would call it the ultimate), and I was called over to the returns area by one of our associates. I approached and saw a young college age girl with a MacBook that had an obviously cracked screen, and looking at the receipt it was less a day old. I asked her what happened and she admitted to dropping it as soon as she took it out of the box, and that she didn't get any warranties to cover the damage because she was a broke college kid and asked me if there was anything I could do for her. I

told her that I was going to walk away and come back in a minute and when I did she should tell me it was broken as soon as she took it out of the box. I came back she told me that, and we swapped it out for a new one for no charge.

The best part was this young lady came back in about two days with a tray full of the most delicious brownies and kept saying how much she appreciated everything we did for her.

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7. Be my baby

I was working drive thru and this man pulls up to the second window for me to give him his food.

He has the cutest little baby boy in the back seat, so of course, after the greetings and handing off the food, I said hi to the baby.

He had been staring intently at me and when I said hi, he immediately starts laughing and waving. He was just the cutest thing!

His dad turned around and looked at him and said, "Son, you're too young to be flirting. Stop it."

Me: D'aww, honey, I'm sorry, but I have a boyfriend. If you were like 15 years older, you could fight him for me, but right now I think he'd crush you.

And so we shared a laugh, he left, and I continued on with my work.

About an hour later, they return!

The Dad: Oh, he insisted on coming back to see you! Now remember, son, no more flirting because she has a boyfriend.

The baby just laughed and waved his chubby little arms around.

It was a good day.

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6. "You work quickly so I shouldn't have to pay you"

This happened a few years ago when I worked in a bead shop. We did jewelry repair too. Mostly simple stuff like reattaching clasps, restringing beads, or pearl knotting. Occasionally, when we weren't busy we would do repairs on the spot. Our minimum charge for any repair was $4 plus the cost of the materials.

So one day a lady comes in and she needs this necklace repaired ASAP because she wants to wear it that night at a dinner party. I saw that the necklace just needed the clasp reattached, which is something I can do in under a minute. I told her the store policy and said I could fix it for her while she waited. She seemed cool with that, so I grabbed a jump ring and reattached the clasp for her.

I rang her up and she took her necklace, leaving without a word.

The next day we got a call from the lady asking to talk to "the manager". She told the bead shop owner she was upset about having to pay $4 for the jewelry repair because I fixed it in under a minute. Her words, "Last time I checked only doctors made $4 a minute."

It's something you didn't know how to do lady. I did it quickly because I've done it five hundred and sixty-two million times. If you didn't want it fixed professionally then do it your own self.

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5. Hope you have a time machine as well

I work at a now-mostly-defunct video rental chain, one of the few franchised locations left.

Today, a lady came in reeking of the sauce and clearly hammered. So you're aware, we sell a few assorted electronics accessories at the front of the store-- chargers, styluses, etc.

Drinking lady shall henceforth be known as DL.

DL: "HEY do you have ... A uh... Um... a phone charger I can use for a few minutes?

Me: "No, but we do have chargers for sale! Right here."

DL: "Oh, awesome. I'll take one."

Me: "Okay, that'll be eight dollars."

DL: "It says five."

Me (looking at the same display she is): "It.. it says eight dollars on the display. Right there. Next to the picture."

DL: "Well I... I read five so you HAVE to sell it for five. It's like... the law."

Me: "The price is eight dollars."

DL: "Well you've just lost a customer, and I'll be calling corporate. You'll get fired."

Me: "Actually, corporate doesn't really exist anymore. You can file a complaint with the store manager on duty, if you want."

DL: "Ugh, please."

Me: "So, what's your complaint?"

She then stormed out. God it felt so good to finally be able to say something like that.


4. Can you count?

I was working the express lane (15items or fewer) at the grocery store I work at today and a woman comes up with one of our small carts packed to the brim.

Me: Excuse me, ma'am, this is an express lane for only 15 items or fewer.

Lady: I have about 17, is that ok?

Me: Are you sure that's 17? You have quite a bit.

Lady: No, I counted, it's seventeen, it's fine.

Without a response she unloads all her groceries onto the cart. I am dealing with another customer in front of her at the moment so I have no time to make a fuss.

She has a lot of items on the belt, way over 17. How inconsiderate to the people behind her. There was no use telling her to reload her cart that would take more time. I ring her up with a deadpan angry face as she smugly watched me bag her copious amount of groceries. I look at the item counter and she bought 34 items. What happened to "17" "I counted"?

Me: Ok, your thirty-four items will come to a grand total of $117.90.

I said this in my most beautifully cheery sarcastic retail voice. Her face turned bright red.

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3. No good deed...

Customer came in and attempted multiple times to purchase gas this morning but his 3 cards were all declined. I was in a good mood and won $200 on last night's scratch ticket. So I figured I'd spot him 20$ for gas. He then goes to the pump, pumps $5 and comes back inside to demand change.

C: Change from pump 3 please.

Me: What?

C: Change from pump 3. I only pumped 5$s.

Me: I offered you $20 in gas. I wasn't planning on giving you change.

C: Let me speak to a [bleeping] manager.

Me: The manager is here Monday to Friday, 5am to 8pm.

C: Give me his number.

Me: Sorry, but the company doesn't provide work phones so I can't give out his personal number.

C: Where's your Corporate number?!?!

Me: Outside on the door.

Fast forward two hours, cops show up. Cop tells me someone said there was a cashier here that was refusing to return people's change. I explain to the officer that I used my own money to help someone out but wasn't about to give them my change from the pump for gas I paid for. Officer asked to see the tapes so I call up the manager.

Irritated, he comes in on day off and shows officer the tapes. The officer apologized to the manager and left. Manager then tells me that if the guy came back to the store refuse sale and tell him he's banned from the store.

Guess it doesn't pay to be nice.

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2. My precious

I work in a fine jewelry store. This was my interaction with customers who just left.

Him: “Well we want to go get married now so we need a size 5.”

Me: “Unfortunately all our rings will be stock size 7.”

Him: “Well... what about that one on your hand.”

I hold up the men's ring they were just looking at, confused.

Me: “This is a men’s, so it’s a 10.”

He instead points at my engagement ring.

Him: "No, that one."

Me: "My engagement ring? It’s a size 5.”

Him: “Well, we will just take that. I'm the customer. And the customer is always right.”

Me: "It’s not for sale. It’s my engagement ring.”

She gets annoyed and they speak Spanish.

Him: "This is insane and we’ll just go somewhere else in that case.”

I honestly can’t...

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1. Mental magic

I used to work in store where we would ask customers if they had an account number at the check out. The number would be put in manually before putting the shopping through and the customer would get back one penny on every dollar they spent.

One day a family who I hadn't seen before came in and while the mum and kids wandered off to start shopping. The dad came over to the side of my till while I was serving customers, announced his account number and then ran off to join his family without saying anything else. OK, that was weird, I went on serving.

About 10 minutes later the family are lined up for my till. When it comes to the point where I should ask for their number the dad grins at me and I realize what's going on. Fortunately, I have a bizarrely good memory for numbers and, without skipping a beat, I reel off the one he gave me when he came in the store. The kids both gasp and their eyes go wide. They look at their dad in awe.

As I'm putting through the shopping, I hear the dad say: "See? I told you they were psychic."

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