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I’ve been restraining an emotionally disturbed teenager for an hour. It’s midnight and I’m sore. All I can hear are feral screams.

According to the usual platitudes, college should be the gateway to more money and opportunities. I’ve found the opposite. My friends who didn’t graduate from college seem to make more money than I do.

“Graduating class, I hope you make this institution proud,” says some guy wearing a gown. Rows of graduates look like penguins in funny hats. We’re packed inside the Jenny Craig Pavilion at the University of San Diego. I know it as the Slim Gym. Usually it’s full of coeds who work off their insecurities with eating disorders and exercise.

I realize that degrees don’t make people any smarter, confident, or more apt. The sizable numbers of cokeheads and bulimics at USD attest to this. Life at the top of Linda Vista is Beverly Hills 92110. For many students it revolves around getting drunk at the beach, going to the mall, and making cameos on campus.

“Oh, my God, Kim, those are such cute Uggs, you got them at Fashion Valley, didn’t you?” is a typical conversation.

After four years, I wanted out. Grad school and law school were options, but I didn’t want to be an egghead stuck in the ivory tower. A career seemed like a possibility, but most require an advanced degree. Coming from a blue-collar lineage, the life of the proletariat beckoned. My dad worked hard forever. He picked fruit and delivered newspapers in his adolescence, joined the National Guard, tossed lumber at a saw mill, all before working his way through college. I’ve had jobs but never needed them. Graduating from college is something, but real work is different. It’s survival. Bukowski’s books about life in the gutter were calling me. Little did I know I would become a factotum right out of one of his novels. Hell, we could have shared drinks in between the search for odd jobs.

Going from the structure of the classroom to the frenzy of the job hunt is profound, and the rewards are different. Getting accepted into school is remunerated with classes you can skip, drunken nights, and piles of student debt. Getting a job, the only reward is paying your bills.

I scour the ads for restaurant work. Friends say restaurants are where it’s at. Thirty to 40 hours of intense work, tips, and flexible schedules. I need to move out of the dorms by August, and time is running out.

Busser at the Coronado Yacht Club. Perfect.

“So, what’s your experience in the hospitality industry?” my interviewer asks.

“I was a plate waiter at Newmarket Race Track in England,” I reply.

“Sounds like you have some experience in the hospitality industry.”


But I was a terrible waiter. I burned a lady with a pot of tea. If it weren’t for the preset menu, vegetarians would have been eating beef tartare, while I made sure to get my fair share. If there was champagne at the open bar, it got drained. I sampled whatever was on the menu. My justification was truly European: the British don’t tip.

I am hired at the yacht club anyway. Boats moored in the marina sway through the panoramic windows. Frantically, I pour water into cups around a crowded table. I grab a glass, fill it, then set it back down. I look at my partner, who does the same thing. We nod at each other.

“Hey, watch this,” says the restaurant manager.

He takes my pitcher and pours a glass for an elderly woman. I look at him.

“I know how to pour water!” I say.

“Oooh!” exclaims the customer.

Her mouth is agape. She’s staring at me. This is the slip that kills my waiting career. After only two days, I am back to the job hunt.

Activists Needed, says the ad. That’s me.

The position is for a door-to-door canvasser with Grassroots Incorporated. I will be collecting campaign contributions for the Democrats. “Hi, my name is Adam and I’m collecting money for the DNC, which will be sent to those vital swing states.” This is followed by all sorts of avoidance and slamming doors. I can’t blame them, I’m a Class A huckster. I’m worse than that. I’m not even selling a bad product, I’m offering nothing.

Many of my coworkers swear differently. They believe we are electing peace and justice. Maybe even pie in the sky. My sole consolation is I’m good at the job.

“Wow, Adam, you raised a thousand dollars, how’d you do it?” asks a coworker.

“I was in Cardiff, and people were just writing me $200 checks.” I smile. “Yeah, I met with this one guy for 45 minutes and we were talking about Buddhism, Nepal, and the Four Noble Truths, and as I leave he writes me two $200 checks — dude, funny thing is my degree is finally working for me.”

Like any sales job, there are days where I rake in less than $30. That hurts when you earn minimum wage and depend on your commission, which is 60 percent over quota. Even with the commission, spending six hours outside in the San Diego summer sun, traversing and getting lost in every liberal enclave in the county, is grueling. And I hate harassing the neighbors for political donations. When I’m sent back to Cardiff, I realize I can’t do this. These people just gave us a barrel of money. It seems wrong that we’re asking for more.

“Hi, my name is Adam and I’m with the DNC and we’re collecting money for those vital.…”

I’m interrupted by a lanky, bearded man with close-cropped hair. He stands in the opening of a sliding-glass door.

“Hey, I’m not a Democrat and I don’t vote,” he says.

“Why not?” I ask. I need to break quota today. This neighborhood has an ocean view. It can spare a few bucks for a college graduate.

“It’s all a façade…and I’m an anarchist,” says the man. He looks to be in his late 20s.

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SDaniels Jan. 20, 2010 @ 8:44 p.m.

Door-to-door PACs and developmentally disabled "clients," the jobs I did WHILE slugging it through school. ;) Thanks for the memories, Adam. But shouldn't you have gotten at least a few modest teaching jobs with an M.A.?


debrr Jan. 21, 2010 @ 11:09 a.m.

Yes, the canaries (your kids, my kids, our kids) are sounding the alarm. Of course many have severe emotional disorders! No one in their right mind can placidly swallow the swill this insane society feeds us daily. We have been robbed of our birthrights: clean/healthy air, water & food... and rewarding productivity that is respectful of our natural environment. Families have fallen by the wayside due to lack of time chasing $$$. We have enslaved ourselves with our complacent cooperation with our Masters. etc etc

Thanks for teaching us all with your excellent writing, Adam. This piece should jolt some more people awake. There's so much more to life than getting a pretty little degree in order to rub elbows with the "but shouldn't you...?" peeps.


anonymous123 Jan. 21, 2010 @ 4:05 p.m.

WOW, Adam (or as we called you in the facility- "Creepyguy")! Don't let the facts get in the way of a good story!!!

1) You never worked with the adolescents. You worked with the little kids. I guess I can see why you lied, it's kinda tough to write such an outrageous story when you worked with 6-year-olds...

2) You were an overnight staff. You had LITTLE to NO contact with the children. You worked from 11 pm to 7 am, wherein you mostly cleaned (albeit while wearing disposable gloves and a surgical mask that you brought in to protect yourself from what you perceived as nasty germs from the children you paint yourself as caring about so much).

3 ) These kids are WONDERFUL children. Although they do talk back and can be assaultive when upset, the picture YOU are painting is nothing but pure hyperbole written solely for effect. You would know that, had you ever spent time with any of the children. You probably could have picked up some extra shifts when the kids were awake and gotten some experience/exposure to them, had you cared enough to do that. You didn't. Instead, you spent you're time running around complaining. Complaining about management, complaining about breaks (I have never heard of any job giving an hour break for an 8 hour shift, even on an overnight), just complaining. You were never remotely interested in the kids.

4) You no longer are employed for this company. You were fired for getting aggressive with a 6-year-old boy who had wet the bed in the middle of the night. Then you complained, attempted to sue, and brought your friends and family down to stand in the parking lot with signs, in order to protest and stick up for you. The facility chose to stick up for the little boy. That's where their concern lay, and yours did not. By the way, I am not management, I am merely a regular staff. I know you're a big fan of conspiracy theories and playing the martyr, but it won't work in this instance.

Grow up, Adam. You were wrong in this instance; it sounds like you definitely have been irresponsible and immature in your previous jobs, and, most of all- you're a liar who could give a damn about the kids. I think you can still write a good story without all the lies and exaggerations. Most of all, re: the expression you used to make yourself in to someone you're not and you never were- "my kids..."...were you referring to the lies you birthed or the kids at the facility- because you were no part of them. How dare you!


PistolPete Jan. 21, 2010 @ 4:31 p.m.

Without having read the story yet(waiting for the rain to stop), you voice your opinion about the author yet sign your comment anonymous123. Someone's a coward. I'm not talking about the author, debrr or SDaniels. Methinks people in glass houses shouldn't piss off the wrecking ball operator...


lenny Jan. 21, 2010 @ 5 p.m.

And our government just finished a program to inject mercury into all the toddlers in the country.


PistolPete Jan. 21, 2010 @ 5:03 p.m.

Only the children of stupid parents, lenny. I'd say about 90%...lol!


CuddleFish Jan. 21, 2010 @ 5:21 p.m.

Oh Lord, not another fiction piece!!!! Is this the Reader or Tin House???


anonymous123 Jan. 21, 2010 @ 9:49 p.m.

pistol pete- I've seen you on here before, read your stuff, and realize that you play devil's advocate for the sake of playing devil's advocate, regardless of whether you actually know what you're talking about or not. Who I am doesn't alter the facts of this issue in any way. I signed "anonymous123" for the same reasons Adam changed the names of the staff in the facility. I currently work there, I don't discuss staff or children, ESPECIALLY names, outside the workplace, unless they write heinously false, self-glorifying stories and publish their own names themselves...


SDaniels Jan. 21, 2010 @ 10:36 p.m.

re: #2: "There's so much more to life than getting a pretty little degree in order to rub elbows with the "but shouldn't you...?" peeps."

Your point is a bit unclear, debrr. Is it that higher degrees aren't useful? I don't consider my degrees to be "pretty little degrees." I consider them to be a part of my education for life--an education that I worked damn hard to get. There is more to life than working and making the most money possible--there is also the life of the mind, the intellect, and the aesthetic awareness one gains, not to mention all that you learn about the world that makes sense once you step out into it. I don't know, it sounds like you are a bit angry about this, and perhaps a bit resentful about something? That your degree is not helping your career, or that you didn't get a degree? You'll have to be clearer.


adambcase Jan. 21, 2010 @ 10:38 p.m.

Wow Anonymous123

You are just so dead on.

If you would have read the article you would have noticed the passage where I said passing Santana High School on my way to work. When was Andy Williams and the Santana High shooting near fifth and university? Apparently someone can't find their way around San Diego.

But just the fact you can't read the article well enough to even do a good accurate character assassination shows how incompetent you really are. But hey, it's funny, so keep making me laugh.

To tell you the truth I take your feeble attempts as a compliment. Because I haven't worked for your utterly clean and well run organization for nearly a year. Also according to your profile you just signed up today to post these comments.

Wow, you signed up to come after little ol' me. And I ain't even in California right now.

Believe or not this article had nothing to do with New Alternatives and I have worked with other kids at other facilities, before the year 2007. Kind of the reason I was hired by the Program Manager in the first place. But the fact that you would want to come after me, after I was given the boot shows I must of been doing my job as labor organizer at your facility. Someone struck a nerve.

Anonymous 123 you want to throw in I molested a kid go for it and then stole their milk money go for say that as well. Hey while your at it why don't tell everybody Satan's got a locker full of animal porn waiting for me at the gates of Hell when I die. But you know what, I'm sure we'll enjoy it together.

Also sorry to get some you guys on Univision News on March 13. You know me I just can't help myself . When I see pure comedy I just think it's got to make Primetime--even if it is Spanish. Se hable?

Finally thanks for the unemployment checks, it equals out maybe only a little less than what I was getting when I was working for your organization. Now I can really focus on my writing and hell I might write my next article about you.

Now if I can just figure out which joker you are. But i guess it wouldn't be worth my time.

But Toodles Anonymous 123 it's been fun.


PS Just remember your mandated by Federal Law to send me my W2s. So if you can send the word out, I will be a calling for them in the next couple days.


antigeekess Jan. 21, 2010 @ 11:09 p.m.

Re #3 & 10: I'd be more interested in a refutation of this very particular point:

"4) You no longer are employed for this company. You were fired for getting aggressive with a 6-year-old boy who had wet the bed in the middle of the night. Then you complained, attempted to sue, and brought your friends and family down to stand in the parking lot with signs, in order to protest and stick up for you. The facility chose to stick up for the little boy."

Clearly, this describes a specific event at a specific facility.

"...it sounds like you definitely have been irresponsible and immature in your previous jobs"

Agreed. What a nightmare of a mail carrier. Just a danger to himself and everyone else. A chronic f***up who never takes responsibility for anything he does. Everything happens "to" him.

Bukowski you ain't.


samadams Jan. 21, 2010 @ 11:10 p.m.

I thought the story was very intriguing...making you aware of how it really is out there...fact or fiction, nevermind. Ive been out there and could easily be back out there wondering how certifications, qualifications and education are gonna get me past the "just enough to live" wages that are offered. Being out there and living day to day is comical at times...wondering in between uplifting moments, "what am I doing?" I also liked how circumstances can put a person in diverse situations and make you find yourself...its a clache these days to find someone doing something for a living, that they have no qualifications or degree for. Circumstances change every 90 days!


PistolPete Jan. 21, 2010 @ 11:20 p.m.

LMAO Adam. I still haven't read the article because I pick up the print version and haven't gotten this week's because of the rain.

anonymous123-You're exactly right. I do play Devil's Advocate. I believe in forming an opinion once I have all the information at my disposal. Since I haven't read it, no opinion. :-D I DO love your very lame excuse for not using your real name when libeling someone. Let's break down that lame excuse so I can make you look like the cowardly dildo you obviously are...

"I signed "anonymous123" for the same reasons Adam changed the names of the staff in the facility." He changed the names to keep from getting sued. You can't get sued for using your real name on a public forum.

"I currently work there, I don't discuss staff or children, ESPECIALLY names, outside the workplace, unless they write heinously false, self-glorifying stories and publish their own names themselves..." In your comments you didn't name anyone in this particular facility so you shouldn't be worried about getting sued by anyone there. However, you can be sued by Adam for slander and libel should he decide to persue this any farther. You might be able to post things anonymously but your ISP is registered to someone. Trust me. I'm a hacker. If I really wanted, I could find out out the ISP and whether it was your home PC, a laptop registered to you, a computer in a public library(most libraries have cameras pointing at their public computer banks), a friend's computer( If I investigated thoroughly enough, I could gain employee records and match anyone's ISP to a particular computer) or a work computer.

I'm sure Adam wouldn't mind a "retraction" of slanderous and libelous comments from you. :-D


SDaniels Jan. 21, 2010 @ 11:58 p.m.

re: #12: "...its a clache these days to find someone doing something for a living, that they have no qualifications or degree for."

I have tried every way I can to pronounce it, but can't figure out what word "clache" is supposed to be...

Should we get creative with it? ;)


SDaniels Jan. 21, 2010 @ 11:59 p.m.

re: #13: Adam, what Pete meant to say is "I believe in forming an opinion once"



CuddleFish Jan. 22, 2010 @ 12:13 a.m.

He didn't want to be cliched about spelling cliche so he spelled it clache, so much more cachet that way, hey hey, I'm getting out of the way, before cloches are thrown my way.


PistolPete Jan. 22, 2010 @ 12:19 a.m.

Very rarely do I change my opinion, SD. Once again, welcome to the Real World. :-D


adambcase Jan. 22, 2010 @ 12:56 a.m.


Now you want a little bit of my dead carcass.

I never thought the day would come when I would have a pack of buzzards preying on me. I must be making some progress in this life. Praise be Allah because people actually care.

And first of all YES I agree with you: I AIN'T BUKOWSKI!

There is no logical way I could be Charles Bukowki, Bukowski was a drunk and Bukowski's DEAD, my dear anti-Greekess.

Second am I "F--- Up", as you put it so eloquently...YES I AM. But I have my moments as well.

You know that old saying sometime we're the statue and sometimes we're the pigeon. It' comes and goes Like this article for example. Somebody I haven't dealt with nearly a year is checking up on me. It means they care.

Now Anti-Geekess get something published in this magazine and I would be more than willing to show so much care for you. Would you like me to proof read your blog maybe?

Next about the incident that keeps popping up from you and Anonymous 123 keep wanting answers for it. First of all it has nothing to do with the story I wrote and I don't really see how
me answering your questions on incident which neither you nor anybody on this board was there are involved in the incident lends me anymore credibility. To get them involved in....well it just seems tacky. But if you were involved or there call me sometime we'll do lunch. Nothing like old chums right? I'll remember not to bring the news crew next time.

Finally, if you really want to hurt me stop posting messages about how much of a bad/evil/sinister guy I am, it only creates more comments and more traffic to my story. Which, dah,dah,dah, makes it more likely I can get something published by the Reader again. Controversy Baby. Like I said in my article I like being a Bad-ass.

Or should I say keep hurting by posting those apt messages and creating even more traffic to my story. Actually if you want I'll even help you. Do you want the time I ate my own boogers or the time I had explosive diarrhea?

And if you really want to hurt me tell me to go back to school and get a PHD and never leave the ivory tower again. That would hurt.

Good Night everybody I'm going to bed I'll check back in with you in the morning. Hopefully another pithy, cogent, by the fine folks at my former workplace will be waiting on my door step.

Your author and your friend,

Adam aka (F--- Up)

I do enjoy our correspondences. Tell your friends to write as well.


SDaniels Jan. 22, 2010 @ 1:03 a.m.

re:#16: Ouch! The clash of your cloches clobbered my cachet, not to mention my cache of cash!

re:#17: Pete, are you like the Walmart greeter, but for the "Real World?" Wasn't that like the first reality tv show? Were you on it or something?

re: #18:

OOOhhh, "antiGreekess!" Now, that's hot.


SDaniels Jan. 22, 2010 @ 1:12 a.m.

re: #18:

Well, Adam, I think it is only natural that people are going to ask you about the boy who wet the bed.

Them's some serious allegations, indeed. You state several times that you get off/thrive on being criticized/lambasted online, which leads me to wonder if you are a troll.

(Pete, can you tell if your new bud is a troll?)

If you are serious about the offer to antigeekess, you'll have to start by spelling her name properly. After all, how do you expect to get that job editing her blog if you don't put your mad spelling skillz forward?

Finally, to be a real badass, you will need to be a tad more entertaining. So far, it's been a lot of clache/cloche/cache--excuse me! (gotta cold) --CLICHES--whew! I mean, your story was ok, but not earth-shakingly anything.

Face it--you need a tutor, and I know JUST the place for you:

Welcome to Pete's Real World School of Online Badass Trolldom!


PistolPete Jan. 22, 2010 @ 1:40 a.m.

Your response, SD, should be a real doozy. :-D


PistolPete Jan. 22, 2010 @ 2:25 a.m.

Ok. I read it. Not the best cover story I've read but I've also seen MUCH worse so it's a start. Adam sounds alot like me but with a spiffy new degree. I've learned that books are fun to read but they really don't teach you much. I get my education on-line and just living life.

As for the 6-year old bed wetter, who gives a f about him? Adam never mentioned him in his story. You guys want to talk about trolls? Anonymous123 would be the troll. I don't really know the beef between Adam and anonymous and I don't really give a royal f.

Adam-I liked your writing style and your sense of humor. You'll be fine.

Anonymous123-Go drink a bottle of bleach and do humanity a favor. Add some Draino while you're at it. :-/

SD/AG-What is there left to say that I haven't already said?


SDaniels Jan. 22, 2010 @ 2:54 a.m.

Pete gushed:

"Adam-I liked your writing style and your sense of humor. You'll be fine."

Awww. It's so cute, because you sound just like refried to you--I guess you are taking Adam under your buffalo wing.

What should be a doozy? I've been posting like mad--what did I forget to respond to?!


antigeekess Jan. 22, 2010 @ 9:15 a.m.

"Trust me. I'm a hacker."

The most oxymoronic t-shirt of all time, perhaps? I think of you more this way, Petey.


At least he knows the difference between "your" and "you're." :)

As for the author of this little whine festival, I don't really see anything worth responding to. Sounds like a flailing, narcissistic twerp.

One more of Pete's glamour shots, for the road: http://images.fanpop.com/images/image_uploads/Stewie-family-guy-79270_545_598.jpg


PistolPete Jan. 22, 2010 @ 10:11 a.m.

Thanks AG. I am a bit like Stewie. :-D

I meant Adam's response to you, SD. I thought that was pretty obvious but I digress. ;-D


Joe Poutous Jan. 22, 2010 @ 10:55 a.m.

re #25

Short, angry, football headed and queer?


PistolPete Jan. 22, 2010 @ 11:09 a.m.

I meant in attitude Tiki but thanks for playin' along. :-D


Duhbya Jan. 22, 2010 @ 11:58 a.m.

"I meant in attitude Tiki"..... So did he (or she).

Nice posts in the U-T today, btw....;>)


PistolPete Jan. 22, 2010 @ 12:04 p.m.

For those that are interested: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Troll_(Internet)

I do believe that the word troll to AG and SD is akin to Godwin's Law.



PistolPete Jan. 22, 2010 @ 12:06 p.m.

How can short or football headed be an attitude? O_o

U-T? Do share, Duhbya. I don't feel like going to SSD.


Burwell Jan. 22, 2010 @ 1:19 p.m.

Second am I "F--- Up", as you put it so eloquently...YES I AM. But I have my moments as well.


Join the Marines. They'll straighten you out in short order.


MsGrant Jan. 22, 2010 @ 1:37 p.m.

I got the distinct impression that the author is a bit of a misogynist.

"Usually it’s full of coeds who work off their insecurities with eating disorders and exercise."

"The sizable numbers of cokeheads and bulimics at USD attest to this."

"“Oh, my God, Kim, those are such cute Uggs, you got them at Fashion Valley, didn’t you?” is a typical conversation."

Prickly types tend to have difficulties holding a job.


Duhbya Jan. 22, 2010 @ 1:53 p.m.

Pete, I am certain you'll figure it out. You're smarter than most of us, remember?

And if this isn't you posting today - from the cigarette litter hotline redux http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/2010/jan/22/cigarette-litter-hotline-gets-makeover/ :

"chargerhatersince1994 The Point Loma Ocean Outfall was built in 1963 for the discharge of treated wastewater into the ocean. In 1993, the Outfall was extended from a length of two miles off the coast of Point Loma to its present length of 4.5 miles. Twelve feet in diameter and operating via gravity-feed, the Outfall ends 320 feet below the surface in a Y-shaped diffuser to ensure wide dispersal of effluent into ocean waters.


......then I heartily apologize. Might there be an obnoxious and ubiquitous impostor?


PistolPete Jan. 22, 2010 @ 2:35 p.m.

MsGrant-That sums up the attitude of Sandy Eggo. Nothing mysogynistic about it.

Duhbya-Wasn't me posting. I post under the name Packerz when I'm not banned.


MsGrant Jan. 22, 2010 @ 4:38 p.m.

Well, then how about mentioning the douchebags with their hats on sideways and their insecurities? Last I checked, young guys were just as guilty in the drug department as the ladies, and maybe they don't shop as much, but talking about gadgets is as boring as Uggs. They also go to the gym. He bagged exclusively on the women.


Duhbya Jan. 23, 2010 @ 10:04 a.m.

As I mentioned, Pete, I apologize for the mis-characterization. But I conclude that you have either been cloned or have acquired a posting double, perhaps in the imitation/flattery realm. As regards: "chargerhatersince1994? Eco nutbag groups? WORRY ABOUT WHAT YOUR SWIMMING IN THAT CAME FROM MY BUTT, NOT MY CIG BUTT!!!"??? Had me fooled. All that was missing was LULZ!


PistolPete Jan. 23, 2010 @ 10:16 a.m.

LOL! It's ok Duhbya. Honest mistake. I've been "cloned" MANY times over the years.


a2zresource Feb. 11, 2010 @ 1:23 p.m.


I was actually living on campus at the University of Spoiled Daughters when Aromas opened up. My favorite thing to do around 11:30pm was to run up there from the Valley frosh housing to grab a double expresso before tackling my computer science homework (Thanx, Dr. Langton). If it had opened a year earlier, I would have graded calculus homework there instead of grading in my dorm room on instant coffee.

My memories of USD are somewhat brighter than those in the above article, fiction or not. I tended to see the women on campus, especially those living in the dorms as my neighbors, as my younger sisters. This wasn't that hard to do as a mid-30s transfer student, but it helped having the ability to tutor business "baby" calc while administering a fairly decent back massage.

I miss that slender Aromas barista that I tutored baby calc to during the last spring semester I lived on campus...

More than a few USD students did go to high school in Beverly Hills. USD is still a nice place to drop off one's daughter to break up a questionable relationship with someone else living in LA.

Sure, there were some young women who had a difficult time adjusting to the relative freedom of college life after high school, but the REAL A-holes on campus were the freshmen boys who took to expressing themselves by trashing select portions of campus, relying on the theory that "The help will take care of it." Those self-righteous children actually thought like that!

And we wonder where the Wall Street Masters of the Universe came from before causing the Crash of 2008...


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