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Old 03-22-2017, 08:26 AM
  #46
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PLNewman, just wondering the approximate age of that student?
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Old 03-22-2017, 08:48 AM
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Originally Posted by 333pg333 View Post
Thought I was watching a chase scene from Lancelot Link.
LOL! Yeah... in my head the soundtrack to that video is Yakkity Sax.

Thing is... while it may not be any example of how to properly drive that track... I'm pretty sure nobody out there had more fun than we did and that day was the one that led me down the path of doing more and more DE events.

The fact that our instructors kept us safe but still let us have fun out there without making it all just a clinical driving lesson set the stage for my DE "career" going forward.

Since then, I've had a string of great instructors and some of the other stand-out moments also involve them orchestrating some fun beyond just driving the right line and getting the technical details right.

DE teaches us to be better drivers, but if there wasn't more to it than that, would we really be spending the thousands of dollars it costs to participate?
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Old 03-22-2017, 10:23 AM
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Originally Posted by Dr911 View Post
A 16 year old girl who'd been driving 6 months, came to track with a track prepped MiniCooperS. She was able to pick it up SO quickly, trusted me completely, and LISTENED so well, with perfect execution that she was able to catch and recover a spin by the end of day 2.
Holy resurrected threads! Sounds like you have been having a good time instructing.

WRT the quote above, another exceptional student I had was a 16 year old girl in a bone stock Mini Cooper who got her driver's license the day before. It was at a BMW Street Survival event. She listened well and, more importantly, just seemed to know how to drive the car.

One of the exercises was a long curved slalom course that terminated with a sharp left corner directly into a "wall" of cones. The turn was about as sharp as a turn into a gas station and the purpose was to do the turn on the brakes with ABS to feel out it works. Remember, this isn't a track exercise and is intended to be below traction limits.

Most students lost their nerve and sort of put the car in the spot sheepishly and poorly. She flew into the turn at a good clip and freaking parked it 6" from the cones absolutely perfect. Picture somebody going at a good clip in a parking lot and just stabbing the car into a parking space between two cars, perfectly straight and nice and tidy. In the midst of the standing ovation from the cone catchers I turned to her and said, "Holy ****! I don't think I could have done that!"

Gained a lot of respect for the Cooper too that day - that little car was a hoot to ride in. One of the other instructors was suggesting to her father that perhaps he hire a coach for her to nurture the talent.

-Mike
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Old 03-22-2017, 10:40 AM
  #49
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Originally Posted by PLNewman View Post
Ever have a student like the one I had recently? Guy shows up in a 2016 Camaro with high-performance Michelins (he says he "wore through the last set" at a recent DE). Goes into great details about the "upgrades" to his "braking package" (new rotors and Pagid pads). He says he "wore through a set" at his last DE. Come to find out, it's his third DE. Race seats. Stock seat belts. Gold ball on the shift ****.

Progression goes something like this:
Saturday Warm Up: Here is the line, there are the flag stations, what to do if you drop a wheel, etc... He tells me he knows all that and he would prefer if I only talk when he does something wrong. He says he has soloed "with other groups" and just needs a refresher. We miss every apex at 1/3 speed. I can tell this is going to be a long weekend.

Sat Run1: Drive the line, be smooth. Needed to get his hands at 9 and 3. Needed to get the left arm down off the door. Needed to get the left foot off the clutch. Needed to get the right hand off the shifter. He tells me that's his "style." A line of cars is building up behind us. I tell him to look in his mirrors. He says "he'll get to it" but he's busy driving right now. He slams on brakes at the first braking marker. Cars scatter. He laughs. We miss every apex. He approaches a Miata and curses. No point-by is forthcoming. He passes anyway. We are black flagged. I tell him we need to go to the pits. He ignores me. The lap continues. We miss every apex. As we approach pit-in, I gently reach over and turn the steering wheel. "Don't ever do that again," he yells.

We have a debriefing at the Black Flag station. He tells me that the other drivers are too slow. I asked if he saw the line of cars behind him. He shrugs. I talk about the dynamics of a turn...the smooth braking, the gentle release, the progressive turn-in, the apex, the track out. He rolls his eyes. "Next time out," I tell him, "we'll work on getting smoother, watching our mirrors."

"That's not what my last instructor had me doing," he said. "He had me braking as late as possible. That's how to go fast!" I explained that that's why he's burning up his brakes. We need to concentrate on smoothness, I told him.

Sat Run2: We missed every apex. Missed two braking zones entirely and ran long into the runoff. Nearly broadsided another car in the braking zone. Smell the pads? "Yeah, they do that." Let's slow it down, work on smoothness. Get that left foot off the clutch. Get the arm down off the window. "It helps me be ready to give a point," he explains. No points are given. No points are even considered, as far as I can tell. We are black flagged again. The session expires. "You're not accepting instruction," I tell him. "I'm combining some of what you're telling me with some of my last instructor," he explains.

I skip lunch. Too upset.

Sat Run3: Have him drive and narrate what he is looking at and what he is trying to do. "This is stupid," he says. "My brakes feel soft," he adds. I can smell the fluid boiling. The pedal goes to the floor. We are through the braking zone and headed to the wall. I grab the wheel and pull hard, sending it into a slide. We don't hit anything. "Back to the pits," I motion.

The Black Flag station says, "You're very popular on the radio." The chief instructor has a semi-smile and a barely concealed air of concern.

"I had it until you pulled on the wheel," said the student. Silence.

I speak with the chief instructor in private, tell him I don't feel comfortable getting back in the car. He says he'll send out a "Senior Instructor" with the student in the next session (I AM a senior instructor) for a "check ride" to see if the guy will be allowed to continue.

I brief the "Senior Instructor" and off they go. Fifteen minutes later, I see the Camaro on a wrecker's hook getting dragged through the pits. The left side is caved in. "He didn't pass the check ride," the Senior Instructor informs me, shaking his head.
I don't do this often, but your parody of my post had me nearly falling out of my chair laughing my *** off. Well done! I've got tears in my eyes.

Just to be clear, I'm not making light of the actual message in your post. I get it. I've had the "student from hell" also, but even he wasn't as bad as your "flat out" Camaro guy. Perhaps with the improvements to the Camaro, the douchieness from the Corvette has been redistributed?

Afterwards, with my student from hell, I felt like I had too much patience with him. In retrospect, I should have yanked him off the track for a discussion with the CDI. We do this for fun and want our clients to have fun too, but this is serious business and the difference between a struggling student listening and someone who is simply not listening is clear. Not listening is the one thing I will not tolerate from a student. What tolerance I have for this diminishes every day.

-Mike

Last edited by TXE36; 03-22-2017 at 11:50 AM. Reason: my not by
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Old 03-22-2017, 11:30 AM
  #50
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oh man I didn't realize it was tongue-in-cheek. Well played PLNewman

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Old 03-22-2017, 11:55 AM
  #51
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It's not tongue in cheek in certain ways.. I've seen stuff like that for years.... been that second Instructor to get into that car MANY times... I use to take that as an additional on track challenge. Young = ?? .. Now different. ..
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Old 03-22-2017, 12:24 PM
  #52
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Yes, the post was written to mimic the OP but was, in fact, based on actual events just a few weeks ago at Sebring. The "student" was in his early 40s, very opinionated, stubborn, full of himself, and obviously intimidated by the entire experience. He wore a ponytail, which I found interesting, because he was anything but a free spirit.

A serious discussion erupted the next day at the instructor's meeting. Someone suggested that I should have just ridden along as a passenger, said nothing. But with danger lurking in every braking zone, that simply was not going to happen.

The discussion did raise some interesting questions about the actual function of our instruction. We, as instructors, derive great satisfaction from a student who listens and reacts and learns. We feel we are accomplishing something. But what are we actually accomplishing? What is the goal with a student who gains great pleasure from his track experience, yet will probably never advance beyond a certain DE run group? Is our goal to make a professional driver out of each student? Or is the goal to simply make sure the student has a great experience and doesn't hurt himself or others...and takes his/her car home in one piece? If a student drives well, but not great, do we accept the level of competence...and do we push on toward continued improvement? To what end?

And how does that goal-setting change with a student who does not listen and has no interest in instruction? What is our obligation as an instructor? To ensure safety and smiles and little else? If a student refuses to listen to our advice...are we reacting to that with our own bruised ego? Do we yank a driver off the track if he/she refuses to learn? Or do we wait until we feel danger lurks? And how do we know how much danger to accept?

There is a certain tribe of drivers who gain solo status and then are perfectly content to continue driving alone in the Green run group. They are comfortable there. Without additional instruction, they rarely improve. But that is where they want to be. They enjoy themselves, have a great time.

So, what is the goal of a DE? To educate? Or entertain? And what is the goal of the instructor when the student doesn't want to be instructed?
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Old 03-22-2017, 12:31 PM
  #53
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Originally Posted by PLNewman View Post
Ever have a student like the one I had recently? Guy shows up in a 2016 Camaro with high-performance Michelins (he says he "wore through the last set" at a recent DE). Goes into great details about the "upgrades" to his "braking package" (new rotors and Pagid pads). He says he "wore through a set" at his last DE. Come to find out, it's his third DE. Race seats. Stock seat belts. Gold ball on the shift ****.

Progression goes something like this:
Saturday Warm Up: Here is the line, there are the flag stations, what to do if you drop a wheel, etc... He tells me he knows all that and he would prefer if I only talk when he does something wrong. He says he has soloed "with other groups" and just needs a refresher. We miss every apex at 1/3 speed. I can tell this is going to be a long weekend.

Sat Run1: Drive the line, be smooth. Needed to get his hands at 9 and 3. Needed to get the left arm down off the door. Needed to get the left foot off the clutch. Needed to get the right hand off the shifter. He tells me that's his "style." A line of cars is building up behind us. I tell him to look in his mirrors. He says "he'll get to it" but he's busy driving right now. He slams on brakes at the first braking marker. Cars scatter. He laughs. We miss every apex. He approaches a Miata and curses. No point-by is forthcoming. He passes anyway. We are black flagged. I tell him we need to go to the pits. He ignores me. The lap continues. We miss every apex. As we approach pit-in, I gently reach over and turn the steering wheel. "Don't ever do that again," he yells.

We have a debriefing at the Black Flag station. He tells me that the other drivers are too slow. I asked if he saw the line of cars behind him. He shrugs. I talk about the dynamics of a turn...the smooth braking, the gentle release, the progressive turn-in, the apex, the track out. He rolls his eyes. "Next time out," I tell him, "we'll work on getting smoother, watching our mirrors."

"That's not what my last instructor had me doing," he said. "He had me braking as late as possible. That's how to go fast!" I explained that that's why he's burning up his brakes. We need to concentrate on smoothness, I told him.

Sat Run2: We missed every apex. Missed two braking zones entirely and ran long into the runoff. Nearly broadsided another car in the braking zone. Smell the pads? "Yeah, they do that." Let's slow it down, work on smoothness. Get that left foot off the clutch. Get the arm down off the window. "It helps me be ready to give a point," he explains. No points are given. No points are even considered, as far as I can tell. We are black flagged again. The session expires. "You're not accepting instruction," I tell him. "I'm combining some of what you're telling me with some of my last instructor," he explains.

I skip lunch. Too upset.

Sat Run3: Have him drive and narrate what he is looking at and what he is trying to do. "This is stupid," he says. "My brakes feel soft," he adds. I can smell the fluid boiling. The pedal goes to the floor. We are through the braking zone and headed to the wall. I grab the wheel and pull hard, sending it into a slide. We don't hit anything. "Back to the pits," I motion.

The Black Flag station says, "You're very popular on the radio." The chief instructor has a semi-smile and a barely concealed air of concern.

"I had it until you pulled on the wheel," said the student. Silence.

I speak with the chief instructor in private, tell him I don't feel comfortable getting back in the car. He says he'll send out a "Senior Instructor" with the student in the next session (I AM a senior instructor) for a "check ride" to see if the guy will be allowed to continue.

I brief the "Senior Instructor" and off they go. Fifteen minutes later, I see the Camaro on a wrecker's hook getting dragged through the pits. The left side is caved in. "He didn't pass the check ride," the Senior Instructor informs me, shaking his head.

Ugh! That sounds pretty bad.

I tend to be one of those instructors with likely "too much" patience. I love teaching and instructing so it becomes a "challenge" to get them to see the light. I've had two REALLY BAD students so far. One was similar to what you described... except in a Mustang, and running street pads ("Dealer said it's got racing brakes from the factory already"). Retired airline captain so he's used to being "in charge" and didn't like instruction. Mowed the lawn, almost caused a collision re-entering the track, etc. He eventually DID listen to me - after I made him put it in 4th gear and leave it there the entire rest of the day. I was casually watching laptimes with my watch and he was going 10+ seconds faster by the end of the day.... but he still went home in a big huff (because I wouldn't let him "go fast") and never came back.

Another guy showed up in a 997 Turbo S. Really, really struggled with the whole "track thing". He improved dramatically by the end of the day, but really was one of those guys that just had no business being out there. Difference was, he knew he was bad, and was trying his hardest to learn. I could tell, so I kept with him - and he thanked me profusely at the end of the day for it.

In both cases ALL of my other instructor buddies told me I should have sent both of them home before lunch. *shrug*

Originally Posted by TXE36 View Post
Holy resurrected threads! Sounds like you have been having a good time instructing.

WRT the quote above, another exceptional student I had was a 16 year old girl in a bone stock Mini Cooper who got her driver's license the day before. It was at a BMW Street Survival event. She listened well and, more importantly, just seemed to know how to drive the car.

One of the exercises was a long curved slalom course that terminated with a sharp left corner directly into a "wall" of cones. The turn was about as sharp as a turn into a gas station and the purpose was to do the turn on the brakes with ABS to feel out it works. Remember, this isn't a track exercise and is intended to be below traction limits.

Most students lost their nerve and sort of put the car in the spot sheepishly and poorly. She flew into the turn at a good clip and freaking parked it 6" from the cones absolutely perfect. Picture somebody going at a good clip in a parking lot and just stabbing the car into a parking space between two cars, perfectly straight and nice and tidy. In the midst of the standing ovation from the cone catchers I turned to her and said, "Holy ****! I don't think I could have done that!"

Gained a lot of respect for the Cooper too that day - that little car was a hoot to ride in. One of the other instructors was suggesting to her father that perhaps he hire a coach for her to nurture the talent.

-Mike
Too funny. We had a girl show up to our region's autocross school. Same deal, new driver, 16 years old, bubbly but nervous, driving little Mini her dad bought for her. Turned out she's the daughter of one of our other members (I just didn't know it at the time). I thought she just somehow "found out" about our school and showed up.

She pretty well KILLED all the exercises. Took instruction incredibly well, and she had a blast at the same time. Never ever had a student that took instruction EXACTLY as given and APPLIED it with immediate success like that before (or since!).

I thought it was just because "girls are better listeners who don't have an ego" but maybe it was the Mini all along? LOL...
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Old 03-22-2017, 12:32 PM
  #54
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Pretty sure there is a continuum for each of the topics you raise. Some are just one off bucket list fulfillers. Some are on their way (even if they don't know it) to club racing. And everything in between.

As a newly minted instructor (God help us all) I was told priority one was safety, priority two was safety and priority there was molding the experience to meet the goals of the student with those first two goals in mind. So I think there are as many different answers as there are people.
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Old 03-22-2017, 12:35 PM
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Originally Posted by PLNewman View Post
A serious discussion erupted the next day at the instructor's meeting. Someone suggested that I should have just ridden along as a passenger, said nothing. But with danger lurking in every braking zone, that simply was not going to happen.
That person should probably be removed from the process of coaching or having input on coaching.

So, what is the goal of a DE? To educate? Or entertain?
The goal should be to educate and entertain but without jeopardizing the safety and entertainment of others.

And what is the goal of the instructor when the student doesn't want to be instructed?
Make an honest attempt to get through but if proven ineffective, to show them an early exit before they hurt themselves or others. This is where track organizers should be open to the idea of a partial refund to fix the problem, if needed. It'll diffuse the situation and get everyone on with the rest of their day. You'd also be surprised what it does for the rest of the participants if an all hands meeting is called and explained that someone has been sent home.
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Old 03-22-2017, 12:35 PM
  #56
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If a student isn't listening and is driving dangerously or with no consideration for the other people on the track, I think they should be removed. Maybe they need a talking to by the head instructor or something. That behaviour can't be allowed to just continue though.

I'd like to think there aren't any drivers like that sharing the track with me. I'd be pretty disappointed to find out that there were and that nobody did anything about it.

As for the rest... don't you just ask them what they're looking for from the experience? If they want to improve, try to help them improve. If they don't care and are just having fun and aren't a hindrance to anyone else, then just enjoy the ride, right?

At that point, it's really up to them. If they're trying to improve but just aren't... well... keep trying. That's where that endless patience will come in.
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Old 03-22-2017, 12:50 PM
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Originally Posted by DTMiller View Post
Pretty sure there is a continuum for each of the topics you raise. Some are just one off bucket list fulfillers. Some are on their way (even if they don't know it) to club racing. And everything in between.

As a newly minted instructor (God help us all) I was told priority one was safety, priority two was safety and priority there was molding the experience to meet the goals of the student with those first two goals in mind. So I think there are as many different answers as there are people.
YES.

I run the classroom for our region's novice groups.

I hammer on "safety" over and over. In fact, at first, I think a lot of students feel disappointed that I'm not going to talk about how to cut the fastest lap time.

In fact, on my "Expected Takeaways" slide I have 4 bullets:
- STAY SAFE
- LISTEN to your instructor
- RELAX!
- KEEP your EYES UP

I've actually got a couple slides strewn throughout the talk, tying back to safety. The key point I try to drive home with them is this: It only takes a small mistake at the right time, to take what might've been the BEST day of your life, and turn it into the WORST. I don't care how much fun you had, bringing your car home on a flatbed (or yourself on a stretcher) will completely undo any fun you might've had. **** can happen out there.

I also try to remind them that they not only hold their own lives in their hands while out there, but they hold their instructor's lives in their hands too.

Not that I want to scare the crap out of them... but they need to be aware that what they're doing IS dangerous.

I've found that, given a foundation on safety and situational awareness, technique and speed will come more easily and naturally later. It becomes much harder to teach awareness if they've only ever focused on technique.
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Old 03-22-2017, 12:53 PM
  #58
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Originally Posted by Wild Weasel View Post
If a student isn't listening and is driving dangerously or with no consideration for the other people on the track, I think they should be removed. Maybe they need a talking to by the head instructor or something. That behaviour can't be allowed to just continue though.

I'd like to think there aren't any drivers like that sharing the track with me. I'd be pretty disappointed to find out that there were and that nobody did anything about it.

As for the rest... don't you just ask them what they're looking for from the experience? If they want to improve, try to help them improve. If they don't care and are just having fun and aren't a hindrance to anyone else, then just enjoy the ride, right?

At that point, it's really up to them. If they're trying to improve but just aren't... well... keep trying. That's where that endless patience will come in.
Some new students seriously seem to think that they'll "get noticed" while out there for their superior skills despite being new, and will get offered a pro drive somewhere.

Even after telling them "that's not how it works". They smile and nod, verbally agree with you, but in the back of their brain, are still thinking it'll happen.
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Old 03-22-2017, 01:07 PM
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Originally Posted by PLNewman View Post
Yes, the post was written to mimic the OP but was, in fact, based on actual events just a few weeks ago at Sebring. The "student" was in his early 40s, very opinionated, stubborn, full of himself, and obviously intimidated by the entire experience. He wore a ponytail, which I found interesting, because he was anything but a free spirit.

A serious discussion erupted the next day at the instructor's meeting. Someone suggested that I should have just ridden along as a passenger, said nothing. But with danger lurking in every braking zone, that simply was not going to happen.

The discussion did raise some interesting questions about the actual function of our instruction. We, as instructors, derive great satisfaction from a student who listens and reacts and learns. We feel we are accomplishing something. But what are we actually accomplishing? What is the goal with a student who gains great pleasure from his track experience, yet will probably never advance beyond a certain DE run group? Is our goal to make a professional driver out of each student? Or is the goal to simply make sure the student has a great experience and doesn't hurt himself or others...and takes his/her car home in one piece? If a student drives well, but not great, do we accept the level of competence...and do we push on toward continued improvement? To what end?

And how does that goal-setting change with a student who does not listen and has no interest in instruction? What is our obligation as an instructor? To ensure safety and smiles and little else? If a student refuses to listen to our advice...are we reacting to that with our own bruised ego? Do we yank a driver off the track if he/she refuses to learn? Or do we wait until we feel danger lurks? And how do we know how much danger to accept?

There is a certain tribe of drivers who gain solo status and then are perfectly content to continue driving alone in the Green run group. They are comfortable there. Without additional instruction, they rarely improve. But that is where they want to be. They enjoy themselves, have a great time.

So, what is the goal of a DE? To educate? Or entertain? And what is the goal of the instructor when the student doesn't want to be instructed?
Wow. I'd hope that my region would NOT have encouraged you to just "sit there".

I think the goal of a DE is personal to each person out there. The organization's goal should be to provide a safe place for each person to work towards their goals. If the organization then wants to limit which goals it wants to encourage ("only guys looking to tool around" or "only guys who want to be race drivers") then it should set itself up as such. PCA seems to be a blend of all, and as such, it's their job to ensure a safe place for all types to fit in.

One guy might be hoping to go Pro some day. Another would likely be just as happy taking a drive in his favorite car through the countryside, but instead opted for the track so he can hang out with friends.

So along those lines, if someone has settled into green group, is happy there circling around at their pace, and they aren't a danger to themselves or others... I say, that's fine, leave them there. Let the instructors focus on the students who NEED or WANT the instruction.
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Old 03-22-2017, 01:47 PM
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I feel my goal as an instructor is:
#1 Make sure we're safe, all of us out on the track together
#2 Make sure the student brings their car home in the same shape they brought it
#3 Make sure they have fun

If I can also get them to be a better driver, that's just gravy. However I'm not a race coach and my job isn't to coach them to be a winning club racer.

If my student isn't taking instruction and is jeopardizing my safety and the safety of others, I think they should be talked to and asked to leave, with a full refund for the day.

Unfortunately that very rarely happens....
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