Your Class of Trash

I like living in Lincoln Heights, it’s a nice neighborhood. Despite all the efforts some have made to portray it as an “up and coming” area (whatever the fuck that means) it’s still a mostly working class community, which is fine by me. I now work near a neighborhood that is considered “nice” (I guess it up and came!) but I think of it as mostly sedate, much more car based, with sidewalks that are practically empty during the day. Not my cup of tea coffee. At all.

One thing that I have noticed is that even though they still get their services from the same City of Los Angeles, they get a different class of service: take a look at how these trash cans are neatly lined up, even AFTER the trash pickup. And this is quite usual on a weekly basis. Now click ahead to see how they line up the trash cans over on this side of the river!

Hmm, not so neat over here.

These they didn’t even bother pushing back towards the curb. Maybe it’s just one or two rogue trash truck drivers but I suspect it’s just that over here we lack the culture of complaint and entitlement that makes all the difference in situations like these.

I have a dream that one day the trash cans of the rich and the poor will be treated with the equal respect they both deserve. Until then, I’ll keep fomenting the class war by pointing out some relevant observations:

*) Notice that the lawns in the ‘nice’ neighborhood are wastefully green while in Lincoln Heights they are environmentally-conscious brown. Going hardcore “Green” means your lawn goes brown!

*) In the “nice” neighborhood they throw away lots and lots of stuff that would otherwise be sold, traded, or left on the curb in LH where we know full well that someone else could use it. This is a crappy cell phone pic of a giant blue stuffed animal unsuccessfully stuffed into a trash can. On many levels, this just seems way wrong: can’t you find someone to give it to?  Shouldn’t you have though about the implications before you put your dollar down at the ring toss? Amazingly, the trash crew must have picked it up because it wasn’t there later in the day. In LH, they leave your trash along with a form letter telling you not to exceed the capacity of the can. So it goes.

Even though this image of a Joyful Blue Monster drowned in a tub of common household waste ranks up there with telling kids there’s no Santa, it’s still not as miserable as the trash can I didn’t get a picture of in this same neighborhood: stuffed with inflated, helium filled balloons. Think about it. A trash can. Stuffed with helium-filled Balloons. Yearning to break free. Held down only by a partially closed plastic trash can lid. Seriously, I wish I managed to take a pic cuz it’s almost impossible to believe, but give it a shot. A simple pin prick and the “trash” fits in the palm of your hand. That’s when I realized these people are crazy.

The one thing the nice neighborhood has going for it is that I’ve yet to see any of them chain up their trash cans like this place in LH. I’ve had my trash can stolen before, no doubt by someone that didn’t know you can just call a number to have a broken or missing one replaced. Which might also explain why I haven’t seen any broken-but-duct-taped trash cans on the Westside either.

Still, all things considered, I think I’d rather deal with the occasional missing can.

This entry was posted in Analysis, Fotos, Greater Los Angeles, La Politica es un desmadre.., Lincoln Heights, Pendejadas, Shit I hate. Bookmark the permalink.

38 Responses to Your Class of Trash

  1. chimatli says:

    You’ve hit the nail on the head, it’s all about complaining. Complaints to the city gets the best service. Here in LH people are too busy with their lives to take the half hour to find the appropriate number, be put on hold and then file the report where they take down your name, address and telephone number. Also, folks around here probably are using their time to deal with bigger problems. I kinda like living in a not-so-uptight neighborhood.

  2. Chuck Morse says:

    That was a great post.

  3. Beatriz says:

    I love it. Your observations are spot on and you illustrate them so well!

  4. Kevin says:

    I get soooo pissed when someone steals our trash cans. Really, like you said, they are FREE. I finally painted our house number on them.

    My favorite was the guy who painted the wheels on his trash can chrome, so it looked like the can was rollin’ on dubs.

  5. I just cackled in a library, Chavo. This post is great.

    The only neighborhoods I describe as “up and coming” are Chatsworth/Western SFV. 😀

  6. Gabrielito says:

    Genius! Another excellent observation! Well done Sir!

  7. rheim says:

    nice one, el chavo!

  8. transit says:

    Funny how the city burea of sanitation treats different areas of the city. When the trash truck dumped half of the contents of my can and my neighbors cans in the street and I chased the driver down with a broom in my hand (I was cleaning up the mess!) he called the LAPD and told his supervisor that I was trying to assult him. To make a long story short the supervisor told me the trash truck malfunctioned…strange it was working fine when the driver returned down the other side of the street, when he was “assualted” by me!
    To all the LA trash truck drivers “TOMA PUTOS!” you overpaid bastards!

  9. What a contrast, good that you pointed it out and put the spotlight on this issue with these pendejo “sanitation workers”.
    I love your observations and social commentary.
    You make me become more of a participant and less an observer in my community.
    – continue “echandole ganas” 🙂

  10. moon says:

    How can they dump the trash if it’s chained to the tree????

    It used to be you could bribe the drivers with a six-pack to take more than the capacity but now, with only one driver, they don’t even get out of the truck.

  11. Bob says:

    Judging from your pics, I guess the grass really is greener on the other side of the fence (or river as the case may be). Living in Eastside-adjacent Echo Park, our cans get the “Eastside Treatment”, unfortunately. Evidently, the gentrifying yuppie/hipsters that populate my neighborhood are too busy seeing and being seen at Chango and Fix coffee shops to find the time to complain to the city about disorderly trash cans. Hey now THERE’S some common ground to build upon!

  12. Robert says:

    One other thing that your photos bring to mind is that there used to be 2 guys per truck tossing in the trash before they went to the flip-top trash containers and one driver. So now they have these trucks hauling ass to grab the containers as fast as they can and move on.

    I can hear the one 6:30 am route on the next street behind my house on trash day, they are so loud, racing the engine to get those lifts and clamps going as fast as they can.

    But here’s my question, since they go so fast and seem to finish faster with ONE guy than they did with TWO, (1.) why does it still take so long to get the job done, and (2.) do they have twice as many trucks rolling than before because they are mechanized? I never heard of trash guys getting laid off.

    Another collateral damage of this “speedy service” is that they have those clamping lifts grab the cans so hard that they squeeze and crack them prematurely while they bang the shit out them. Our trash can was so cracked a while back that the whole trash can came apart and went into the truck in pieces from that whipping actions and crushing grip.

    To top it off, I had to call for another can and the woman asked for the number of the old one and spent way too much time on that call- she didn’t understand I could not get the number because the old one was GONE with the trash truck.

    I really agree about the operators doing a half-assed job when they leave the street with the cans all spread around from their original position because they went so roughly and fast so they wouldn’t miss their next break, probably a longer one if they finish fast.

    I really wonder about the cost and efficiency- I guess the repairs the truck and the engines from all that extra wear and tear they endure from the hot-rodding operators more than outweigh the workers comp claims and overtime costs of the manual style of the old system.

    Even tossing in the cost for this shortened trash container life, it’s probably better- but what about the time freed up by cutting the crew from 2 persons down to 1 person? Do they work half the time for the full salary?

    Don’t forget the tripling of the trash cost that used to be included in all the other taxes; now they found they could charge you more if they call it a fee since taxes have to be voted on, but not “fees”- AND there’s nothing different that they do for us even though we now pay a new, boosted cost (as usual). (The rates were to be done in steps up to 2010, but Mayor Villababoso needed to make his goal of 1,000 cops hired, so they changed it at his request- and even THEN the money went for other things, not more hires. eff him.)

    So meanwhile, heads up when in the Heights running the obstacle course on trash day- and I don’t think you have to stop to avoid a hit-and-run charge if it’s only a trash can. Just be sure to miss the truck.

  13. Great post and observation! I understand the feeling of those tossed up trash cans in the middle of the street same thing on my street!

  14. Was that heresy spoken in this blog? Did someone really call Echo Park “Eastside-adjacent”?

    I’m from South Gate, I guess you can call it “waterfront property.”

  15. waltarrrrr says:

    From the looks of it, you’re working near the Fairfax District now?

    That trash truck guy working those cans on Workman Street looks like he’s making a real concerted effort to leave them as fucked up as possible. Surprised he didn’t drop a couple on top of the parked cars.

    Thankfully I don’t think he works the Avenue where I live in Highland Park. (Though he could, LH & HP are both serviced by North Central Sanitation District.) Our cans are typically put back upright and in front where they belong.

    The thing that I’ve been tripping out on, is how my neighbors have been putting out their cans earlier, earlier lately. First it was first thing in the morning the day before, now its two whole days before.

  16. browne says:

    One thing I noticed about more working class neighborhoods is that if you point things out such as this, the residents themselves (the older ones, not in age, but pregetri) will blame their own neighbors. They think its “nicer” on the other side, simply because its nicer. People don’t get that it’s not complaining its advocating and it’s not that the people in certain areas are more sloppy, its just the city doesn’t give a damn about certain people, because they don’t have to.

    I was talking to a woman in Compton and she was talking about how dirty a particular park was in the area and I said the city should clean it more and she was talking about how in Beverly Hills (don’t know why she brought up such an extreme) it was nice and clean and how the people care. She said she always cleans up after herself and you know I believe that, but I believe everyone cleans up after themselves at about the same level, but people with more money they get help. They get the city helping them and I wish more people in working class neighborhoods got that. We’re not bad it’s just that people don’t help us, because they know we won’t say anything, because working class people, poc have in general been trained that advocating is bad and its whiny and complaining and its not. Its making your tax dollars do what tax dollars are supposed to do. You paid for this and you are simply asking that the city, county, state… use your hard money the same way they use it in other neighborhoods.

  17. don quixote says:

    Hey jente, don’t come down so hard on the trash truck workers, a lot of civil servants nowadays are totally overworked. Whether it’s LA trash truck operators, post office workers, the Probation Dept, ect ect; these people are being pushed harder and harder and given more and more work. My Uncle works for the LA County Probation Dept and he tells me that retired agents and workers laid off aren’t being replaced and his case load has tripled in size and supervisors are pressuring for more and more clearing of paper at the detriment of the clients.
    Same thing with these Trash truck operators who are being given larger areas to service and no extra help just more pressure from above.
    On my narrow Highland Park St. with cars parked on both sides and people trying to pull out of their driveways and people on the way to work honking at the trash truck who can’t move out of the way cause the streets so narrow, and the misplaced trash cans due to the winos and others picking through the containers during the night all creating a bad street scene.
    Many times some of the good people in the neighborhood will help the trash dude out and move the containers closer or even help manhandle the cans onto the scoop if some have been knocked over by a car or something.
    We know our guy by name and will give him a cold drink (sometimes even a beer) and it’s mutual because sometimes someone will have some extra shit to dump and our vato will accommodate because we treat him right.
    Try this in your area with these hard working guys, it just might help the situation, walk a mile in his shoes sometime.

  18. Robert says:

    Yes, they may be hard working and there may be others adding to the problems that have been mentioned, but— it comes with the territory. And that part goes with all the jobs mentioned, but right now, it’s the trash collection activities being considered for the rest of my comments.

    You can’t deny that those benefits and retirement- besides the pay itself- are much more that just decent.

    And if you value those guys on the job, drinking on-duty, “even just” beer might get them disciplined, even fired. Plus, if this is a professional driver, a Class B license, then a blood alcohol max of .08% drops to .04% for them and DUI’s consequences are no fun.

    I’m not saying everything is justified; only that this is the way it is for the workers’ job conditions, responsibilities, compensation and hazards.

  19. don quixote says:

    So these hard working people make a decent wage, and have benefits including retirement, and? By the way what’s much more than decent mean? What what would constitute just a decent wage? Should we be resentful of somebody who earns a decent living? These people work very hard at a stressful job and IMHO deserve what they make and if they have benefits and retirement then more power to them, I think we all should be in the same position.
    But just because someone earns a “decent” wage shouldn’t make them targets as slackers or fat cats, because the Trash Truck operators earn every cent they get and if there are problems with certain individuals then one should first contact a supervisor and if that doesn’t solve the problem then contact your city councilman and demand a change.
    And Robert, thanks for the lecture on offering a cold drink or beer to my neighborhood trash truck driver, but as a construction worker myself for many years I always appreciated a customer relating to me as a fellow human being who might be thirsty and tired. When treated decently we always did much more than required for the customer.
    Try it sometime.

  20. Erika says:

    My favorite was our trash guy who was smoking a cigar and tossed it into the street after abusing my trash can. Arrrrg!

  21. rolo says:

    im sure that the workers are alot more careful in the rich areas. im sure they dont want to hit that white Audi by just throwing the trash can carelessly. Those chained up trash cans are too funny, u only see that in LH.

  22. tin says:

    wow, i didn’t realize the political/class implications of garbage pick-up, is every where if you know how to look. peace

  23. alienation says:

    Where do you file your complaints?

    seems like an organizing opportunity

  24. I agree with Robert.
    And DQ you are probably a union construction worker, so of course your gonna sympathize with the “sanitation workers” and be biased.
    I am a non-union worker in my field but i do have family that have union jobs.
    I personally belief that a huge majority of union workers tend to be lazy and try to do as little work as possible and still get by.
    I mean everyone from teachers to supermarket workers to construction to trash collection,etc.
    Im sure no one is gonna confuse you with having a mario lopez body, am i right DQ? lol
    La barigota que les cuelga a los de construction and los basureros

    But not everyone has that luxury of belonging to a union or having a union backed job-career.
    I still think union or not they have to stop doing their trash collecting duties “half -assed” and have an across the board uniformity regardless of “class, race or socio-economic status”.

  25. And DQ regarding the beer giving..thats illegal, breaking the law. But if your lucky he will chug the beer down right away so that on his way back down your street he will jump the curb and crash into your house..so then you can give him life support via a bottomless cerveza IV-intravenous line.
    – we can only hope, see the universe tends to have a thing were everything gets taken care of, whether its pay back or revenge, todo se paga en esta vida.
    “no hagas nada malo que se vea bueno, o nada bueno que se vea malo” and “la mentira dura mientras la verdad aparece”.

    and respect? this is not about respect obviously since they dont respect the trash containers-cans.
    To get respect you must earn it.

  26. browne says:

    In defense of the civil servant union worker. If it weren’t for civil servants and the fair wages that they provided there would be no black, latino or working class high school graduate parents with children who went to college and were able to become professional and have choices.

    I’m going to be 90% of African-American, Chicanos and working class ethnic whites who went to college and graduated, parents had union jobs. Because for working class people the only job that will pay for you to have a house, a little vacation, Xmas presents, a stable life and save for your kids college education is a union job.

    The union job provided the man (and women in regards to teaching) who didnt have rich parents, who had too many vowels are consonants in their last name, who was a person of color to have a livable fair wage.

    Yeah some union workers are lazy, but some corporate people do lines of Coke on MY TAX DIME (see AIG) and then after they get caught they do it again. Now while that lazy union guy can get annoying, we only get annoyed with that guy because we see him and because the rich who run the media want to make sure that we are distracted and blame the union guy for our little aggravations in life.

    The goal of the rich is to never have to pay anyone a fair wage. Unions need to be brought back in a real way.

    But the guy in a union who doesn’t do his job is simply a sympton of a larger problem of people being overworked and underpaid and exploited.

    Browne

  27. don quixote says:

    ” I personally belief that a huge majority of union workers tend to be lazy and try to do as little work as possible and still get by.”

    And you probably believe that George Bush and the Republicans anti union philosophy of the last 50 years has really improved the living standards of working class US citizens huh?

    The late Studs Terkel knew his history and of the working class struggles to form labor unions and lift our standard of living which include non union workers who benefit from the union struggles to increase wages and enforce safety standards.

    In the Introduction of his 1995 book “Coming of Age” Studs tells of his encounter with a young couple while waiting for a bus.

    “We nodded toward one another, as we’ve done daily for at least a year. This time, I spoke. “I see where Labor Day is approaching.” The response was a cool,dead-blank stare. They turned away.
    I was hurt. Perversity got the best of me.
    “That’s the day.” I insisted, “working people paraded down State Street by the thousands, honoring thier unions.” I was unable to stop; a soap box speech was in the making.
    With a clipped response worthy of Noel Coward, he cut off the old bum. “We loathe unions.” Apparently he spoke for both.
    Instantly, I was the Ancient Mariner, fixing him with glittering eye. “How many hours a day do you work?” It was something of a non sequitur. Caught off guard, he replied,”Eight hours.”
    I had him. “How come you don’t work fourteen hours? Your great-grandfather did.” He was pinned against the mail box. He looked about, as for a passing patrol car. The devil had me on the hip. “Know why you work eight hours instead of fourteen? Some guys got hanged in 1886. Fighting for the eight-hour day–for you.”
    It was a reference to the Haymarket Affair in Chicago, so long, long, long ago. “They were union men.” The young woman tugged at the sleeve of her stricken young man and, as the bus finally came, they scurried onto it. I never saw them again.”

    RIP The Great Studs Terkel

  28. browne says:

    don quixote,

    yeah to all that you said. if it weren’t for unions the vast majority of us would have really horrible lives. the working conditions before unions were just so insanely bad, i just think people should read up into what it used to be like in the industrial age before we had labor laws.

    i look at the internet world that doesn’t have unions and how people work these insane hours and then they are laid off and they get nothing. i knew lots of people who lost their jobs in the dotbomb of 2000/2001 and these are people who worked 16 hours day (didn’t get overtime, because they said they were consultant, independent workers…lol..) seven days a weeks and when they lost their jobs they had nothing, they had to move back in with their parents. i think people think they don’t need these laws, but when the economy gets bad people will see how horrible people will treat the working man and woman when they know they need the job and there are no laws or unions to protect them.

    i think in the coming years we will wish the unions were stronger.
    browne

  29. Pork Chop says:

    A friend of mine is a Sanatation Engineer ( Garbage Man) and he makes over $100K a year. Don Q , I would say that’s a little more than decent and these guy’s should be able to get of their asses and fix a garbage can that they knocked over or at least put it back decent.

    “And Robert, thanks for the lecture on offering a cold drink or beer to my neighborhood trash truck driver, but as a construction worker myself for many years I always appreciated a customer relating to me as a fellow human being who might be thirsty and tired. When treated decently we always did much more than required for the customer.
    Try it sometime.”

    OK so now we know who to blame when the Garbage guy runs over some little kid because he’s been drinking on the job. Your ” I used to be a construction worker” excuse is weak at best.

  30. browne says:

    Pork Chop,

    The guy who is the garbage man making 100k a year is probably not working on the Eastside. The people who probably get the routes on the Eastside and in South Central are probably the newbies who don’t make nearly as much. Just like many teachers who teach in the inner cities are new teachers with less experience the workers that make the most aren’t in the neighborhoods that are not seen as not important.

    Your friend probably does fix the trashcans and puts them back nicely.

    I take the bus daily and while I had heard the bus drivers make a good wage (someone told me a similar story to what you told) when I am on my way to Compton or the Eastside or on the 14 the drivers don’t seem as good. I had initially just thought they weren’t working hard enough, but I began talking to them and they told me they were making around 12 dollars per hour AND they were working parttime. They don’t even qualify to take the bus for free like the people who got the benefit of a strong labor community in the past.

    You can take personal anecdotes and the propaganda of people who have a vested interest in not paying people and while people in there 50s might have a good wage those people in their 20s and 30s are not making the kind of money that those jobs provided in the past.

    And 100k after you have been working for a long time isn’t that much.

    And something I noticed, in LA people tend to lie about their true wage and try to brag about that one year they got alot of overttime.
    Browne

  31. don quixote says:

    I don’t buy it for a second Pork Chop, I know a number of sanitation workers and none of them make even close to a hundred grand so go peddle your bs somewhere else.

    And as far as unions go I’m old enough to remember how different things were when the union movement was strong, before Ronnie Raygun and the now failed supply side economic guru’s did everything in their power to destroy labor unions, including exporting jobs and industry to third world countries were there are no labor problems.

    Lincoln Hts is discussed a lot here at Chanfles and if I can, let me take you back to the Lincoln Hts of my childhood in the 1950’s.
    Almost everyone I knew had a Father who worked in the local industries and all had good paying union jobs.
    There was the Pabst/Eastside Brewery, the Southern Pacific Rail Yards, Price Pfister Brass Foundry, Fuller Paints, Carnation Diary, Foremost Dairy, Bauer Pottery, Log Cabin Bakery, ITT Cannon Electric, Peerless Pump, Welch’s Industrial Laundry, Barbara Ann Bakery (where my Father and many relatives worked), 4 S bakery, the Lacy St Sanitation Truck yards, and many more.
    These were good union paying jobs that had health care and retirement benefits, a youngster that didn’t even have a high school diploma could get a good job and raise a family.
    These industry’s and union jobs supported a lot of other business’s and provided a decent life for families so that the upward mobility of workers family’s could take place and their children could improve their lot and benefit society as a whole.
    Since the right wing fascist takeover of the country in the last 40 or 50 years the Union Movement has been almost destroyed and with it the demise of our cities and industrial base which is evident in our dog eat dog philosophy of economics.
    I think like Browne says, that a new push for Union organizing and workers rights is coming soon, the good life for many that was by and large created by our parents and grandparents and their suffering and fighting for workers rights and human rights has been forgotten by many of the offspring, who benefited by the good Union jobs of their ancestors.
    The new poor, mainly exploited immigrants seem to understand the benefit of organizing and the labor movement and these workers will be the catalyst for a rebirth.

    My Grandparents worked and lived around the coal mines of Southern Colorado and New Mexico, my Grandmother remembered when her whole family lived in the company housing of Phelps Dodge while the men worked the coal mines of Dawson, New Mexico.
    In those days there was a two tier salary for the coal miners, one that paid more for the “white” coal miners, and another lower wage for the “Mexican” workers.
    My Abuela remembered the two explosions at those coal mines in Dawson, still a record for deaths in one industrial accident, one explosion killed over 500 men, the other killed over 200 miners.
    She as a young girl remembers the sight of 5 coffins in the house for the velorio, the father, his brother, a brother in law, and two sons all killed in the mine explosions. She told me that it was the dead of winter and the kids collected pieces of coal to heat the house that was now occupied by only women and children.
    There were no death benefits or welfare at that time so after a couple of weeks the Phelps Dodge Company Representative knocked on the door one day and informed all the widows and children that since they had no men working in the mines anymore that they would have to move within one week.
    All of my older relatives remembered those old hard times and they were all staunch Labor Union supporters. I think many people are again living those hard times and history may repeat itself.

  32. Hey DQ i am a registered democrat, not rich at all, far from republican the closest ive gotten is visiting Orange County..lol
    I am also a proud male hispanic who is also gay. So a minority within a minority and we have to bust our asses, excuse the pun, so much more to be seen as “normal” productive members of this society and country.
    I am a Fiscal conservative and a Social liberal.
    Have you ever heard of the saying- “ahorra de joven para gosar de viejo” basically says save when young so you can enjoy when old. No one wants to be old and have to work hard.
    In the end its not up to no union or anything. It is the idividual persons responsibility and work hard make and effort, “echale ganas” and plan and save.
    And it does suck that a trash collector/sanitation worker makes more money $$$$ than an elementary school teacher, you do recognize that.
    Ive never been inspired or motivated my a trash man but a teacher yes.
    anyways peace..im done.

  33. La Claudia says:

    THis is Hysterical!!!

    I need a chain on mine, the other day i had to go complain to some
    CHOLOS and was like

    “HEY WHY DID YOU TAKE MY TRASH CAN?!!!!!!”

    he thought that i was just wierd and said,

    “it was just here at my house take it back”

    ….WHAtever dude -i almost busted a Cap!!!~chale…

    LA Claudia y Que…

    True Story!!!!

  34. Eric Narthex says:

    In China, they just pile up trash in the street. And by morning, it is clean. I honestly loved seeing those grand messy trashpiles all over the streets there — it just speaks to a total lack of uptightness and pathological orderliness that I really enjoy.

    Also, it made it so you knew you could just litter anywhere and it would end up in the right place soon enough. If you left a recyclable item anywhere, you knew that it would be recycled by some enterprising old lady.

  35. gustavo says:

    Are you serious-ly? Stealing trash cans? LoL

  36. Dayana says:

    Too funny dude its kind of nice to see the reality of modern day social diffrences so close to home..
    Keep em coming stay Up!
    *SERENO*

  37. Ester says:

    we have had our truck dented on the hood and our van bumper was
    dented by an irate trash truck driver I actually saw him hit my van we had called because our trash had not been picked up for 2 weeks REVENGE? this happened a couple years ago
    also on Amethyst st a friend up there is actually afraid of the truck driver
    after he had complained I thought we were the only ones lately we seem to have some pretty nice guys and they have’t thrown our cans over side of hill thanks Ester

  38. Leticia "lettuce" says:

    OK This is so not true! Living in the Westside… our trash cans are neatly lined up because we place them ion the streets ourselves! Than when they are done they are placed back in the same place.

    This has to do with the Employee! Not the city!
    Obviously people that pick up the trash in Lincoln Heights dont give a shit but it has nothing to do with special treatment.

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