Friday Question of the Day – With Chick Fil A or with the Students?


An interesting discussion about the recently opened Tenleytown Chick Fil A started on the Cleveland Park listserve and I’m curious where you guys stand. One resident reports:

“Wife went to the new Chick-fil-A on Wisconsin Avenue yesterday around 3PM and was told she could not sit down to eat, could only order to take out. She asked why and someone purporting to be the manager told her that due to problems with Wilson students they are not allowing any patrons to sit down and eat between the hours of 3-5 M-F.”

I put a call into the store and was told that the to go policy is from 3-4:30pm and is only temporary. They are working on “solutions” to deal with the “situation” but are still brainstorming. So in the meantime do you support the temporary solution of only to-go orders between the hours of 3-4:30pm or are you against the policy?

Do you think there are better options? It’s not clear exactly what happened but let’s assume the students were rowdy and loud – what policy could work to ameliorate that situation?

Maybe this will force the students to eat healthy quinoa salads up the block…

126 Comment

  • City youth ruin everything they go towards. Chik Fil A is a magnet for them.

  • So I don’t know what the “situation” is at Chick-fil-A exactly. That being said, I’ve spent a few years working in the area. In that time, I’ve regularly experienced the rush of kids leaving Wilson for nearby establishments and it’s a mess. Of course some kids are just looking to hang out at places that are fun and affordable. These kids aren’t the problem. I’ve seen other kids taunt people, spit on people, punch people, push people down, snatch purses, and vandalize public property without any worry of consequences. Abuse of this sort happens regularly. These kids are the problem and this is not “normal.” I’m sure someone can cite plenty of reasons why some kids in DC are troubled. Most of these reasons would be rooted in truth. However, this offers little solace to business owners, workers, and residents in the area.

  • This is a result of discrimination laws. If the store said no Wilson students at a certain period of time they’d be accused of ageism & probably racism. So you just ban everyone.

    Sometimes you need to discriminate. Towson Mall is banning unaccompanied teenagers from its mall on Friday & Saturday night.

    • Towson Mall is very literally a teenage mad house on weekends. As a consumer who shops there, I support the decision, and I’m sure it came after much pressure from the retailers. I went there once on a Saturday and vowed never to go back because you cannot walk because of all the kids just standing around or walking at a slow pace 5 wide. However, as far as I am aware, there weren’t any crime issues, and I certainly never experienced it there. The place is also crawling with uniformed police and security officers.

      • Omg I worked at the Towson Town Center Nordstrom while in undergrad and cant believe they are restricting unaccompanied teens. That’s going to be so difficult as there are like 10 college campuses in a 10 mile radius. How will they know how old one is? Undergrad was over 10 years ago for me so, I cant speak to the current teen activity.

        • Also, I did a double take when I saw “Towson” being mentioned on a DC blog. I was like wait, are we talking about the same place? lol Towson is my absolute fav mall in all of Md, DC or VA

        • From what I saw on the news this morning, they will be checking IDs at the door and giving wristbands. It’s the hottest club in town…
          It’s not targeted at the college kids, only 17 and under. All kids 17 and under must be accompanied by an adult over 21 after 5pm on Friday and Saturday only. Now I am considering starting the campaign to ban college kids from Trader Joe’s on Saturday mornings so I can get my damn shopping done, but I don’t think that’ll happen!

          • WOW at all 20 entrances? lol There are so many ways to get in that place. I can see many using the side door by Bank of America/ TGI Fridays and sneak right in or through one of the restaurants. Im all for order though so Good Luck to them.

          • Yeah, I have no clue how this is going to actually work. Also, last I checked, Maryland wasn’t a police state and we aren’t required to have a government issued photo ID. I hate it when my politics collide with my sensibilities.

          • This might be the dumbest idea in the entire history of dumb ideas.

            It’s like people have never been teenagers before. Or seen “Mallrats” before.

  • The McDonalds across from my junior high was off limits. School rule. If you got caught there, you could be suspended.

  • A lot of those Wilson students are unruly. I’ve seen them stand at the top of the escalator and throw snowballs on people going down to metro. The metro platform is awash in Dominos pizza boxes after they’ve been through. There’s a reason why police camp out all along wisonconsin avenue when school lets out. I’m not surprised their test scores went down.

  • I’m not sure how I’d feel about this policy if it was permanent, but since it’s temporary to try to alleviate a problem until they come up with a permanent solution, then I support it. I’m curious as to why people wouldn’t.
    Like others, we had a couple of places that were off limits when in high school and college, with draconian punishments threatened. (If a University of Richmond student was found on the golf course of the Country Club of Virginia, rumor had it s/he would be expelled. No idea if that ever happened.) I don’t get the sense that either the Wilson administration or the city has the will to enforce any such sanctions, however.

    • Isn’t that the problem? Neither the school, nor the city – and especially not the parents! – has any desire to actually impose and enforce rules on these kids.

      • Absolutely. If I’d been caught acting like this as a kid, I shudder to think of what might have happened. (That’s why, when I did act like an a-hole, I was much more circumspect about it. It’s the brazenness of this that is most surprising.)

  • justinbc

    Private business, you have no right to sit there if they don’t want you to. I’m sure they probably have to make some exceptions for disabled / elderly, although possibly not.

  • I grew up in Florida suburbs. We had a McDonald’s across from my high school. The situation got so bad they built a small Sheriff’s substation into it by walling off part of the seating area. Fully support a business doing what it needs to deal with the universal fact that high school kids are awful when they are in groups.

    • “the universal fact that high school kids are awful when they are in groups”
      That is perhaps the most insightful thing we’ll read here (or anywhere) today.

      • Except it’s not universal and people need to stop making excuses for kids who can’t behave in public. Hope CFA doesn’t take any crap from these kids.

        • Oh, it’s pretty universal. How quickly we forget what we were all like at 14. Me? I was top of my class, straight As, captain of the girls soccer team, total rule follower – and insecure, immature, susceptible to peer pressure, eager to impress my peers, and at times a total jerk. I turned out just fine, but teenagers will always be teenagers and do dumb things – even the “good ones.” It’s not making excuses. It’s just recognizing biology & reality.

          • I wasn’t like this in high school. I knew a lot of kids that were, and even back then I found them annoying. True enough almost all of them grew out of it and are now normal well-adjusted people, but there are a lot of kids capable of going to McDonald’s in groups without trashing the place.

          • You were not like the kids coming out of Wilson and going to this Chick Fil A. Let’s stop with the obvious false equivalences.

          • Yeah but your version of “being a total jerk” was likely nowhere near what we see from DC kids and you know it. It’s not the same and to act like this type of behavior is universal is simply not true.

          • I agree with the second anon and autoexec.bat on this. I know plenty of kids who are not jerks in groups, and my own high school group was pretty quiet and tame.

          • OK, then we’ll just have the establishment set up a policy excluding the teenagers who act like jerks, on a case-by-case basis, and letting the well-behaved ones in. I’m sure that will go smoothly.

          • @dcd. I don’t think anyone one here is implying that CFA is wrong, just taking issue with the notion that teenage misbehavior is “universal.”

          • Well, according to the poll, 47% of the people responding (345 people) think CFA is wrong.

          • I also take issue with the term universal, in this context and in any context. There is truth in the fact that teenagers who congregate together without adult supervision have a tendency to get in trouble, and that is true in the city, in the ‘burbs, in the country, wherever. However, not all teens are bad. Not all Wilson students are bad. To be perfectly honest, it’s probably not even a 50/50 thing. Most of us wouldn’t tolerate anyone saying that all of any particular group are bad, so let’s stop doing it here.

          • Yes, I recall at that age how after school we’d roam the city in packs, flash-mobbing stores and stealing merchandise, snatching personal property from pedestrians, assaulting passers-by and throwing things at them for no reason. Oh wait, I don’t recall that because neither I nor anyone I knew at that age ever did those things.

          • I don’t think teenagers get a free pass. I also think some of the teenagers “these days” are beyond anything I would ever have done.
            I was just saying: I look back on some of the things I did (e.g., Egging a house. Sneaking out to meet a boy (I’m a lesbian for heavens sake) to smoke pot. Making fun of “that kid” in high school. Being generally loud and unruly.) and man, that was dumb. Wish I could have that back. I was just not a fully formed person.
            But that doesn’t mean I think you just “get a pass” for being a teenager. I never stole. I never (physically) hurt a person. I certainly never raped, murdered, assaulted. I’m generally honest and always have been.
            I’m just saying. Universally, teenagers are annoying jerks. Some of them will grow out of that. Some of them are %#&$y people who always will be, no matter age.

          • Also, just to be clear: They suck, I just don’t think we should have them put down because, you know, some of them may grow up to be human beings. But I have no desire to eat my chicken sandwich in their presence at this point in time.

    • I call BS on “universal.” I went to high school in the DC burbs where there was a local McDonald’s, Wendy’s, 7-11, and what have you within walking distance. There were maybe a few instances of shoplifting or nuisance from being loud, but for the most part the businesses welcomed us and I can’t recall a single truly serious incident. They certainly never had reason to turn away business. And I’m sorry, high school kids are old enough to know how to behave with a minimal level of civility. Maybe not middle schoolers, but by the time you’re 15-16-17? C’mon.

      • You do realize that a lot of the violent crimes, robbery’s and assaults committed in this area are by individuals ranging from 15-24. That is the age when kids are heavily manipulated by peer pressure and are either charting for college or some other after college institution or begin to hang in the streets, have children out of wedlock, and follow the crowd.

      • The truant officer for BCC high school used to check the local McDonalds that was there on E-W highway. The problem was that he was busted for dealing coke there. Not sure if additional enforcement from the high school always works!

  • CVS and others do it as well. There is a reason they do it and I don’t blame them

  • I’m against such a restriction in theory, but in practice I would support it given the unfortunate situation.

  • I understand why they want to do this. It’s bad for business to have a bunch of kids sitting around being loud (which they will be) and potentially rowdy (which they can be). It’s also not uncommon elsewhere. Sorry kids, you don’t just get to hang out where ever you please.

  • I just don’t understand how they didn’t open up with a plan in place. They knew this would be happening.

    As a Wilson alum, I get it. These groups of kids can definitely be a handful. My thought is that they wouldn’t be getting a ton of business between those hours from people other than Wilson students anyways and could probably tolerate them being in there for those hours.

  • What happened to “no minors unless accompanied by an adult” signs/policies?

    • What high school student would ever hang out with adults after school?

      • That’s the point. Without an adult accompanying them, they can’t stay.
        Although I suspect there are plenty of 18+ year old Wilson students…

        • I like my racism to be a little more veiled than this…thank you.

          • HaileUnlikely

            I don’t follow. It is normal for about half of the senior class to be 18 years old.

          • Look, I’m all for taking offense where none was intended, but the key is to get your back up about *ambiguous* statements.
            As Haile notes, there will be more and more 18 year olds in HS as the year goes on. (I myself celebrated my 18th birthday a few weeks into my senior year.) And I think that kids of all races age at a pretty comparable rate, so…

          • And at what age are high school students allowed to get jobs? If before or after work that student would like food, are you to not allow them because there is no adult?

          • Chick-Fil-A is allowing them (and anyone else who comes in during that timeframe) to get food. Just not to stay on the premises to eat it.

  • I used to work at Pete’s up the street and the rush of kids from Georgetown Day every day (they had no on campus dining options for some crazy reason) was a PITA. But, they had to be back to class at a certain time so the never lingered.
    I totally support Chick Fil A’s decision. More often than not, I see big groups of teens go into restaurants, and like one person orders food yet they take up tons of seats. That’s not even to mention the disarray they leave in their wake…

  • it’s a sign from god saying “dont eat at this place that funds hate groups”.

  • Common practice in the past. 7-11 has the two at a time rule that they enforce during these same hours, PG plaza has/had the no loitering policy during school hours as well.

    Grab your food to go and move on

  • As a nearby resident, I hate these rules because it means more garbage strewn about the neighborhood. Then again, I understand them but they seem discriminatory in nature and a poor solution to the problem.

    • “seem discriminatory in nature”
      How so? The policy apparently applies to all customers. That’s the opposite of discriminatory.

      • You realize a facially neutral rule can still be made with discriminatory intent, right? They know who is mostly in there at those hours, and so do we, and everyone knows this rule wouldn’t be in place but to keep Wilson kids out. Saying it’s not discriminatory is a ridiculous farce.

        • It’s called adverse impact, and I’d love it if a Wilson student would challenge it in court. Go for it.

          • I’m not saying they have a case, I’m saying it’s clearly targeted at them, and is therefore discriminatory. Plenty of discrimination is (sadly) legal.

          • They don’t have a case. Chick-Fil-A is under no obligation to offer any seating to anyone, whatsoever. If they closed this location completely because of the unruly kids, would a court have the power to force them to reopen?

        • And, in fact, this probably is not *illegal* discrimination under the DC Human Rights Act. Illegal discrimination required one to be a member of a protected class. To be in a protected class for age discrimination, one has to be 18 or older, which eliminates most high school students, especially early in the year. And while “matriculation” is a protected class, it doesn’t apply to high school students.

        • If the policy is neutral then I don’t care what their intent is, however obvious it may be. And if Wilson kids are causing problems then I have no problem with their intent either.

        • And what is a ridiculous farce is your supposed concern for these poor Wilson kids. As if they have some human right to congregate inside Chick Fil A after school. One can only hope they aren’t permanently damaged by the oppression.

          • Your utter contempt for them, on the other hand, is really endearing. It’s no wonder the commenters on this blog have such a stellar reputation for tolerance.

          • Arouet, you’re not reading carefully. I don’t have contempt for anyone, let alone a general group of people of which I don’t even know any. I have contempt for the silly debate over this perfectly reasonable policy.

          • Sorry anonymous. You sound like you have either 1) contempt for teenagers. Caused by the fact that now you are old and just don’t like kids anymore. This is perfectly natural. Or 2) you dislike urban teenagers because of the negative connotations associated with them. This one is far more dangerous.

            Either way, yes you do.

          • Bryan, sorry, you too are reading things that just aren’t in my statements. I’m not making any judgments about the teenagers.

          • In response to the replies below – this person doesn’t have contempt for them, but I do. I’ve been spat on by them, cat called, and had a group of them circle around me and push me when I’m just trying to walk down the sidewalk in front of CVS. They are an intimidating menace to the neighborhood, and as others in this thread have mentioned, I avoid the Tenleytown metro station so that I don’t have to walk through these hordes of badly behaved heathens. I am not “old”, and they are not just being rowdy kids. They harass and assault people. I applaud Chick-Fil-A for trying to take control of what could become a horrible situation.

      • Yeah, this seems like CFA is bending over backwards NOT to be discriminatory in this instance (wow, how’s that for irony!), to the detriment of their business.

      • Separating the comment from [email protected]:57 from the rest of the back and forth …

        “How so? The policy apparently applies to all customers. That’s the opposite of discriminatory.”

        That’s the defense some states are using for Voter ID laws which, well, have been proven to be discriminatory.

        • Apples and oranges. The right to vote is not a commercial transaction.

        • Yeah, I mean IANAL, but I don’t think sitting down and eating a chicken sandwich in the Tenleytown CFA between 3 and 4:30pm is a constitutionally guaranteed right as a citizen, so I don’t think it’s really comparable.

    • what do the other chains on Wisconsin do? There’s Starbucks, District Taco, Dominos, Panera, Whole Foods . . . is Chik-Fil-A the only one with these restrictions?

      • Kids follow the crowd, if the crowd chooses to assemble at another establishment, they will most likely need to establish a policy but it isnt really necessary until the threat is imminent.

        • OK so if this is the case why don’t the people who agree with these policies put their money where their discriminatory practices go? And open up a place where teenagers would like to go after school? You do realize if students are not allowed places they are more likely to do drugs, join gangs, make babies, etc? Instead of creating additional problems because “omg there are teenagers here making noise!” why don’t you help create a solution?

          • Like a rec center or something or after school activities or programs at DCPS high schools?

            Great idea if you ask me because as you indicate the teens usually do find a place to congregate whether it be a metro station, fast food establishment or elsewhere and tend to do things based on peer influence or pressure.

            Definitely need more positive outlets

          • HaileUnlikely

            Have you ever been on the grounds of Wilson HS? Have you ever been inside? Do you know anybody who sends their kids there? They have more resources than many wealthy suburban high schools could even dream of. It’s not that they aren’t there, it’s that at any high school, including but by no means limited to this one, some subset of students will decline opportunities to take advantage of amazing positive resources that they have and do bad sh!t instead. I would not say this about most DCPS high schools, but students who are actively enrolled at Wilson and are out making trouble absolutely positively are not out making trouble as a last resort because no opportunities to do anything else exist.

    • “seem discriminatory in nature”

      What are you talking about?? Quit throwing this into every single conversation. It applies to everyone which is the opposite as Anonymous 9:57 points out!!

    • You could easily make a case that it makes the solution more difficult.

  • It’s hard to reconcile Wilson’s reputation as one of the only sought-after public high schools in DC with these reports of intimidation and crime by its students. If it’s like this at Wilson, I shudder to think what it’s like at other places.

    • Wilson is the best of the DCPS lot (excluding the competitive admission schools). But, that’s a pretty low bar.

      • So few people who comment about Wilson have any actual direct knowledge. I have a child who is a senior there. Yes there are challenges and metal detectors, but the renovated building is a great facility and she has gotten a top-notch education: many AP courses, not all but lots of wonderful teachers, great extracurriculars and other opportunities (she travelled to Europe this summer on a free DCPS trip). Wilson sends several kids to Ivy League schools every year. If you want to throw away 30K a year at a private school go ahead, we are very happy with our choice to send our child to Wilson.

        • Assuming you’re in-bounds for Wilson, then I’m sure you realize that you *are* paying for it, at least in part — it’s baked into the higher price of your home.

          • HaileUnlikely

            If you have high-school aged kids and have lived in-bounds for Wilson all along, then yes indeed. However, for people moving into the school district today, you can pay much more to be zoned to a school that is much worse.

        • Where did I trash Wilson? I said, (i) that “Wilson is the best of the DCPS lot (excluding the competitive admission schools)” – not sure what’s controversial about that (unless you’re cranky at the implication that Banneker or Walls may be better than Wilson); and (ii) that’s a low bar in DC. Are you suggesting that, in order to be the best public high school in DC, Wilson has to best some stiff competition?
          In short, direct your umbrage elsewhere.

          • @anon We are in boundary but not Tenleytown. Wilson’s boundaries extend east of the park. I would say it’s the quality of the elementary schools in upper NW that drive up home prices rather than Wilson.
            @ dcd My umbrage (if you want to call it that!) was directed more at the first @anon comment–I hit the wrong reply button. But when you say the overall bar is low, I think it’s reasonable to interpret that as meaning that Wilson is merely exceeding a very low standard, which in my experience is simply not the case. I have another child at Walls, so certainly not cranky about the fact that it’s also a very good school. It’s not about the competition, it’s the negative comments by so many posters here who really have no idea what they’re talking about when it comes to these schools.

          • HaileUnlikely

            Being better than the rest of DCPS (yes, excluding Banneker and School without Walls) is a really low bar. I don’t take dcd’s comment as implying anything about the amount by which Wilson clears the proverbial bar, but I can’t imagine how anybody who is serious-minded and literate can argue that being the best high school in DCPS isn’t in itself a prestigious claim.

          • +1 to HaileUnlikely.

  • Was Chik Fil A surprised to discover after opening that a large public high school is around the corner? They don’t like the neighborhood? That’s just due diligence. You reap what you sow I guess

    • Surprised that a homophobic business would have other prejudices?

    • Saying that CFA doesnt like the neighborhood is a bit of a stretch. They are just trying to safely manage the after school rush and avoid the loitering issues that you see at the McDonalds in Gallery Place. Kids sit at the high tops talking on their phones, laughing and joking with one another, walking in and out of the restaurant without really patronizing the establishment and taking space away from paying customers.

      A kid just shot someone in the bathroom that was weighing marijuana for a drug sale in the mensroom and not actually purchasing food from the establishment.

    • You know… you’re missing something here. For example, there are 3 mattress stores within a five minute walk of Wilson on the East side of Connecticut. If I were opening a mattress store in that neighborhood I would assume that the nearby high school would have very little effect on my business. Kids don’t buy mattresses. Every year though… at least once a year… a bunch of Wilson students leave school, run from store to store and jump on all the beds. It’s not malicious, its fun, but its bad for business if your a mattress guy.

      Chick Fil A probably did its due diligence and chose that location BECAUSE it was near a high school and university. They just expected that students from a high school known as the best high school in DC would not trash the place. I just don’t think Chik Fil A is crazy for opening a fast food place next to a high school and expecting to not get tore up.

  • I don’t think a restaurant is obliged to provide a place for people to hang out and eat so as long as it applies to all customers I don’t see what the problem is.

  • What’s the alternative? Allow patrons to eat in and expose patrons and workers to a potentially dangerous situation? They’re acknowledging there is a problem and they’re working on a way to find a solution. In the meantime they are trying to minimize risks. This sounds perfectly reasonable.

  • Why don’t they just post a staff member at the door and enforce no unaccompanied minors from 3 to 6pm on weekdays? That’s perfectly legal to do.
    Or are they worried that they will only be excluding black kids and letting in white families? That could be a social media PR disaster for CFA.

    • With the current climate, you may sadly not be very far off. Everything gets turned into ‘race’ whether it is or isn’t.

  • I support it. At least they’re doing SOMETHING. Better that than the place go downhill. Dang youngsters!

  • I live three blocks from the Tenleytown Metro. I work two blocks from another metro stop.

    I will not take the Metro to work because of the Wilson students in the morning. They’re worse than what you would imagine with just a bunch of rowdy teens. They push people out of the way, they are loud and profane and they roughhouse.

    I’m sure I sound like an old fuddy-duddy telling kids to keep my my lawn, but these kids really are worse than you might imagine.

    • +100 I work several blocks from the Tenleytown Metro and won’t take it in the afternoon for the same reasons. They flood the area in such a mass, so quickly, that it really intimidates you. The behavior I’ve seen between 3:15 – 4:00 at various Tenleytown businesses such as Panera, Starbucks, Chipotle, McDonald’s – especially the way the personnel and other customers at those businesses are treated by some of the students – makes me grateful that they don’t generally seem to make it any further south than Van Ness Street.

      I feel like I’m getting old, because we didn’t do this after high school. We had sports practice, activities, etc., then homework. We also didn’t have access to the resources to hang out and eat every day after school – the # of kids buying food with credit cards surprises me. Do parents fund this? Mine would have packed me a snack, or made me come home to eat.

      Has the Tenleytown ANC ever explored working on this issue with Wilson? Looked at some of the suggestions above, such as helping with coming up with better options for hanging out after school, staggered release times, etc.?

  • I guess I’m the only one here who in high school just went home after school…

    • I did too.
      I didn’t have a car or carpool with someone who did, so I needed to catch the bus.

    • Did you take public transport to/from school? If so, you’ll know that there are plenty of distractions and opportunities to cause mischief on your way home with friends.
      This is what we get when DC doesn’t do school buses and instead relies on Metro.

      • First year in h.s. I took the school bus, so no opportunities there, second year I was overseas and had a 1.5 hour train ride each way to school – lots of opportunity to do things on the way home but it didn’t occur to me. Last two years I was in a P.G. county school (go Wildcats!) and easily could have walked to P.G. Plaza after school, but again – never occurred to me to go eat fast food after school when I could just go home instead. I guess I’m old…

      • Really the reason I posted this comment though is in reaction to the idea that ‘if these kids don’t have somewhere to go/something to do” after school that they will turn to gangs/drugs/teen pregnancy as a result – umm…I assume that the majority of these kids have homes to go to after school, I really don’t understand that they need another alternative. But, again, I am old.

        • Perhaps their home life sucks so they go elsewhere. I always went right home too. Maybe to a friend’s house and that’s it.

  • not sure why this grinds my gears; but was totally cool with Dew Drop Inn’s 24+ policy.

  • I actually went to Towson high school for a while and we used to walk to the Chick FIl A inside of Towson Mall…A classmate worked there. Students used to pack into the food courts, we could tell that the adults did not want us there. I do think this is a private business and they have the right to enforce this rule. The Chick Fil A is not obligated to babysit people’s children. They are a business, there to make money. If said teenagers are there and not purchasing food but causing a ruckus instead, than the establishment has the right to ban them or ban everyone for that matter. I used to work in fast food and it is not an easy job. I imagine they had to constantly clean up things they should not have had to clean up!

  • Everyone should come to the Chik Fil A in Columbia Heights just after school lets out and see how much you all enjoy sitting in there eating. THEN you can more accurately assess the situation. Try thinking of these two peaceful hours as “adult swim”.

  • Yeah, I work in this neighborhood. It’s not the high schoolers from Wilson – it’s the middle schoolers from Deal. We’re dealing with unsupervised 11, 12, and 13 year olds on the loose.

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