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Archive for January, 2010

John Cooper "Cujo"

“Talk Less , Listen More” that was the advice to all new trucking students from Mr. John Cooper , dubbed “Cujo”.

This gentleman was “Sam” from my student trucker story on “Ask the Trucker – A Day in the Life of a Lady Trucker“, he passed away unexpectedly Christmas weekend , it was a shock to everyone in our company.

“Cujo” was a dedicated company man, he was one of the first people a student trucker would meet and he was the first person many of us went looking for as our training experience unraveled. Often he could do little more than encourage us to remain optimistic, pick ourselves up and try again. “Cujo” motivated me to keep trying.

I learned to read between the lines with Cujo and because of that I overcame many obstacles which is my student trucker story. He was a man with a great deal of integrity but his hands were tied to make changes. His optimism and upbeat demeanor may have seemed to some that he did not understand but I know he truly cared about the students success. He was simply not in a position to be much more than a figure head, the Ambassador.

So dedicated was Cujo to the company, I never told him I wrote about him or about my story until the night of the first Dan Rather Broadcast. By that time he had seen me overcome many challenging situations. He played a key role in my success with just a few directives.

After my story became public knowledge, I was stopped by a female driver in my company at a North Carolina Fuel Stop who said “You called Cujo , “Sam” after Samuel L. Jackson in your story.” , I smiled and said “Yes, I did”.

I knew what she meant, many drivers looked to Cujo for a hand out “so to speak” rather than a “hand up”. While it was true this man probably heard more firsthand horror stories from the student trucking fleet, he could do little more than try to motivate them to dust themselves off and keep trying. Disregard the rumors, gossip and keep rolling.

It wasn’t any special treatment this man gave, it was what he didn’t say that clued me in that he carried a huge burden. I sensed this right away when I heard him speak at our orientation. I took the initiative to ask him to dispel rumors from day one about our bonuses, the team driving requirement and my reservations about teaming with “Tony”.

When my trainer brought me in short of segments to test out, it was Cujo who said “She got paid good money to teach you and she could not even complete your paperwork”! He saw that I wanted to learn the best way, I did not want to cut corners … it was me who asked to go with a second trainer to iron out the kinks of my poor training.

I waited several days for the second trainer but he never showed, it was Cujo who saw me roaming the halls a few days later and realized that trainer never came for me. It was Cujo who made sure I got a second trainer so I could pass.

When “Tony” had his meltdown, Cujo knew it would happen because he met him, he knew I had made a promise and would not break it. He tried to encourage me to be selfish and think about myself before teaming with “Tony” but I had to give it a shot, seeing how I did promise and we had gone to CDL School together.

When the company attempted to remove me from the truck and give it to “Tony”, it was Cujo who informed me what the correct wording was to utilize to prevent it from occurring again.

Unfortunately, we had one miscommunication that was very unfortunate. When I rode the bus back to re-team with “Mag” it was Easter Weekend. I arrived at 5pm on Friday, everyone had gone home or I would have stopped by to see Cujo.

Following the bleach incident I became aware that “MS” knew that “Mag” had recent problems and could be a potential threat to my safety. “MS” was inapproprately friendly and unfriendly to certain student truckers and this was common knowledge. She booked my tickets, she seated me on the truck with the people she knew were potentially violent or could hinder my success.

It was Cujo who told me “Mag is a crackhead” and “Do not tell “MS” Shit”. WOW!!!!

This was totally out of character for a man like him to use this language. He worked closely with “MS” who is the team coordinator. This was my only point of contact and he was telling me to avoid her at all costs!

He had regrets but with the weekly volume of students and the turnover how could he possibly keep up with it all? He shared just a few candid comments which helped me overcome obstacles, he gave me no special treatment. I sent others with simialr problems to him with this advice. “Cujo is not going to fix the problem, he can’t but he needs to know and then read between the lines of what he is saying to you. “Talk Less, Listen More”.

My last co-driver was a girl Cujo set me up with, after everything I had been through I tried one last time to team up but it was actually a test.

When I returned to the terminal after Hurricane Ike with “CC” I went to see Cujo who had recommended her to me the week before. I spoke with him and another fellow driver/trainer. I told him I was trying to let her take the bull by the horns but she was not stepping up. The trainer said “someone needs to be in charge, be the leader” Cujo interjected “She’s is a leader” meaning me. I was flattered but I admitted that if she does not want to be led it was only provoking her. I told him that her temperament was predisposed so I was trying to let her lead but she showed no initiative. I said “I’m not sure she really wants to drive”. Cujo said “That’s what I thought”.

It was a test! He set me up and he set her up.

I did not always get straight answers from Cujo and sometimes I took my questions elsewhere. I did not give up and he saw that.

I never told him about the story or the show because I did not want him to feel he was hiding something. I called him the evening of the the first Dan Rather Report and explained to him what the emails and qualcomm’s meant. Everyone was confused and many still have no idea there was a show.

He was calm as I told him and wanted to watch the show. Then toward the end of the conversation he said “Girl, you really got em goin around here…” he was absolutlely tickled that something was happening. He carried a very heavy burden.

With regards to the Million Mile Driver I mention in my story, he told me on many occasions “They are screwing her over” and from her when she heard of his passing, she said “He knew a lot of stuff and I know it ate him up”.

Cujo called me late one evening at out nowhere late on November 20th 2009, this was very much out of character for this gentleman who was very much “by the book”.

He wanted to see how I was and what my plans were for the future. He said things I have never heard him say and never imagined he would be the type to be that unguarded.

I didn’t know what to make of the conversation but when I received the news of his sudden passing on Christmas weekend the timing seems to coincide with a diagnosis he received.

Ever the optimist, I understand he was upbeat and downplayed his condition. He never said anything in our phone conversation about it but he spoke in a way that was out of the ordinary. He was clearly distressed. Of course I feel guilt that I did not press him, he obviously needed someone to talk to and I did not hear his wheel squeaking. He died from complications after a treatment for Cancer. It seems he had just been diagnosed with it around the time he called me.

He was a bright light of sunshine despite everything that was going on around him. I would not have been able to overcome the obstacles I faced as a student trucker without Mr. John Cooper, his optimism and few candid moments are key ingredients in my success.

Mr. Cooper passed away in his home in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He was 59. He was laid to rest in Montgomery Alabama. He was active with his church and community in numerous organizations including Big Brothers, Big Sisters Organization, the Boys and Girls Club.

Rest in Peace “Cujo” Thank You for touching my life.

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Dan Rather

Dan Rather Investigates Trucking

The Dan Rather Report Investigative Series into the Student Trucker Industry is available on iTunes. Three shows so far have been produced based on the clues I touched on from my Student Trucker Horror Story called:

 ” A Day in the Life of a Lady Trucker “.

The Dan Rather Report series into trucking began with Part 1 “Queen of the Road” , Part 2 “Truck Talk” and this FREE link is for Part 3 “Mind Your Loan Business“. It will only be good for 2 weeks.

The 2009 year end episode of Dan Rather Reports also includes “Queen of the Road” as one of the most controversial. Uh-Oh Spaghetti-O!

The other two shows had free links but those have expired. You can still buy these shows for $1.99 on iTunes. I have provided you a link HERE Once you download itunes to your computer you can shop online for Movies, Music and TV Shows. Just search the iTunes store for “Dan Rather Reports” and each title will appear. Scroll until you find the episodes you want.

It does take a bit of time to download them but they are saved on your computer to watch more than once.

This new episode called “Mind Your Loan Business” came out the same day as the unemployment numbers from Detroit were estimated at 50%, this makes me very sad to know that targeted recruitment is occuring in areas hit hardest by our economy.

I noticed this when I was in CDL training that there were targeted demographics in particularily high unemployment areas. I noticed that it was more about “Selling Loans” to go to CDL School not about making you a success a a trucker. Another thing that prospective students are not told is that even if you are recruited to train , you may not be able to stay employed after that period because freight does not frequently move from where you live. Many companies will not hire from areas like Michigan & South Florida but they will make you believe that when they sell the loan.

Truck Driver recruiting is a business, Student truckers are a business.

Please take the time to watch “Mind Your Loan Business” while this free link is available.

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                                    The US Xpress Incident

Let your conscience be your guide

Recently I read this comment: “If you don”t respect the person, respect the position”. Here is my question :  How many times are you supposed to R-E-S-P-E-C-T a position when you realize the position is using others who they are supposed to be representing?

     We are fortunate to live in America where we are permitted to voice our opinions. We are allowed to question authority, within reason.

    Since I began writing my student trucker story I have received many emails from people thanking me for taking the time to speak out and educate newcomers about potential obstacles they were not getting from participating in other forums.

   My desire to have a job like trucking was because I am at a place in my life where I want to be alone. I don’t want to be anyones Boss, Mother, Wife, or Girlfriend. I don’t want to be in charge of anything except me and my job. I want to work, be left alone and use my free time to do things I like to do.

   This journey into the trucking industry corruption should have stopped with my student trucker story but the level of misconduct was so great, I had to continue exploring & revealing what I found.

    Honestly, I found more than I can even stomach to print publically because the conduct is so gross.  My conscience as usual obligates me. I share just enough information for those who want understand how misleading recruitment advertising is before they get themselves in too far. These “Dog and Pony” Organizations are contributors to a dangerous set of circumstances already set in motion.

     The more revelations I have shared in this tale, those who had once Cyber-Stalked & attempted to Bully, even those who made Physical threats to my person are now blogging about how they are victims.

It’s funny how the tables turn. These same people who felt it was okay when they perceived me as a target small and weak justified their actions.  Now that same lynch mob seems to be crying “Victim” when faced with a Mouse that ROARED.

We elect people who make us promises to makes changes we hope will better our lives. We join organizations to support goals we believe in. What happens when we find those leaders are not doing the job they promised? What should we do when we find out they have lied, covered up and participated in misconduct that is egregious to the mission statement that we can no longer support them?

How many times do you catch someone in a flat out lie before you say enough!? How many promises before you go your own way?

What if those leaders are absent of ethics but the mission is so good and the level of confusion created so great that good intentions are being made fools?

It is only natural that as the topics I have unraveled are finally spoken about publically that ethical companies will want to sign on to fix the problem and no longer sweep it under the rug.

But sign up for what? With who?  Do people in Supply Chain Logistics want to be associated with Trucking Companies who have no level of conduct to prevent Rape, Violence, Harassment and Retaliation in their training?

Is sponsoring a “Feel Good” organization like “Women in Trucking” enough to slap the logo on your site and move on?

Increased Recruitment of Women into Trucking and Transportation is admirable but the longtime problem is not gone. This needs to be publically addressed, training needs to be implemented and enforced.

It is not my job to do this but unfortunately no one who is getting paid to do this job wants to take on the topic because it is unpopular.

This is a dilemma, if fitting into a primarily male dominated industry is more important than the mission statement for which your non-profit status indicates you exist. The result of compliant complacency: Rape, Violence, Retaliation. That’s sorta hard for me to walk away from. I don’t want to “fit in” if that is the trade off.

Truthfully, there are more Men who support the notion of better training and support for both Men and Women entering trucking. The problem is they are not getting the proper information so the entire mission is a lose-lose for everyone.

I was confused myself when I joined “Women in Trucking” and was stalked online. I was told quite frankly that they have seen “my kind” before and they chase “those kind” off.

“My kind” being people who think women should not be recruited into an industry where they are put in highly dangerous intimate situations to be raped or beat up. Which results in the added trauma of retaliation for reporting it to their HR Department.

There were so many conflicting messages I needed to understand to discover the truth. The primary voice on the WIT forum was never Ellen Voie but rather Sandy Long who was my main attacker.

Sandy has a good deal of trucking experience any newcomer would be fortunate to find but the professionalism was lacking.

It seemed from an outsider’s perspective that Sandy resented Ellen and she was taking it out on me. The evidence was in the posts Ellen made during that period and the responses from Sandy.

It was disheartening because Ellen’s disconnected nature to the seriousness of the issues and Sandy’s passion for trucking were both misdirected, until an issue came about with Canadian Trucking Magazine which depicted Women Truckers in a manner that most everyone agreed was in poor taste.

This was the first time I saw the small group of Women actually work effectively to make a difference in what image was being projected. It was a success for “Women in Trucking” despite the fact that the response from the magazine showed they did not “get it”.

That weekend I attended the Las Vegas Truck Show to meet with an international documentary filmmaker and this was the first time I met Ellen Voie of “Women in Trucking”.

I happen to sitting in the booth of an APU manufacturer located next to the US Xpress Recruitment Booth and noticed they not only were handing out WIT brochures but also had girls in their booth that were dressed in less than models from the Canadian Truck Magazine.

I thought it was odd that Ellen Voie who was one aisle away would not say anything being that she had just had this victory. When I went to introduce myself she right away stated she felt that the WIT member who wrote the original complaint had overreacted.

Is this my advocate? She is apologizing? She is embarrassed in some way?

The filmmaker came to me later and asked me what I thought and I said honestly, I don’t know what to make of her. She really does not seem to care about Women in Trucking to me.

The filmmaker, who had spent several days there filming truckers confided that the general consensus by Women Truckers she had filmed in Vegas was that Ellen Voie was doing nothing but promoting herself.

I was still unclear, I snapped pictures of the US Xpress booth but I said nothing to Ellen.   

I was not aware that a woman from Twitter named Kathleen Wells had taken photos of the US Xpress Booth and had sent them to Jason Cox at @TruckDriverNews who at the time was working closely with a group of activist drivers.

Jason made a post with the photos in two places, his personal blog and on the Lexington Kentucky Examiner. I felt the posts were too hasty but they did reflect what actual Truckers were saying about Ellen Voie.

I’d felt some of Jason’s remarks in his blog and other forums where he posted should have included some additional research before he posted the articles. I told Jason I could not comment on what he said. I had also had an argument with another fellow who jumped to quickly on the bandwagon about Ellen Voie’s intentions. I was not clear what was going on yet and I didn’t want to endorse frenzy. This is a very serious matter to me; it is not an ego-driven mission.

After I left Vegas I received an email from Ellen about renewing my membership. I called Donna Smith from “Ask the Trucker” to ask her if she was going to renew and she said “No, she had seen and heard enough over there”. I was still optimistic and in order to post on the forum I had to remain a member. I also knew at some point Ellen would show who she was committed to, Women or Sponsors.

I had just received a copy of Logistics Quarterly that had an article by Ellen Voie on the very topic of Convention Exhibit Booths using females to recruit dressed in the manner as I had just seen in Las Vegas.  I decided to call her cell and take the opportunity to ask her point blank about CRST being her sponsor and why she was not confident enough to pull her brochures from the US Xpress Booth just days after she pulled her articles from the Canadian Truck Magazine for basically the same thing.

First she told me that there was more than one division to CRST. So I asked her which division was her sponsor. She seemed confused and as it turned out it was the division named in the sexual harassment lawsuit.

I then asked her if she saw the US Xpress booth and she said yes and they were also her sponsor. I did not know this. I said why not just say, “Hey, I’m really not wanting my brochures here because this marketing message is not what we want to portray under the current circumstances”.

She admitted she had board members who felt she should be more aggressive with US Xpress about their marketing package but she said she even went to have beers with the marketing director and he said that this is what works for them and they had no plans to change it.

Ellen Voie went on to say that she just had to do it her own way despite the admission that she was feeling pressure from her own board. I told her I didn’t think a marketing director would take her too seriously if she was out for beers with him and asking him to not use women in hot pants to recruit. I told her she probably had more power than she realizes but she has to use it or be used. Ellen stated again she just had to do things her way, I said “Well, I will do things my way and see what we can do.”

After that conversation I called Jason Cox and sent him the photo I had taken to add to the one Kathleen Wells had already sent of the “Camo Girls” which Jason mislabeled as “Cameo Girls” (another story) and the article was circulated on Twitter. The article was called: “Women in Trucking are Truck Drivers Too

Jason had told me that Ellen had subscribed to his blog after he had written his first post about her. He had received an email from a Canadian Job Recruiter in response to that post which was meant to defend her. Jason didn’t know what to make of it but it made sense later because I was suspecting she benefited from her recruitment strategies not from making changes to existing conditions. A job placement agency would perceive Ellen Voie very differently than actual Women Truckers experiencing a trauma. He also had a comment from a man but it was obvious to us it was not really a man. The IP address was from Kansas City Missouri. We both concluded who that was, one of my Cyber-Bullies from WIT.

Of the two articles written by Jason Cox about the US Xpress Booth the comments on his blog drew some interesting debate on the topic and he had a couple hundred hits to the post in a short time. The final message being, the spokes models did less recruiting and more entertaining of the marketing guys. The Female US Xpress representative looked uncomfortable and embarrassed to have to sit in the booth appearing like a 5th wheel on a double date.

US Xpress from my understanding has Sexual Harassment Training and I had spoken to a driver/former trainer who told me quite a bit about their policies. He was surprised really that his company was represented this way in a convention.

As it turned out, so was the upper management at US Xpress who received the Article that Jason Cox wrote using the photographs from Kathleen Wells.

I learned that Ellen Voie utilized the article from the Lexington Examiner by Jason Cox without the comments from Kathleen Wells but with her photographs a few days later on the WIT forum. This post like many others since I have been exposing this story has now been removed. In it she stated she forwarded the article to the US Xpress brass and they responded that it would not happen again. WOW! How easy was that? Right On… Right?

Seeing is believing though: In August 2009 at the Dallas Truck Show the US Xpress booth had Women in Khakis and Polo Shirts with a Wheel of Fortune game as a recruiting tool for giveaways. They had a line of people of all shapes sizes and genders at that booth.

What a testament! They were made aware, they adapted and they found success. Simple Courage to take action was all that was needed.

The Dallas Truck Show was also where the Dan Rather Producers met me for the first time and Beverly Petersen from the yet to be released “Bully in the Workplace” Documentary who interviewed me and Ellen Voie. WATCH ELLEN VOIE REMARKS HERE

Ellen was also filmed by the Dan Rather Producers but she did not know they knew about me.

We had our plates full in Dallas because the recently snubbed Widow Hope Rivenburg who arrived with 5 month old twins and a 2 year old in tow were also in Dallas to promote Jason’s Law – The Safe Trucker Parking Bill with very little help from the Big Guns of the trucking industry.

In fact, she was actually told NOT to come to Dallas by “leaders” in the industry meant to silence her passion to see that the truck parking shortage should be addressed so no other family would have to endure the senseless murder as she and her children have to live with.

The efforts to recreate a single female trucker with a dog was also apparent as I mention in my @TruckinDogKarma post by the trucking Industry prior to the Dallas convention.

This is why “Karma” was crowned the “iPhone Trucker App Mascot”, not for money, not for fame … only because all sides of the industry were trying to recreate me in media and make an more complacent, accommodating @TruckerDesiree. The reason is that each layer I have explored has exposed a good deal of unethical behavior and I have been opening a can of worms for a lot of people in trucking.

Anyone who has been following me on Twitter knows I have a little marketing magic up my sleeve which squashed those attempts.  The next strategy was to attack my credibility and/or take credit for whatever I was able to achieve from my “Bleating” as @DiamondsMama40 refers to it. (Gloria Torbich My first online stalker from WIT aka “Greenpete”)

By the time of the Dallas Truck Show, I had a falling out with Jason Cox who from what I understand received some “persuasion”.

The once #1 advocate & Champion for “Jason’s Law” was now against it. Shortly thereafter he emerged promoting a membership to an organization he could not afford, for an industry he cannot participate in any longer and was now a “Women in Trucking” Supporter. Add that up yourself.

I had been invited to the “Women in Trucking” hospitality room but I didn’t want to attend unless we could crash with Hope Rivenburg and press Ellen Voie on why she did not support safe trucker parking or this young Widow when she herself was once a trucker’s wife.

The events were so tightly scheduled that Donna Smith and I opted to go to the Midnight Trucking offerings instead but ran into Ellen Voie in the hallway who had a small group of people with her.

She seemed nervous to see me and was quick to say her hospitality room shindig was already over, I had no intentions of going but for some reason she said wanted to let me know that info. Then she became very excited and said “Desiree, did you see the US Xpress Booth?” I replied “Yes, I did” then Ellen threw up her arms and said before her hallway audience “That’s another Success for Women in Trucking”. The same incident and company’s actions that she defended were now HER victory for their change of “recruiting tactics!

I was stunned and looked at Donna Smith of “Ask the Trucker” Our collective thoughts were “No She Didn’t!” but the eyes of the bystanders where what really got me. These were people who truly believe Ellen Voie is an advocate for change in the trucking industry. These are people who want to believe they have signed up for a courageous leader and she flat out lied.

This is the Trucking Woman’s Advocate? Having beers with “the boys” and agreeing with their scantily dressed women recruiting tactics in Las Vegas! Using her convention time to solicit reality shows rather than discuss better training, violence awareness and other compliance tools available NOW to help Women entering Trucking become successful? I paid a membership for this?

Not only that, she disappeared very quickly after she said it and it wasn’t until the next day I learned the Dan Rather Producers were in the Hospitality room filming her speech.

Ellen Voie was eager to be filmed by Beverly Petersen for the “Bully in the Workplace” Documentary; I was there when she accepted without missing a beat. I think she felt very confident about her statements at the time not knowing Dan Rather knew about me.

Ellen Voie has a gift to repackage something and claim it as her success but the integrity is missing. The performance I saw her give in the hallway that night for those sponsors and finding out that the “Jason’s Law” brochures we asked her display were put under her table were as much about her personal character as I ever wanted to know.

  I never posted on the WIT site again. I was truly disgusted that this person was the representative for members and sponsors who truly believe she gives a damn. I am unclear if there are WIT board members who have a true vision to enforce change or if the entire organization has been created simply to cover up and ease the impact AFTER the EEOC makes charges on trucking companies.

Unfortunately unethical behavior in the corporate world is acceptable, that is why I choose to drive a truck despite my many talents beyond driving.

Street smarts only gets you so far in trucking, you have to know a little corporate Genghis Khan action also, that’s what I‘ve learned about the trucking industry. “Industry” is a KEYWORD, that is a big difference from “Driver”.

The precursor to “Women in Trucking” appears to be “The National and International Women’s Trucking Association, or WTA” and their Mission seems to address the issue for Women Truckers facing Violence.

The named President: Sandy Long with the following Mission:

     “We are the first National & International Women’s Trucking Association dedicated to the betterment of Women in the Trucking Industry in North America.

The WTA was formed to provide women truck drivers a safe and secure site in order that they can find knowledge to help them become professional drivers, instill in them the professionalism needed to promote the positive aspects of the industry and to give them aid as they need it to combat sexual harassment and/or problems inherent to their jobs and personal lives.

Furthermore, we will promote the trucking industry
by providing accurate data, statistics, and
information to the industry and the general public in
regards to women in the trucking industry by internet, personal contact, appearances at seminars, and in contacting industry and governmental leaders.”

So what happened?

This organization never seemed to take off . Did someone come in and encourage complacency to get these ladies to quiet down? Is “Women in Trucking” just a “Feel Good” Organization to ease the blow after the fact? Is this a cover up organization?

Now that Anne Ferro is in office at the FMCSA and Ellen Voie got a “Hook Up” can “Women in Trucking” members trust their spokeswoman to speak up? Is this just a Photo Op? A chance to give away free T-Shirts, take a picture for the Guinness World Record Books at the Salute to Women behind the Wheel” for the Mid-America Trucking Show?

This is a very serious matter when someone who you elect to represent you is not addressing the major concern which is Rape, Violence & Retaliation UNTIL I made it a potential marketing opportunity. There are no guarantees that any “Best Practices” being phished out will be enforced.  Even greater issue is when pressed on this topic Ellen Voie is uncomfortable, uninformed and dismissive just as she was with the “Trucker Buddy” Pedophile incident. She is not equipped nor does she want to be for these matters, but that will not make them go away.

Ellen Voie revoked my membership when she learned I would be on the Dan Rather Report investigative series. The very revealing Bully in the Workplace Video truly exposes the truth about what Ellen Voie believes which is that there really isn’t that much of a problem.

A woman who is this uncomfortable with the truth should not be an advocate. There is no reason women truckers should be buying memberships to be represented in this manner. Support and Enforcement should not vary depending on marketability unless you have ZERO Conscience.

I keep hoping a true leader will emerge who has the balls for this mission. I do not wish to spend my every waking moment providing a conscience for people who don’t seem to have one. I will continue to expose this outside of the trucking industry to human rights groups, logistics and supply chain professionals until I find true leaders who care to make a difference.

Too many people are being intentionally misled.

A number of  Women are coming forward to write their stories and make you tube accounts of their experiences.

This will be continued ….

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