Gimme Grill

by admin on May 1, 2012

After reading your blog for several months, I have come to trust the respectful feedback that is given by the readers. I have my own situation that I wanted to get some advice on, because the last thing I want to do is come off as a “Gimme Pig!”

My father-in-law, on several occasions, has mentioned to DH and me that he is going to give us his backyard grill. It’s a beautiful grill, and has only been used a few times. They just don’t use it much, and he thinks it’s too big for the area he has it in. He knows ours is in bad shape, and thought that giving it to us would work out well on both ends. Please note, we never asked, hinted for, or otherwise insinuated that we wanted the grill, ever. Never brought it up, but gratefully accepted his offer when it was made. Here’s the catch — we still don’t have the grill, and it’s been about a year since he made the offer. My question is, how in the world to we bring it up? “Hey Dad, remember you mentioned that you wanted to give us your grill? Well, we’re ready for it now, because ours is falling apart!” just doesn’t sound right. I’m tempted to just go buy a new one, and forget the offer, but I can just hear him now, “Why in the world did you go out and buy a grill?? I told you you could have ours!” My husband hasn’t asked about it, because I don’t think he knows how to bring it up either. I would love to hear your readers take on this, and get some ideas on how to handle this! 0426-12

Meanwhile Dad is wondering why you two don’t make any arrangements to come pick up the grill.  It could be a communication break down where he thinks he’s made the offer and is simply waiting for you to remove it.   The next time you are with Dad, ask him, “Dad, on several occasions last year you mentioned giving us your large grill.  Did I misunderstand you and you were expecting me to arrange pick up of the grill? If you are not prepared to do without your grill, I completely understand. It’s a fine grill that serves you and Mom well.   I just need to know if I dropped the ball somehow.”    Basically your objective is to clear up any potential miscommunication and give Dad a way to back out of his offer gracefully yet also give him the opportunity to go forth with his offer.

I’ve been in Dad’s situation where an offer has been made to give something to someone and their reticence to accept it is interpreted as disinterest or even a non-verbal, “No, thank you”.   While being restrained about receiving a pretty cool gift is demure and tasteful, at some point it is beneficial to express a keen interest in actually receiving the offered item so its owner knows it well received and wanted.

{ 40 comments… read them below or add one }

Aje May 1, 2012 at 9:44 am

I see nothing wrong with bringing it up. Just say that yours is about to fall apart so if the offer is still there, you´ll make arrangements to pick it up. If not, then you´ll head over to the nearest grill store (or walmart, wherever) and get a new one. XD

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Politrix May 1, 2012 at 9:46 am

Now, THIS is the reason I like to read this site! Bravo, OP, for not being a “gimme pig” and considering the feelings of your FIL. And for being so gracious and polite.
And bravo to the Admin for a great solution. Just the sort of advice a lot of us can use for tricky situations like these. :)

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Sarah Jane May 1, 2012 at 9:47 am

“Dad, are you still thinking of parting with your beautiful grill? ‘Cause ours is about to fall apart, and we were considering going out to buy a new one, unless you still wanted us to have yours.”

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Gloria Shiner May 1, 2012 at 10:00 am

Well, I would comment except that the admin said exactly what I would have said.

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The Elf May 1, 2012 at 10:05 am

Since this is Dad we’re talking about, I’d go with the straight-forward response. Ask him if it is okay if you pick up the grill on X day, arrange for transportation, and if he is agreeable go for it.

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Stacey Frith-Smith May 1, 2012 at 10:14 am

You could ask dad what kind of grill he has (if you don’t already know) and tell him you are out browsing for things for the back yard (with summer coming up). Yes, it’s a “cutesy” way of bringing it up, but gives you an opener to go “did you want us to come take your beautiful grill off your hands or are you planning to use it another summer or two?” I dunno. These situations can be awkward because one never knows if the person who made the offer is feeling a sort of remorse at having suggested the gift or if it’s just a communication breakdown as Admin said. Good for you OP for being sensitive to all possibilities!

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Ashley May 1, 2012 at 10:25 am

This is perplexing to me because my father would have dropped the grill off the second he knew we expressed any interest in it, simply because then he wouldn’t have to deal with it anymore, lol.

I agree with admin, just say something like “You mentioned wanting to give us the grill, was there a good time we could come pick it up?”

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Elle May 1, 2012 at 10:37 am

A parent who loves you enough to have not attempted to feed you to wolves at any point between the ages of 13 and 22 can forgive low-degree tacky behavior. (And on a scale from 1 to totally gauche what the Admin and Sarah Jane have advised doesn’t even wiggle the needle).

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Rachel May 1, 2012 at 11:16 am

Why does the husband have no insight into the dad’s thought process? It’s family, not strangers, I don’t get why there is any worry about a faux pas.

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gramma dishes May 1, 2012 at 11:24 am

I totally agree with Admin. The only thing is that since it is your FIL, maybe your husband should be the one to approach his Dad. I guess it all depends on which of you is more comfortable doing it. But I’d do it soon because Dad may be thinking you really aren’t interested and will end up giving the grill to someone else!

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Angel May 1, 2012 at 11:37 am

I agree with Elf. If this is your own parents, I would just ask when can I come get the grill? But I am kind of surprised that they have not been bugging you about it. If it were my parents my dad would be calling or texting me every few days to ask when I was coming to get it LOL

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Shalamar May 1, 2012 at 11:38 am

This is a bit tricky. My husband and I had a similar experience with my dad a while back – Dad noticed that our kitchen chairs were looking quite threadbare and asked why we didn’t have them re-covered. I said honestly “We can’t really afford it.” He said “I’ll pay for it – go ahead and have it done, then let me know how much it cost.” We got it done a few months later, and I told Dad. (I didn’t present him with the bill or anything – I just said “We took your advice and had the chairs re-covered; it ended up costing $XXX.”) His response? “Oh, that’s nice.” He’d obviously forgotten about his offer, and I couldn’t figure out a non-tacky way to remind him. So, we paid for it ourselves, which was a bit of a blow – like I said, we were pretty broke at the time, and we had many other ways we could’ve thought of to spend that money!

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Ames May 1, 2012 at 11:52 am

I think Sarah Janes response would be the best one. That’s something I would say.

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The Elf May 1, 2012 at 12:00 pm

We have an opposite problem – My parents are going through a “cleaning out” phase now that they are retired. They are getting rid of stuff they don’t use. Fine, except that they don’t want to donate it or trash it (even when it is something worn out), so they keep giving it to us. For instance, my mother recently dropped by with a big bag of professional dress clothes that she no longer needs because she is retired. The problem? Mom and I have distinctly different styles and we don’t wear the same size. Some of this stuff was even my Grandmother’s, who died twenty years ago. I kept one basic black pencil skirt and donated the rest. It’s hard to say no to a gift, but I really, really, REALLY don’t want some of this stuff. They insist. The only thing I’ve been able to refuse was the 30+ year old sleeper sofa, and that was because the only way to get it out of the basement was to break it up. To make it worse, if it’s something at all from our childhood, my brother freaks out if I turn around and trash it. It doesn’t matter that I don’t have sentimental attachment to these objects. He does, but has no place to put them. Apparantly, as the only child with a house, I’m expected to hold his treasured belongings that my parents don’t want? Oh no, I put my foot down on that!

The worst was the sleds. After two years of arguing against taking the old, rusted, beyond repair sleds from our childhood, my parents just showed up with them one day. They’re perfect for your yard, they said. And our yard is perfect for sledding – for the one or two days in the winter we get the right kind and amount of snow, which we may or may not be off work for. If I want to go sledding then, I can get by with a trash bag and cardboard instead of a sled that looks more like a tentanus shot waiting to happen. They can be fixed, they said! Or sell them to a collector, they said! Uh, no. I gave my brother one chance at them before I took them to the dump, and you’d think I was trashing a priceless work of art the way he carried on. But he refused to take them, having no place for sleds in his apartment. He refused to get a storage unit, too. So to the dump they went. And I heard about it for a YEAR.

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Pam May 1, 2012 at 12:11 pm

I have had this kind of conversation with my parents and I just basically say “I don’t like bringing it up because I don’t want to come across as a greedy brat!!” Then I make sure they know that if they want to change their mind about giving me “x” that it would be perfectly fine but I’m ready for a new “x” and will go get one soon unless the offer still stands….
On a slightly different note, once I asked my mom about an old dresser that needed a new top that she had in storage…. she ended up bringing down to my house an almost identical one, that was very nice and had been in her living room! I was a little bit miffed because I did not want her nice one!! I wanted the old junky one because she obviously liked and was using the good one. I mention that because sometimes parents can still feel a little “obligation” or just good-hearted desire to take care of their kids…even when we’re taking care of themselves. I don’t in anyway think that OP is doing this, just saying that nice parents can be easy to take advantage of….!

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Justin May 1, 2012 at 12:13 pm

Another option would be to tell your FIL that you need to get a new grill and mention that he had been concerned about the size of his. Offer to buy a grill that would be a better fit for his space for him in exchange for the one he has. If there was a misunderstanding in the gift it opens the door to talk it out, plus you would have to buy a grill anyway so why not offer a win win scenario where he gets a new grill that fits his needs better and you get one that doesn’t meet his needs but meets yours.

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MellowedOne May 1, 2012 at 12:15 pm

I say you sneak over at night, take Dad’s grill, commiserate with him about his “stolen” grill and then have a barbecue a your house the next day.

Just kidding. *evil grin*

Admin’s advice is awesome.

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Jojo May 1, 2012 at 12:44 pm

Why not call him and ask him if he wants to come grill shopping with you for a nice small grill to exchange for the large one he doesn’t want anymore? He gets the grill he wants and you replace yours with a nice big one at the cost of a little one – win all round. Dad then has the chance to decline and arrange a time to pick up the grill with you, or to accept and everyone’s happy.

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icekat May 1, 2012 at 1:01 pm

“So, Dad, grilling season is coming up. Were you still planning on giving us your old grill? I’m afraid our old one won’t last another season, so if you’ve decided to keep yours, we’ll need to start shopping for a new one.”

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sv May 1, 2012 at 1:36 pm

I think just a polite , ” Hey Dad, we need a new grill…is yours still up for offer? No pressure, if you are still using it we’ll pick something up but otherwise we’d love to take it off your hands! ” Give him the opportunity to to keep it while at the same time let him know you would appreciate having it. If you just quietly go and buy a new grill you may inadvertantly offend him. And of course, if he does give you the new grill Dad should be your first BBQ guest :)

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Puzzled May 1, 2012 at 2:47 pm

Yep, that’s the way to go. I just recently had a similar incident occur with the offer of a desk from my FIL. It was some time since he had offered it before we could pick it up, so I just said, “Hey dad, is it still okay for me to have that desk?” He was thrilled to get rid of it.

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Xtina May 1, 2012 at 3:04 pm

Admin’s advice is right on. He has already offered, so just bring it up and ask if he’s still OK with you taking the grill, and if so, when can you pick it up. I am in a similar situation; some time ago, my parents offered to let me take my childhood bed that’s in my former room at their home to use in my home for my son. At the time, I wasn’t able to take it and told them yes, I’d love it but can’t take it now, but roughly a year later, I am ready for it. I simply brought it up to both of them and said, “if you’re still OK with me taking the bed, I’m ready for it now–but if you have changed your mind, I’m fine with finding another one”.

Especially within family, this should certainly not be a point of rudeness to inquire about something that was offered. As admin mentioned, he might have been waiting to be asked just that.

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Ann May 1, 2012 at 3:59 pm

It sounds to me like they were waiting for FIL to deliver it!

My dears, paraphrase Xtina’s statement, “if you’re still OK with me taking the bed, I’m ready for it now–but if you have changed your mind, I’m fine with finding another one”, and commence immediately to either picking up the grill, or buying a new one.

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Tara May 1, 2012 at 4:03 pm

Maybe a simple, “Hey Dad, do you still want me to take that grill off your hands? I think we’re ready to finally ditch the one we have.” ?? If he made the offer, he’s probably just waiting for you to take it.

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wowwow May 1, 2012 at 4:15 pm

I have offered my children numerous things before, but I always **assume** they will be the ones to pick them up, so if I make an offer, and the item continues to sit for a year, to me that’s a “no thank you”, so don’t be surprised if dad doesn’t give it someone else soon unless you jump in there.

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Mabel May 1, 2012 at 5:28 pm

My mom has a beautiful secretary with a mirror and an attached china cabinet that I’ve been in love with since I was a small child. She holds onto family stuff like Scrooge McDuck (took me years to get the pictures her grandmother painted that hung in my room as a child), but will buy all kinds of JUNK and give it to people for Christmas, birthday, etc. We think she’s a closet hoarder / shopping addict but avoids the giant piles by giving away the crap she buys.

The secretary is at my dad’s house, under a sheet. Yes, under a sheet, completely neglected. Yes, she said I could have it, but if I went and got it she would freak. I don’t want to ask because that gives her power. It’s not like the dad who may have forgotten; she uses this stuff as power plays. So whenever she asks me if I would like some of her ugly porcelain (no) or her teacup collection (yes), I simply remark, “I’d love to, Mom, but I have nothing to put it in.” I know that’s very PA, but what else can I do?

I will be heartbroken if my sister or someone ends up with the secretary. I had one in my room as a child that I absolutely loved. I came home from school one day and it was GONE. My things were on the floor where the piece had been. She gave it to her best friend and later when we visited their home, it was in their hall covered with junk. I am still upset about that. I don’t mention it, but it still hurts me.

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Angela May 1, 2012 at 5:36 pm

Oh, I can relate to Elf’s situation! My mom and stepdad are constantly bringing or giving us stuff. I usually take it and then donate it. They rarely ask about it. Maybe they’re too forgetful, but my guess is that they can’t bring themselves to donate it but if we donate it, that’s different.

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WaltzingMatilda May 1, 2012 at 6:04 pm

I’m a terrible coward about confronting people, so I’ll admit that I would go with a more oblique approach than the outright ‘So, when can we have your BBQ?’. Maybe ask Dad if he can make a recommendation about a brand of grill ‘Because ours has just about had it and we need to get another one before the summer’ and see what he says. If he says ‘take ours!’ then you know where you stand and can make arrangements to pick it up. If not, then you also know where you stand.

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AS May 1, 2012 at 6:54 pm

I like the admin’s advice. I really like Justin and Jojo’s suggestions of offering to buy FIL a new grill (which I am assuming you can afford to because you said that you were looking for a new grill yourself).

Elf – my parents had kind of a similar situation with me. They moved from a bigger apartment to a smaller and easier to maintain apartment in a different town. They had to get rid of a lot of stuff, including some of my childhood things I had (I am big on saving all kinds of stuff, so the collections were not something small, and mostly consists of useless stuff). I live half the way across the world, and it doesn’t seem I’ll be getting them to my apartment anytime soon. So, they kept things that are of high value sentimentally or monetarily, and got rid of all the other items. When I complained, my parents put the foot down and said that either I take them with me during my next visit, or they are going into the trash. I agreed to them trashing the stuff – and have absolutely no hard feelings towards them about it.
Maybe you should do that to your brother and see if it works.

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gramma dishes May 1, 2012 at 7:21 pm

Mabel ~~ WHO gave it to ‘her’ best friend? Your sister or your mother?

If your mother did it, I’m not sure there is much you could have done. But if your sister was the one who gave away your furniture, oh … I can assure you there would have been something said! There would have been a LOT said! :-[

In any case I’d make very clear to both Mom and Sister that whenever and under whatever circumstances may result in the transfer of the secretary in your Mom’s home to a “new” home, you definitely want dibs on this one since your childhood one was given away without your permission or even consulting with you first.

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lily May 1, 2012 at 10:01 pm

Although Admin is right and you just need to bring it up, unless you usually speak quite formally to your Dad saying, as Admin said, this (or something similar)

“Dad, on several occasions last year you mentioned giving us your large grill. Did I misunderstand you and you were expecting me to arrange pick up of the grill? If you are not prepared to do without your grill, I completely understand. It’s a fine grill that serves you and Mom well. I just need to know if I dropped the ball somehow.”

seems way too formal and over the top. He’s family, and I highly doubt many of us talk to our family in such a formal manner. Although I love Admins posts, sometimes I think she needs to be more realistic about what people say and the language/speech style they use with familiar people. Something said politely along the lines of “Dad, did you still want to give us the grill? Ours is nearly broken. If it’s still ok I’ll arrange a pick up” works much better instead of an entire paragraph of formality. He has the option of saying no, and you get your answer.

Generally, it is in good taste to save overly formal speech patterns for formal situations, or when clarity and precise wording are of necessity. Not to say we should all talk in slang or similar (quite the opposite!), but using formal language in an informal situation is clunky and sometimes makes people uncomfortable. Though that can work to your advantage in a disagreement, in daily speech around familiar people (friends and family) it is tedious to keep up unless a habit, and those without the habit can feel uncomfortable when they are ‘forced’ into formal speech because someone else talks with that pattern.

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Cat Whisperer May 2, 2012 at 12:37 am

When my mom passed away, my dad offered me her collection of Waterford and Orrefors crystal. My husband and I had presented most of the crystal to mom as Mother’s Day, birthday and Christmas gifts over a period of more than 15 years.

I told my dad no, I’d rather he keep mom’s crystal in his condo. I didn’t want to take it because I just couldn’t get used to the idea of my mom being gone, since her death was sudden and unexpected; and I was afraid that if I did take the crystal, my dad at a later date would accuse me of being greedy and grasping.

And, of course, I thought that there was no rush to do anything about my mom’s belongings, because I couldn’t envision any reason why my dad wouldn’t keep her things. I reasoned that I could ask my dad about the crystal at some date in the future. No hurry.

Just over a year and three months after my dad offered me the crystal and I told him I’d rather he keep it for the time being, he put a pot of cooking oil on the stove to make french fries, went to make a phone call in his bedroom, and forgot about the oil on the stove. The resulting fire completely destroyed the kitchen, living room and dining area, which was where the crystal was displayed. Every piece of crystal my mom had owned was destroyed. Gone forever.

I believe I made the right decision to not take the crystal right when my dad first offered it, but I wish I’d taken up the issue with him sometime in the months that followed. I never thought about the possibility of something destroying every piece of crystal my mom had ever owned.

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Enna May 2, 2012 at 3:45 am

@ Mabel, how old were you when the furniture was given away? If you were a child I don’t think there was much you could do but it’s a bit odd that your stuff was just left on the floor – not very considearted doesn’t matter if you were a child, teenager or adult at the time if your mum did that: she wouldn’t like it if she was infirm and you made decisions like that without talking to her or if you treated her belongings in the same way by dumping them on the floor. It may be her house etc but she should have checked first or at least got you to empty it and not replace it. It’s rude for your mother (if it was your mother) to firends then not give stuff to you.

The OP should just have a word with her Dad. I don’t think there is any “gimme pig” here as the father had already said OP and husband can have it – he’ll still benefit from it when he’s invited round for BBQs. Maybe the OP’s Dad can’t move it himself or doesn’t want to drop it off at an inconvient time. So long as it’s said politely/nicely then there’s no etiquette issue about asking about the BBQ – if Dad has chanaged his mind accept it and buy one.

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Margaret May 2, 2012 at 6:08 am

I think you should be straightforward about asking if the offer still stands. If you try to hint at it by asking for grill recommendations, the dad might instead take it as a subtle hint that you don’t actually want his grill and NOT offer it again.

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Katie Houston May 2, 2012 at 8:32 am

Mabel – just go and get it from your Dad’s house. So what if she freaks – she has already said you can have it! Otherwise you run the risk of losing it and since you are clearly still upset about the loss of the one from your childhood, this would be a double blow!

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Wink-N-Smile May 2, 2012 at 8:33 am

The Elf – when I read about your parents, I felt a kinship. I have a similar issue with my mother. She only wants her old things to go to family.

As for your brother – my first thought was for him to get a storage unit. Since he refuses, it’s his own fault that things HE wants are not stored, and he has no right to complain. Of course, if you tell him that, he’ll probably complain about that, as well.

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Wink-N-Smile May 2, 2012 at 8:43 am

Oh, Cat Whisperer – that’s really sad!

A lesson not to leave stuff undone for too long. You never know what might happen.

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The Elf May 2, 2012 at 10:11 am

I’ll try, AS. If it’s something small and highly valued (monetary or sentimental), I could probably store it easier than my brother. But I do not want to be a storage unit for all the things he holds near and dear, which appears to be everything that he ever had as a child. There’s probably a compromise in there we could make if it comes up again.

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Jojo May 2, 2012 at 4:59 pm

@Mabel- sometimes you just have to get devious with your more challenging relatives. Yes, you can wait until the inevitable disappointment you will feel when your mother deliberately gifts the secretary to someone who doesn’t really want or need it. Or, you could just go and pick it up and put up with the fall out. Or you could sit down and work out what it is she’s trying to achieve by gifting something you love to someone else- perhaps she wants their approval more than she needs yours and is giving them something she loves to get that response from them? And then use some reverse psychology to get hold of it. But at the end of the day, maybe it’s best just to let go of a silly piece of furniture and work on developing a better relationship with your mother all round?

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OP May 9, 2012 at 11:21 am

Thanks for the great advice! I realized after reading your comments that I was making a bigger deal out of it than it needed to be. We’ve since contacted FIL/MIL, and the grill is ours! We just need to go pick it up.

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