Bruni Interview and The NY City Food & Wine Fesitival.

Frank Bruni, the food critic for the NY Times, interviewed me for an article in his Critic’s Notebook titled Old Gender Roles with Your Dinner? Basically the article is about how male and female diners are treated differently in restaurants. I am quoted as saying, “Men eat and leave. Women eat and stick around” and “Waiters are guilty of treating female diners as second-class citizens.” A sommelier countered my claim saying “top-notch servers consider it a challenge to do the best for — and thus coax the most from — any table they’re given, and don’t see any advantage in showering less enthusiasm on a group of women.” I think that server spent too much time drinking the hospitality Kool-Aid. Hasn’t she ever heard about the not getting blood from a stone thing? There’s only so much you can “coax” out of a table of chicken caesar salads with water and lemon! Oh well, maybe I’m just a bitter ex server!” In any case, don’t everyone start accusing me of misogyny. Hey! Some of my best tips have been from female customers. I just wish they take less than four hours to eat sometimes! Many thanks to Mr. Bruni for including me in the discussion!

I’d also like to point out that on I’ll be doing a book reading and discussion at the New York City Wine & Food Festival on October 11th. Tickets are still available. The entire festival runs from the October 9th to the 12th.  Check it out!

P.S.  Here’s a postscript from Bruni on his Diner’s Journal blog.

54 thoughts on “Bruni Interview and The NY City Food & Wine Fesitival.”

  1. Sunny says:

    gotta agree with you there, mate.

  2. O.C. says:

    Dude, the studies I’ve seen show that men are much more talkative than women. It’s just that society’s perception doesn’t match reality.

  3. Carroll says:

    Please, oh please come to California for a book signing sometime. I would drive a vast distance to get your scribbles inside my copy of Waiter Rant 🙂

  4. Mertseger says:

    As per O.C., yeah, that women speaking more than men thing is pretty much the opposite of scientific fact. See this post at Language Log, for instance. That’s not to say your point is not valid: women’s social behavior might be different in restaurants than men’s. Women might well prefer to talk more than eat in a restaurant (I know: shocking!).

    Finished reading the book last week, and thoroughly enjoyed it, btw.

  5. Mary says:

    Dude, you have given me (a woman) an enormous amount of personal relief. I hoover in my food, and when I eat out alone (reasonably frequently – us NY’ers eat out more often than not), I anxiously check my watch so that if it’s taken me less than 15 or 20 to finish, I freak out and think the waitstaff must think I’m an awful human being. I am so glad to know it’s not true. Now I’m gonna just hoover and leave and not feel bad!

  6. red says:

    You know, in one breath you ask people not to accuse you of misogyny and then in the very next breath, you say “some of my best tippers are female!” and after such a fine compliment, proceed to wish how women could improve.

    Insert your race of choice or perhaps gay people, and you’d be rightfully called a racist or homophobe.

    This is the best kind of misogyny though. It’s the kind where your heart was in the right place and no one thinks you’re a monster because you were trying. You’re still in the un-educated spectrum of the sensitivity category though.

  7. J says:

    Mertseger, I think it would be interesting to see how much women spoke in comparison to men with someone they know and with as much time to speak as they like. That study is different in sitting in a restaurant in that at a restuarant you probably know who you are with and you decide how long to stay there. Perhaps women tend to be less talkative than men if the topic is randomly chosen and they are paired with a stranger.

  8. Toni says:

    I’m of the eat and run variety of female. Most of my friends aren’t lingerers, either. Guess we’re just too busy. And I’m a damn good tipper to boot – at least 25-30% everytime. I hate generalizations.

  9. Johnny Soprano says:

    Generalization is a vital function of your brain.

    Why can’t people realize this?

    That’s how our brain processes information so we have a better survival rate in the nature.

    Those who didn’t generalize lost their seat in the gene pool long time ago.

    You choose not to hang out in the hood after dark. That’s a result of generalization. As much as you hate it, it just makes sense.

  10. Mikefromtw says:

    Nice point Johnny.

    Look out waiter, you have been politically incorrect.

    People would rather be lied to than hear about your real thoughts and perceptions (correct or incorrect) of the situation.

    On another note:

    If that study is correct and men do speak more, then there must be a reason for that perception.

    IE what men want to talk about vs what women want men to talk about is different leading to this perception that women want to talk more. Or perhaps, it is that women want men to talk about something that men don’t enjoy talking about.

  11. mos says:

    red, I do believe he was joking.

  12. Dave says:

    The sommelier in question probably works at a big time joint where check averages are high & steady. You, on the other hand, worked at a place that serves chicken ceasar’s.

  13. Emily says:

    By the way, that’s not spam. That link is a comment to your post.

  14. Emily says:

    Okay, the first comment is stuck in moderation due to the link. Let’s see if text + link works:

  15. Waiter says:

    Oh my God! The PC police are after me! Again! This is not the first time I’ve been accused of being a tad misogynistic.

    Real restaurant servers who work in your average American restaurant know what I’m talking about!

  16. Line Cook says:

    It’s a misogynistic stereotype that often leads to misogynistic behavior. It doesn’t matter that other servers agree with it, it’s still misogynistic to say that women are bad guests and tippers. If, on the other hand, you said, “People who order entree salads generally don’t tip well,” then that would be generalizing on habits, not on gender, and so would not be misogynistic. It’s when you assert that negative stereotypes about women are true that you have a problem. And saying “some of my best ____ are women” only makes the case for misogyny.

  17. VT says:

    Line Cook and red, you need to learn the definition of misogyny. Seriously both you have no idea what you’re talking about.

    red – He stated something that he views as statistical fact through his and others experiences. You have not given a reason for why he is “insensitive” or a misogynist. If you stated that this view is incorrect and was caused by his desire for women to be worse tippers then maybe you could make that claim, but as for now you are in the “overly sensitive about issues of gender” in the sensitivity category. Have you considered that he probably felt he HAD to add that line because otherwise people would assume he was an evil misogynist instead of just him making his point without ill feelings?

    Line Cook – It is not a misogynistic stereotype if he has provided reasonable evidence of it being true. If he continued to believe it in the face of contradicotry evidence he could be a misogynist. But really, you think he hates a woman because of a general trend he observed? If anything he is just slightly annoyed that he can’t make his paycheck that night.

    So generalizing on habits is OK, but not about gender? That’s foolish. I think I can say that women spend more on haircuts and plastic surgery. Oh no! I am generalizing on gender and not habits, give me a break. Genders should be equal in the face of the law and people in general, but to say that they act the same is foolish.

    And where the heck is he “asserting a negative stereotype”? He is stating something he has experienced empirically not through some foolish rationalization about how women are not good people so they would tip less!

    You both are WAY too sensitive about issues of gender and should really stick to cases where it is actually present. The attitudes you have make it harder for actual gender discrimination issues to be addressed because people rightly blow off foolish complaints like yours and group real gender problems in with them.

  18. MelC says:

    “some of my best friends are Mexican”…but you never have them to your house….”some of my best employees are Black” but you never give them a raise….slippery slope my friend, slippery slope…

  19. MelC says:

    *ducks head and hides*….ya know…disregard last post, obviously i’m one of the ones that “didnt get the joke”

  20. Zombies says:

    Ug, if I ever spend four hours eating and I’m not part of a wedding party, graduation or other large party, shoot me. I wouldn’t accuse you of misogyny. I do know what my gender can be like, and I can’t stand being with other women who act up every stereotype in the book. And really, with shows like Sex and the City and Desperate Housewives glorifying those stereotypes the more shallow women will of course emulate those stereotypes.

    The PC police will always try and control the speech and thoughts of everyone because they’re convinced they have the right to never be offended by thoughts that do not mirror their own. Say what you think Waiter – no one has the right to censor you, and its what’s made you so enjoyable to read these last few years.

  21. VT says:

    MelC – I wasn’t making a joke, I was making an observation. He never said he loved women, just never had them over to his house. Just that they ate longer and this hurts servers in the pocket. The “never having them over to my house” is missing. Also, look up the slippery slope fallacy and the rules of rhetoric. And just fallacies in general too.

    Zombies – Yeah four hours would get me too, but I think that was a hyperbole (to some degree… 🙂 Even I get tired of people at my table after four hours at a wedding. I mean come on, we’re here for the drinking and dancing.. this is a wedding after all! 🙂

  22. Food Service Ninja says:

    ok READ what Waiter aka Steve SAID men eat n go and women linger FOREVER at the table. He DID NOT say ANYTHING about how much either sex speaks.

    He addressed the fact women dine in female groups for longer periods than male diners. From my experience which is about double that of Steve’s is that they spend a lot of that time not chewing their food but rather chatting with their fellow diners after they waste fifteen minutes of the waiter’s time tableside while they end up all getting caesar salads and lemon waters.

    And the tipping part folks while it makes sense on the level they tend as a group tip less per dollar spent BUT they also tie up your table for a good 2-3 further turns. THUS even if they tipped 40% they would be costing you money when you could have had a steak and expensive cab consumer for those other turns ( ie they spend a lot more per person so their 15-20% adds up to much more).

    And Steve how long before your TV show hits the air (assuming it everything oges well along the process)?

  23. The Bartender says:

    When I see a group of women headed for the bar, I see indecision of what it is they want to drink, separate checks, water with a lemon along with their drink. They are bolder in their language when with a flock…alone they are quite and reserved. The flock is high maintenance and low tipping, while the singular is cordial both in personna and tipping.
    Wolves have very similar traits in a relative way.

  24. mary says:

    I would be one of those gals hanging out for way too long. Bought and read your book, it was good, but I’d rather read your blog…Always something new…The entry about the movie with your friend was great.
    Are the doc’s keeping you waiting for another gallbladder attack? That seems to be the way they work around here, unless they have you on antibiotics to ‘reduce the inflammation’-read-suck the bucks out of the wallet and make him really appreciate laparoscopy when he finally gets it done.

  25. PandoraWilde says:

    Assumptions work both ways–men aren’t the only ones who make assumptions about women and their habits when out for a meal or the evening.

    I generally tended bar as a second job for many years, and most of the time I worked with the bar manager, whose favorite saying was, “Women don’t tip” and would avoid waiting on women who were either not her friends or friends of the owner (REAL friends of the owner, not “I’m friends with the owner so get me your best table NOW” friends).

    Some nights it didn’t matter much. Other nights it was paydirt for her and she’d pull in about 25% more in tips than I did. However, one night it burned her ass in a MAJOR way.

    As usual, she’d passed by two women who’d just come into the bar so she could go wait on two guys who were known to be reasonably good tippers, so I picked them up as soon as I could, got their round and was shocked to see a $20 pushed to my side.

    “That’s for not passing us up when that other bartender did,” one said. I said profuse thanks and tucked the $20 into the front of my tip jar. After that, I was “their” bartender and they insisted on waiting until I was free to get their drinks all night, tipping very heavily each time and refusing to let my partner serve them.

    I counted out with probably about $150 more just from those two women on top of my normal take, and my partner was SO not happy at count-out!

    She asked why they tipped so heavily, and I was blunt with her–told her they’d been very offended that she has passed them up in order to wait on men and chose to make their point in cash. She shrugged her shoulders and said it didn’t matter since she usually beat me in tips anyhow.

    My point is, it’s not just the guys who make generalizations about gender’s effect on their tip jars. Female servers are equally capable of making the same assumptions–and equally capable of being wrong, painfully so.

  26. Judith in Umbria says:

    Even more reasons to pay wait staff better and forbid institutionalized tipping.

    Eating fine food should be slow and relaxed. It’s healthier and saner. As finances get slimmer, the numbers of time out may decrease, so the pleasure available from each time should increase. Eating anything other than fine food might as well be on the hoof.

  27. John says:

    As someone with 8 years of food server experience under his belt, I’m backing up Steve on this one. He’s absolutely correct, and it does NOT make him misogynistic.

    Red, if I said that black tables are terrible tippers, would that make me racist? If I said that Indian (dot not feather) patrons were rude, condescending and a pain in the ass to deal with, would that make me racist? If I said that WASPs on a Sunday-after-church brunch were demanding and judgmental, would that make me anti-religion?

    No, it wouldn’t, because I’ve got the empirical evidence to back me up. Stereotypes come from somewhere. Most people just don’t want to admit it.

  28. Joyce says:

    I read your book via Amazon, and your great blog, and when the news yesterday was about the AIG folks caught partying and getting spa treatments, I wondered how they got caught. I am glad they were caught, but thanks to you—I wondered if maybe they were poor tippers?? What do you think? Do you think the workers got even and turned them in?

  29. Waiter says:

    That my friend is a VERY good possibility!

  30. Holly says:

    This is the first time I HAVE TO comment:

    As a women, I know first hand how talkative women can be. That being said, let me tell you how the ‘Bahama Breeze’ in the Cleveland area handled (4) women (who hadn’t seen each other for a year) for lunch.

    The first women arrival requested patio dining though the patio was closed; they accommodated us with smile (imagine that). We talked & talked before ordering but our server was very courteous; he watched & ‘gently’ reminded us to order. They accommodated us with separate checks (that can be a struggle I know); took our pictures, per our request etc. etc.–just wonderful service!!

    Then we had eaten, paid our checks (the check w/tips are still on the table). The waiter thanks us very much for coming. Still talking. Again, he comes again and thanks us very much for coming. Uh oh–myself & my one friend got the ‘hint’-they need this table. So we got our other friends (who were continually talking) to depart. As soon as we left our table, another server (or hostess) came up to us & directed us to an area we could finish conversing without keeping the table. We finished our ‘catching up’ and were gone. As a women, I have never been treated better in my life!!

    Yes, at bars, when I’m with another female, I am routinely ignored; at restaurants, I have poor service when I’m with other women. I have even had a waitress ‘roll her eyes’ because we ordered salads only. (still tipped her good, though)

    Coo do’s to PandoraWilde for serving women–you never who she will be!!

  31. frank D says:

    what about being a regular customer – wouldn’t that make a greater difference than gender ?

    don’t tell me women go to hairdressers where they have these “problems” – why ? – they are regular customers at their salons and are treated accordingly.

    any woman who becomes a regular customer at a restaurant will come to be treated accordingly there also

  32. frank D says:

    as far as the NYT coverage, i don’t know that the counter argument is comparable because i do not know what “top-notch servers” were quoted – so they remain second-hand statement as that sommelier who doesn’t name who those top-notch sources are (sounds like well-rehearsed corporate-speak to me).

    as far as frank bruni, the funniest review IMHO is a spoof on his reviews titled “the art of bruni” – basically he is irrelevant as the upper crust NY’ers who have their own tables at places like the four seasons etc really don’t need his input and everyone else is simply on the outside looking in (or is a tourist) anyway – he will basically review a $1,000 lunch with the same approach as a $25 lunch review and pay no mind to the actual price difference as if it didn’t matter.

    [having been a guest of someone with a reserved table at the four seasons, i can attest that service is far superior for the regulars than anyone else – no matter what tip one leaves !!! – it’s like belonging to augusta national golf club -if you got it, your in, and if you don’t, well no amount of faking it will matter]

    the BEST service i’ve every witness was as the guest of individuals who were too rich to need to tip at all – if you’ve ever seen it you’ll know what i’m talking about !

  33. maggie says:

    very sad – but thought it may be of interest to you,2933,434885,00.html

    love your blog – i’ve been lurking around here forever! congrats on all your success with the book.

  34. jen says:

    Well duh women tip less. Women are still paid less than the men working the same job in most fields 😛 Less money in the pocket means less of a tip 😛

  35. Nikki says:

    Since reading Steve’s blog I am always careful to tip 25-30%. If I am out I always eat well seeing no point to eating just a salad. If the place is slow I don’t rush but if there is a crowd I keep that in mind and don’t hang around. If I am with a group and we stay longish we tip accordingly. As a result, I am fairly popular at my regular haunts.

    Not all women eat salads, drink lemon water and act like they are at home and hog table space.

  36. cass says:

    off topic here…how is buster?? could we see a picture??
    who loves ya baby

  37. Sami-Ann says:

    As a woman, and a server, I back up Steve 100%. Women are typically some of my worst customers, however there are ALWAYS exceptions to the rules, it’s important to keep that in mind as I know Steve does.

    I want to make it abundantly clear that stereotypes exist out of certain truth, even if occasionally those truths are exaggerated. It’s only human to recognize and fear those stereotypes to a degree, but what makes us better than some is when we are able to not jump to conclusions immediately. I have been very pleasantly surprised in the past, although more times than not a patron has fulfilled my unfortunately natural assumption.

    So anyone calling our dear waiter misogynistic or anything of the like needs to kindly shut their face and try working in the service industry for at least a year. I guarantee that you will have a very differing opinion when all is said and done.

  38. Stephan says:

    Jeez….political correctness run amok!

    I waited tables for a number of years. Simple truths: men tip better than women, gays tip better than straights and whites tip better than blacks. And Germans (this galls me particularly, since I’m half Kraut myself) are the worst tippers of them all. So now–no matter the fact that what I said is true–I guess I’m a misogynistic, racist heterophobe who hates his own kind. Whatever…

  39. Tanya O says:

    As a female server, if I serve a family or a couple I always pay full attention to the woman, even if she’s not looking at me or paying attention. if we pay too much attention to the husband or whoever the women get angry and it reflects in the tips!!

    Middle aged women tip male servers better than female servers. Women these days seem to think 10% is standard.

  40. Em says:

    Oh no! I eat ‘real meals’ and I tip well, but I am horribly guilty of the four hour meal. . . .

  41. BartenderOutlaw says:

    I don’t think i’ve ever been in a restaurant for longer than two hours without being on the clock (except for birthday gatherings, but for us, its pretty standard that one of us will pick up the whole tab, then everyone else throws in the tip, and as there are usually about eight or nine of us, i’ve seen the tips total well over $200 at times). Even then, nowhere near four hours.

  42. Anonymous says:


  43. dej says:

    Did it ever occur to any of you that males tip more because waitroids treat them better than women? And, then when women are mistreated by waitroids, and they don’t tip as much (and why should they?) you all whine about how women don’t tip as well as men? Why the hell should I reward somebody for being a pretentious jerk and treating me as less than human because my genes don’t line up the way his do?

    I’ve been to so many restaurants I can’t remember them all, and in many, many cases, I’ve been seated at shitty tables when dining alone while female, given lousy service, cold food, and then slap-dash treatment when it came to pay the bill. Why should I reward treatment like that?

    It’s the old male privilege thing — you don’t even know you have it, but you treat everything male as if its better and then you get rewarded for that treatment.

    I used to be a waitroid and I tried to treat everybody equally and not resort to tired cliches about which gender tips better. The result? About equal…

    And hey, if somebody orders just a salad, what’s it to you? Maybe that’s all they want to eat. You know, the restaurant’s there to feed people, not make fuckin’ value judgments about WHAT and HOW MUCH they eat. I don’t need to eat at restaurants, but restaurants do need me to eat at them… so start treating people equally and enough with the rolly eyes bit about what people order to eat, already.

  44. Johnny Soprano says:

    Which of the following came first?

    a) Egg
    b) Chicken

    Keep your way of thinking and behaving, you shall receive the same treatment. Wanna break the cycle and see some positive change? Then a change from oneself may be a good first step.

  45. Lily says:

    VT, despite those big words you throw around, you clearly don’t know what you’re talking about. You wrote “as statistical fact through his and others experiences.” For future reference…concepts gleaned from anecdotes are not statistical facts.

    Knowledgeable people are cautious to call something a fact even if a study supports it, and they would certainly not call it a fact because of one or even many anecdotes. While interesting and fun to read about, anecdotes don’t mean much of value except possibly if you’re curious about how things are perceived. For example, anecdotal evidence supports that married couples who have not been able to get pregnant, and then adopt will quite commonly get pregnant by accident soon after their adopted child arrives in the home. A peer reviewed study showed that couples who were having difficulty reproducing, were equally likely to get pregnant whether they adopted a child or not. What was really happening was that people take note of it, when they have a child after officially “giving up” and adopting a child. I’m not saying that women definitely do tip as well as men, but something else might be going on. Maybe waitstaff enjoy complaining more about the skinny chic ordering salad and lemon water, staying forever and skimping on the tip, than they do about the average weighted, soup bowl guzzling, tip withholding man. Or maybe it used to be a myth that women tipped less but became a self-fullfilling prophesy after wait staff started treating women worse. Or maybe women really aren’t tipping as well as men. However, no anecdote in the world will convince me of that.

    I don’t think that the waiter is a misogynist. He is just being honest and entertaining about his observations. But I never heard him claiming that it was statistical fact. Also, I think those comments
    the waiter made at the end were meant to be entertaining, not some attempt to protect himself from “the pc police.” As famous as the waiter is, he could say anything and people would still buy his book, and I’m sure he knows it.

    And now on to what I was going to say before I encountered vt head-up-his-own-ars….
    I’m Glad to know I don’t fit all stereotypes since I leave 15-20% for tips. If the restaurant isn’t busy, I might linger and chat. But usually, I’m on the side of hoping the waiter will hurry up and bring the check as soon as I’m done, so I can go to my movie or whatever else is next on the agenda. I’ve never noticed being treated worse than male patrons, even when I come in with a group of other women. But maybe the waiters and waitresses I’ve encountered are just that good at being classy and hiding their impatience.

  46. Vixter says:

    I saw you on Oprah the other day, & had to check out this page…seeing as how I had served tables for too many years to count. I’m a female from the midwest, & totally agree with you on the 4-top of ‘hens’ re:tipping. To be fair, smokers tip better than non-smokers; dates tip better than friends (of either gender); and ,yes, men tip better than women. I have no statistics to back this up, besides yrs of serving.

    Don’t know if this is regional or not, but have you ever had a husband leave a decent tip, and after he leaves the table, the wife will reach over & snatch $5.00/10.00 out of the cash pile?
    I don’t know if wifey thinks hubby is trying to get a date, or if she needs more cash for whatever, but I always feel like slapping her hand & telling her that she is stealing my rent!

  47. KOCKMASTER says:


  48. meatball says:

    the past few month i spent my time thinking what have i been doing with my life. I was in a blck hole with no escape, then i read waiter rant. Im a 24 year old college student waiting tables to pay the bills. this book is my bible, its ever thing i ever wanted to say, its everthing i have thought. I know im in school working towards my future, but its hard to stay positive when you have assholes talking down to you all day becouse there steak is med. not med well. to make this sort thanks for written this book, you have helped me more than i thougt a book could!!!!!!!!!!!

  49. meatball says:

    i would just like to say fuck you kockmaster!!!! i wish you could live in a severs shoes for one day. for you to tell me to get a better job is crap. take a minute and think who is working as a server, students,single moms,second job,the deprived, and the hard luck storys. if you can grow some balls and want to try waiting let me know!!

  50. cheritycall says:

    How are you?, Do something for help those hungry people from Africa and India,
    I added this blog about that subject:

  51. Anonymous says:

    dear knockmaster….or is that cock-knocker apparently u have never been in the service industry..servers work their butts off..true that is ALL U SEE us taking the order.and bringing drinks..follow me around the 2hrs before the restaurant opens.who do u think makes all those salads that feed 200 people cut desserts,cut a caseof lemons for your fuckin water..fill salad dressings set up the bar lug the ice.YOU MY FRIEND ARE CLUELESS and than the restaurant closes do u think we just simply walk out for the nite HA!!! than theres closing side work..we should be paid more and there should be a law against server abuse..but somebody’s got to do it!!!or your lazy ass would have to stay home and cook!!! so my advice to u is the next time u go out to eat..think about what this poor over worked underpaid server has had to do BEFORE AND AFTER waiting on your cheap ass…thank u

  52. Brittany says:

    dej…I totally agree with you! The thing that I can’t stand though is how waiters and waitresses will always pay more attention to the male sitting at the table. And by pay more attention, I mean completely ignore the female like she’s invisible. This happens to me all the time and my friends talk about it too. Last night I went out to dinner with my husband. The waiter came and took our orders and was very polite. However, after our food was brought to us he would act like my husband was the only one sitting at the table. I told my husband about this when the waiter walked away. He said its because he has more presence and talks to the waiter. I thought that was bullcrap because everytime the waiter would come up to the table he would start talking, and I would say something before my husband would. I finally got fed up with it. I took my empty water glass and instead of placing it at the end of the table, I put it away from the waiter’s reach. That way he would have to acknowledge me and ask me if I wanted my glass refilled. I know that sounds crazy, but am just fed up with being treated like I don’t exist. THIS IS WHY WOMEN DON’T TIP AS WELL AS MEN! WE DON’T LIKE BEING IGNORED! Why in the world would I want to tip well if my waiter doesn’t even acknowledge that I am sitting there? And its not a feminist thing…its just plain RUDE to ignore somebody like that, especially when you are serving them. Treat a lady like a person (not a disease) and maybe you’ll get a better tip! Oh, and I’ve been a waitress. Unless you’ve got a table full of rotten eggs who never tip well, you get the tip you deserve.

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