Nonsense Shopping List Prank

Fancy Boy lip glitter, fish poison, left-handed washing glove, turtle mix, non-alcoholic whiskey, daddy butter, and an eye removal kit. These are just a few of the items Greg Benson and Ryan Smith of Mediocre Films asked employees of Target and Walmart to help them find on a recent shopping errand. Also, Greg wrote Ryan's list without Ryan reading it before Ryan entered the store, and vice versa. (Via Laughing Squid)


  1. The best part of this prank is how they wrote each other’s list. Their own laughter when reading the items made me laugh so hard.

  2. If an employee was sharp enough to roll with this kind of prank during an already stressful enough day it’s arguable they wouldn’t be employed by a Walmart.  Pick on someone your own size.

    1. way to lump all of us wage slaves into one bucket, believe it or not, there are those of us who are quite intelligent and yet are still (under)employed in the retail sector…  But thanks for defending us idiots anyhow–mighty big of you.

  3. Wouldn’t make a difference for at least 3 years now I have had a 100% failure rate when asking an employee in any major retail chain where a certain is.

    And as others have stated people in the service industry should not be the target of pranks.  They are there trying to earn some money at a job they hate, leave them alone.

    1. –for at least 3 years now I have had a 100% failure rate when asking an employee in any major retail chain where a certain (item?) is.—

      Talking about a statement full of holes. You could have visited one store in three years. You could be speaking Taushiro, the rarest language in the world. But if the statement is true, then the problem is you.

      I call B.S. Maybe you’re asking where the foie gras is when your standing in the middle of Toys-R-Us?  The problem could be that you can’t remember where the hell you are. 

      “Excuse me, Miss! Can I please get a full stack of  blueberry radial tires, 4 car mats over easy and a side of 10w30?”  And you probably didn’t even tip her.

  4. Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha!!! Hysterical! Go and pull pranks on people who who are working to support themselves and their families. What a hoot! Hey, their time isn’t worth much, they work at Walmart after all. And their dignity? What dignity? They work at Walmart after all and we all know that they must be somehow deficient if they have to work there. Yes, I know, I have no sense of humor, I should chill out, (fill in your own slam here).

    I really think that there is a great amount of dignity, an almost sacredness, in the work we do to provide for ourselves and our families. The paths that take us to a job at Walmart or producing films are varied, complex, and usually interesting. To go and make peoples lives and work harder for your enjoyment is obscene. You may be fortunate enough to have a “creative” job and see yourself as somehow better than the blue-collar people who serve you in many ways. In this economy many at Walmart are thankful to have their job and it may not be their only job. Now you come to waste their time and mock them. Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha!!! Hysterical!

        1. Don’t you know man? Making fun and bullying people is what ALL THE COOL KIDS ARE DOING. So come on, have  a chuckle and let’s all belittle the retail employees for no good reason!

        2. You assume that I’ve never worked a bad job and that people who work bad jobs don’t appreciate the value of distraction. But I have, and we do.

          Let the internet record also reflect that you are also the one who assumes that the teenagers who must work such jobs are stupid

          You and JohnBerry define, here, a form of sanctimonious pity for poor people that deprives them of anything except victimhood and the false narratives (“dignity”, “sanctity”) used to justify the awfulness of bad jobs.

          Which is not made worse because someone comes up to you with a nonsense shopping list.

          1. Well said Rob. When I worked retail I realized it was mostly pointless exploitive bullshit, and so I valued anything that broke it up. The soul crushing part is the repetition and interacting according to implicit and explicit scripts with fellow humans. I would have loved it if these guys had “pranked” me. 

      1. I think it’s funny that you’ve removed all the replies to your comment. At any rate, enjoy your job where you don’t have to interact with people like that for 7 something an hour! 

        1. I haven’t removed anything. I don’t care what you whiny concern weenies think, except to ridicule you. When I worked jobs like this, I prayed for customers like that.

          1. Hey Rob, Sorry I got this started. I thought it might be a good conversation to have here. I thought it was boingboing appropriate. Wrong as it may seem to some I really believe in respecting people and however they pay their bills. I last worked in retail at Kinko’s a lifetime ago and we had some very good times interspersed with capricious management edicts that made life miserable. I have been a waiter and worked at a huge retail store among others. I also have nieces, nephews, and friends who currently work in retail and you would not believe the crap they have to put up with from both customers and management. When I saw that video I needed to respond. I didn’t want to promote any animosity. And I am sorry I have.

            Maybe I am a “concern weenie”. I have lived long enough to know that the world needs more people willing to say that abuse and mockery of others, regardless of how benign or humorous it seems, is something we can do without. People who feel it is OK to mock and demean others are the same type that assumes the service person in front of them is there because they are stupid. And is any of that good for our world?

          2. No need to explain or apologize for  a position you hold. I for one don’t care for the “content” of this post. But I like the posting of it, itself. It has opened up a fantastic dialogue, and that’s what BB is about. Not all posts are soft fuzzy kittens and ice-cream; some people are allergic to both….Yes? 

          3. Palomino, I thought that BB was a place where it could be discussed. Were some of the products in the lists funny? Sure. My apology is not for my views. It is for misjudging what could be discussed without causing feuds. Push-back, I understand, accept, and appreciate. There is nothing special or sacred about anything I think or say. Name-calling and ridicule are a different story. Maybe I am becoming a wimp in my old age. Maybe I just think there is a better way.

          4. Hey JohnBerry, there’s nothing to apologize for. 

            However, when you start a response thread with so much sarcasm, later taking refuge in the piety of “good conversation” isn’t going to be taken seriously.

      2. Hi Rob, Just wrap up and address two things. You said: “when you start a response thread with so much sarcasm, later taking refuge in the piety of “good conversation” isn’t going to be taken seriously”. While there was sarcasm in my post it was only a part of my post. Good conversation can encompass the deadly serious as well as sarcasm and still be good conversation. So I wasn’t taking refuge, I was there already.

        Later you commented: “You and JohnBerry define, here, a form of sanctimonious pity for poor people that deprives them of anything except victimhood and the false narratives (“dignity”, “sanctity”) used to justify the awfulness of bad jobs.”

        I have thought long and hard about the work we do during our lives. Our society has become so stratified, in part, because we view some jobs as inherently better than others and, being human, we extrapolate that the people doing the jobs are better. Where is the victimhood in thinking that the person waiting on tables is equal in dignity and value to that of a writer, film producer, or surgeon?

        Now, are some jobs “bad” and “awful”? From my perspective, yes. Do I want to collect garbage? No way. But I know that the guy who collects my garbage loves his job. I know because I have talked to him. On the other hand he has had numerous partners over the years who absolutely hated the job and split at the first chance.

        Thanks for engaging me in this discussion. I do appreciate criticism. Of course I much prefer it when people simply agree with me.

    1. When I worked at K-Mart for a couple of years, I prayed for weird shit to happen like this. In fact, everyone except upper management prayed for it. Why are you siding with the ruling class, man?

      1. If you want to F with the ruling class, play a prank on them.  I don’t know when you worked at Kmart, but I dealt with crowds at Best Buy and Old Navy in the last decade, and I doubt you had to deal with fistfights or pepper spray, or just the general insanity black Friday has become.  Even if those stores weren’t that bad, this prank is dick. Play it on another day and it might be funny, not the busiest damn day of the year. 

        1. I doubt you had to deal with fistfights or pepper spray, or just the general insanity black Friday has become.

          The stores themselves* create and generate the insanity to which you refer. Your anger is misguided. They could just have Black Friday-week but then that doesn’t fit well with their marketing plan.

          * I think the moron cop at the the center of the UC Davis incident deserves blame for the pepper spray. Did such behaviour happen prior to America’s Finest demonstrating that it is perfectly acceptable to use pepper spray in non-violent situations?ª

          ª Rhetorical question.

  5. I haven’t watched the Wal-Mart video, but in the Target video the male employee seems to take the whole thing in good humor.  In fact, there’s another video of the bald guy trying his list on a different employee and the first employee starts taping it with his phone.

  6. What’s so funny here? It is a waste of sales-person’s time and an inconvenience to other customers with legitimate needs.


      1. long time retail employee–personally, when we would have customers come in and do shit like this, I thought it was hilarious–my day is boring enough helping your mom find toaster waffles, if some kid (or adult) wants to come in and get some yuks by being absurd, I’ll probably laugh along with it if the material’s any good. 

  7. The shame of it is that the employees of those stores probably aren’t allowed to walk away from customers – so they have no choice but to stand and entertain people being jerks. No, this isn’t funny. It’s hard enough to work at a job like that. Harder still to have to be polite to a customer when you know they’re laughing at you. Even worse to discover that they’d later made a movie for their company that went viral.

    I wonder if the ‘pranksters’ bothered to get permission from the employees when this was done, too…?

    Not for nothing that their production company is called ‘Mediocre Films.’ Thumbs down.

  8. What a condescending bunch you guys are. It’s a harmless gag. What’s genuinely offensive (and demonstrably false – watch the WalMart woman react to a request for “cat remover”) is to assume that anyone working at WalMart or Target is not sharp enough to play along with this, or that their job is so terrible that they must hate it.

    None of you ever held down a retail job? Maybe in your college days, or while you were figuring out what you wanted to do with yourself? I sure did. Something like this would have brightened my day considerably.

    1. Except that the employees who gave snappy replies or incorrect answers risk being fired. Because we all know how forgiving big chain store corporate heads can be when it comes to frontline staff, don’t we?

      1. Really? Show your work?

        I can’t find any instances of WalMart employees being fired for being pranked. I didn’t search exhaustively, so maybe I’m wrong.

        Fired for *pulling* pranks, I found. Likewise fired for posting pro-medical marijuana videos, fired for getting on the PA and telling all black people to leave the store, and even fired for disarming a gunman.

        It’s a silly gag. It’s harmless, unless you count delaying the “legitimate needs” as actual harm, like wrwetzel up there.

        In short, lighten up.

    2. I worked in retail for over 10 years.  I don’t think it’s very funny.  Maybe they could put their energy into actually “pranking” people with some power.

      1. I did 9 years in the retail mines, mostly at Zellers (that’s like the Canadian equivalent of K-Mart) and a big box style grocery store. I think it’s hysterical.

        Most of the people I worked with were not dumb, or miserable wage slaves, just at a place in their lives where that kind of retail job was what made sense. These guys were good-natured in their video, and unfailingly polite. That doesn’t seem like a terribly high bar to clear, but you and I both know that 90% of the people they helped that day couldn’t meet the same standard.

        1. Most of the people I worked with were not dumb, or miserable wage slaves, just at a place in their lives where that kind of retail job was what made sense.

          Exactly, which is why they should be treated with dignity and not ‘fucked with’.  I actually thought some of the items themselves were funny, but I don’t think the prank itself is very funny.  Sorry.  If you would have liked this, then more power to you.  There’s a relationship here between pranksters and workers that I don’t like at all.

  9. Oh, come on. Are you people telling me that “daddy butter” didn’t make you literally laugh out loud?

  10. “ready-made toast”?
    The clerk should’ve asked “freeze-dried” or “frozen”, then, whatever the answer was, say “Sorry, just ran out.”

    1. Ready-made toast? Glad you asked:

        1. This type is sold in supermarkets across Australia – and I’ve always thought it was funny. Not only is it ready-made toast, it’s mini and it’s TOASTS!

        2. As I speak I’m munching on some skorpor kardemumma (cardamom crisp rolls) from Ikea (“wholemeal” variety is on their website) that are quite delicious with your favorite toppings, and though quite simple are not something I could particularly easily make myself. Apparently this type of thing is quite popular in Sweden, as there are several similar products available at Ikea.

          I’m not Swedish but I don’t find this concept very strange… of course, frozen texas toast type things are different and at least a little bit ridiculous :)

          What I thought of, though, was Powdered Toast Man from Ren & Stimpy.

  11. Add me to the list that thinks this is obnoxious. People who do stuff like this always think they’re funnier than they are.

      1. Well, good comedians certainly have.  After watching them set up the prank at the beginning, I’m guessing that they’re some budding/hobbyist sketch group…….

        edit. Ah I see it’s buzzmarketing for a candid camera tv show……

  12. I worked at target for a short stint. If anybody had come to the store and asked me for “Fish Poison” or “Avatar on VHS” because “I don’t like the quality of the DVD” it would have been the highlight of a menial existence. Most of the employees in the video seem pretty entertained.

    1. I worked at the (long gone) K-Mart in Boulder, CO. You and I both know what a treat it would have been to help someone with a shopping list like that.  The people who are complaining have either never worked at a K-Mart type place or they are sadly lacking humor circuitry. I also strongly suspect that the people who are complaining here are the kinds of humorless jerks that made my job at K-Mart miserable.

      1. Since it is an either/or (you know, black and white) and I have worked for national retail companies, that must mean that I and everyone who objects, am “sadly lacking humor circuitry” and a “humorless jerk”. Thanks Mark.

          1. Being able to appreciate humor and being able to tell jokes are two very different things. If we could all do it then we would never have heard of Lenny Bruce or George Carlin.

          2. But OK, here goes:

            Two men went out fishing one fine day in a rented boat. They caught an amazing 42″ fish. ” Let’s come out again tomorrow but be sure to mark this great fishing spot on the lake,” said one of the men to the other.

            The following day, they are on the way to pick up the boat and the same man asks “Did you remember to mark that great fishing spot?”

            The other man replied ” Yes, I put a massive “X” underneath the boat”.

            “You silly fool” said the first guy “What happens if we are given a different boat

  13. What a strident, humorless bunch we got here. Did your tour bus from Miserableville break down on this site? A couple minutes of weirdness for the sake of a good gag was almost certainly a break from arguing with the half drunk dad who demands to see a manager because he can’t get the 42″ flatscreen display model for $150 instead of $200. Or catching the woman who keeps changing her baby in the diaper aisle with pilfered diapers…

  14. Just have to add another voice for humour.  I struggle to see how this is denigrating to the staff – retail is boring, a little lightness is a good thing.

    It’s funny because words are funny.

  15. The Ron Paul workout video got me. I could visualize him wearing those Eastern Block 80s tennis shoes, sporting a black uni-suit and struggling to touch his toes to a jubilant performance of “To Arms in Dixie” from a nearby boombox.

  16. I just laid the gesso for that oil painting.  It’s on.  Dibs.  I’ll post here when I’m done.

    EDIT: * and gibs.

  17. This is why big box retail works best in the South. How do people get shopping carts and those hovaround power chairs upstairs and downstairs? Both stores said they had  an upper and lower level, Where do they have multilevel discount shoppingplexes at?

    1. I’ve been to several two-story Target stores. There are at least four or five of them here in Southern California and most major metropolitan areas will have them as far as I know (I think there are some in the NYC area). Not sure about multi-level Wal Marts, though, never seen one of those.

      There are escalators in the Targets that have a separate cart escalator in between the standard ones that the carts lock in to. It’s a pretty clever system, but I once witnessed someone’s cart full of stuff go crashing down the entire thing, so not foolproof :)

    2. We have a lot of multilevel Targets in Southern California. They have special escalators that can move shopping carts up and down, and they also have elevators.

  18. JohnBerry: You’re crying about Black & White-ness, but you broke out “sacredness” and “obscene” in your first post. Jussayin’. I do agree that you are in no way Carlin, but then again, that’s an unattainable dream for most of us…

    1. The sacred part is how I view work and may be a bit of a stretch for most people to see it as such. But, we don’t know what a person is going through in their personal lives or on the job. Life is complex and who needs pranksters making it more so? We don’t know how a boss will view your interaction with a prankster who posts it to YouTube. I have worked in retail and have seen some crazy and capricious reactions to things that were said (or how they were said) to customers. Is it really OK for us to go to someones place of employment and pull pranks on them? Or is it only OK to do it to people who work in retail? Easy and weak targets. Why not try to prank a cop? A surgeon? A bus driver? A pilot? A construction worker? Oh, I see, those are “real” and “serious” jobs. As humorless as it makes me sound I stick by my initial assessment: “To go and make peoples lives and work harder for your enjoyment is obscene.”

      1. Wow.  I suppose you could copy the footage and dub in “Adaggio for Strings”, if it’ll make you feel better.

        Here’s a joke for you: A man goes to his local pool, suits up, and dives into the deep end. Moments later he frantically pulls himself out, marches over to the Lifeguard, and declares that the water is too (perhaps obscenely) wet.

        So the Lifeguard sets him on fire.

      2. My father became a Jehovah’s Witness. I threatened to sever our relationship if he continued to try and preach to people at their places of employment. I drove a city bus for awhile, and that’s how I found out what he was doing. He would ride the bus and preach to the drivers, one of my fellow drivers complained to me and I figured out it was my own father. He haunts truck stops now, he actually knocks on drivers’ doors, like a prostitute. We don’t talk often. 

        Pranksters like this are taking up the clerks time, time they need to help people who really need help. 

        Recently, BB posted a group of people  invading Best Buy wearing the same color and style shirts the Best Buy employees wear. That story pissed me off.

  19. What these kind of stunts say to me is that there’s little respect for these people or their jobs. It just seems tone-deaf. Don’t these jobs suck enough without internet pranksters wasting their time?

  20. Sorry Guys. Boing Boing has the unique ability to attract discriminating readers. I’m one of them. 

    I’m from Seattle Washington. In the late 80’s there was (and maybe still is) a radio stating called Young Country KYCW-FM. During the Christmas  holidays they had an actor (or one of them) disguising their voice as a sweet old man when calling stores searching for a gift for his grandchildren. He reads off of his hilarious “Do You Have…..” list:

    …a Flaming Barbie Fun House?

    …a box of David Duke Crayola Crayons, the one that comes in 64 shades of white?

    I can’t prove it. but I recognize some of the “unique” things you’re asking for.

  21. i’m in the camp of people who found this not funny — and the point that all the people who are saying “learn to laugh a little!” are missing is that this was done on Black Friday — these poor workers probably had to leave directly from dinner on thursday to clock in and be ready for 10pm openings, possibly after cooking dinner all day for their family. if it was on a regular day, sure, it’s funny — but to prank already hardworking people on one of the worst days of the year, shopping wise, is just a dick move.

  22. Ordinarily, I would find this at least a little bit funny….but like a lot of other commentors I worked for 10+ years in retail, and while I might have personally like a bit of a diversion like this, my bosses and corporate overlords would almost undoubtedly find a way to hold this kind of thing against the retail worker who was caught up in it.  One of my co-workers (off the clock by the way) heard a lady being beaten up inside of a camper trailer parked inside of our establishment (we had a drive through lumber yard).  He risked his life to get her douchebag abusive husband off of her before she was killed and got canned for his effort.  That’s the kind of “humor” and “understanding” you get from management and corporate officers in most retail outlets.  This kind of stuff (especially if it goes viral) can and will cost people their jobs and livelihoods.  It would have been funnier if they had asked a separate clerk for each item, instead of wasting the time of just a few individuals (which can and will be used against employees for letting customers “waste their time”, or for not getting assigned tasks completed) and/or blurred the faces of the employees so they could not be identified.

    1. tldr; Beating a spouse in a camper van = presenting a list of funny items to a store employee.

  23. I work at one of these big box stores. I already had a prank played on me, I had to leave my spouse and child Thanksgiving day and work until 3 in the morning.  I spent my Thanksgiving evening telling throngs of angry shoppers that they had to wait until 10pm to buy a $3 toaster.  I then ran a malfunctioning cash register while angrier mobs yelled at me because their consumer orgy crashed our system.  I had to post his comment under a false name because if I didn’t my employer would fire me and we wouldn’t be able to pay rent next month.  Hilarious.

  24. I work retail and I found it hilarious.

    It did make me wonder if some of the people asking for ridiculous things in the past were messing with me. Definitely have had people ask for VHS in recent years.

    When people ask or say ridiculous stuff it becomes the laugh of the day in the break room. Like the guy that told us he was cleaning his dvds in the toilet. Or the woman that called and asked for naked aerobics movies.

    Spices up the day.

  25.    I am honestly shocked at how uptight people are about these videos! I’ve worked my share of crappy jobs (yes, some jobs are just crappy – honest work, but crappy) and been underemployed probably as often as not, yet I found them very funny. My fellow minions and I would try to prank each other in order to relieve ourselves from the drudgery; we were thrilled that it came from outsiders, the rare occasions it did happen. To this day, even when working for complete tyrants, I still try to joke with and prank in good humor my coworkers. We just have to be more sly about it so we don’t get canned…. 

  26. My face hurts.  I cannot cry for the other consumers who lost a few precious moments of shopping to these shenanigans. 

  27. Would have been all the more awesome if they had forged a weekly flyer with some of these items on it to show the employee.  “Look, Daddy Butter $0.99, page 5”

  28. wow, someone poked a stick in the concern troll nest!!! they are buzzing like mad.

    apparently asking a store employee where non-existant humorous items are is mean spirited but pouncing on someone for posting a blog post about it even if the poster wasn’t directly involved with the videos is a moronic civil duty.

    concern troll guide to dickishness:
    wasting a target/walmart employees time with good humor = dick move
    wasting everyone who reads this blogs time with whiny posts = somehow better

  29. Sheesh, folks need to lighten up, don’t let the holiday stress get you! You never enjoyed the sweet absurdity of Candid Camera or listened to Coyle and Sharpe “The Impostors” (Google that one!!)? It’s about the good-natured reactions of the people you ask, not about the jokester putting something over on someone to one-up them. 

    I’ve had plenty of dumb and boring jobs, but it wasn’t the folks working there that were dumb and boring, just the job: awake and funny customers are always better than narrow-minded complainy whiners (or bosses), it gets the shift to go by more quickly! If I’m working one of those jobs, I’m getting paid by the hour anyway — I’d rather interact with a funny customer for 15 minutes than stack toilet paper, it still looks like I’m helping someone and I’m still going home at a set time.And I used to pull stuff like this all the time as a kid with my friends, and sometimes still do. Go to the grocery store with change for a dime and try to buy one grape as a sampler. They can’t weigh it. We used to go into the sporting goods department at Gemco (now Target) and innocently ask the nice old lady behind the counter which rifle made the loudest noise: she replied so sweetly that she hadn’t fired the guns herself and didn’t know but they do check them at the factory. We are subjected to so much randomly tragic and cruel absurdity in the modern crazy world, a little light-hearted creative absurdity can go a long way on a dull day! 

  30. …”And then we made a big joke out of these working class people trying not to get yelled at by their manager. It was awesome!”

  31. Having worked for WalMart, I didn’t find these vids particularly funny.  Not because I found it insensitive, but because I’d get dumber / funnier / more perplexing questions from customers all day, every day.  And with 97 billion different SKUs in the store and the ever-desperate machinations of marketers trying to make a buck, it’s always possible we’ve started carrying daddy butter or fish poison and I just don’t know it (yet).  Heck, the other day I discovered that we’re now carrying “moisturizing socks”.  Who’d a-thought?

  32. Thread summary: “Everyone needs to have the same lack of humor as me or you’re dumb and insensitive!”


    And yes, I’ve worked retail.

  33. All of the pissing and moaning people in this thread need to chill the f out. It’s a joke. No one was hurt. No one’s time was wasted (except the video creators, arguably). No one was belittled, or talked down to until you arrived to voice your opinion and suggest by your indignant rage that this is s slight to people who work in retail.

    The guys in this video are clearly laughing at the ridiculous things they are about to have to say (PS – a painting of clowns storming Normandy? That’s art!), not at the people they are talking to. The shop staff they are talking to will not go home later or suffer any negative consequences from these guys asking for stupid things. Such a prank could only work in the stores like the ones they went to because only those kinds of stores would possibly stock any of the stuff on their list. There was no malice in any of the things they said, nor were they rude.

    The Hispanic dude in video one was clearly amused and to his credit he maintained a professional attitude, rather than telling the guy to piss off as I probably would have when I worked in retail. Unless a person comes from money it is likely that they have worked a retail job or several in their life – I’d assume that the guys who made the vid have probably worked in retail themselves, but that’s besides the point. It’s a joke. No one was hurt. Calm down and find something meaningful to be outraged about.

    (I’m outraged about the awful eye-melting animated gif ad on the sidebar telling me that I’m today’s 4S winner.)

  34. This is an epic FAIL! These child-men were way more amused than everyone else. No one I showed this to thought it was funny. I’ll let you can guess what most thought of it. Although Douchebags may be a little strong.

  35. If this were the kind of prank that were about humiliating the person being pranked (like those smarmy McDonald’s drive-thru pranks), I might agree with all this criticism. But I didn’t detect any malice or implied condescension towards low-level employees. Thought it was just good-natured silliness.

  36. Completely hilarious. And agreed, the best part is their laughter while reading the items.

    And I’m glad to see the editors of BoingBoing are brave enough to post pranks like this even though they surely must have known they’d be called baby killers or worse for doing so. Thanks for giving me a good solid 5 minutes of laughter. And yes I know, I’m a horrible person for it.

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