How critical is the return of passengers and busy trains for railway jobs?

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Clayton

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The thing is, though, if you're at the start of your career you no longer have to live in a "crappy flat" and work "on an ironing board", because you no longer need to live in London (which is where this mostly goes on due to the outrageous property prices). You can get the gains mentioned by going in 2 days a week, and that can allow for a longer commute, e.g. from the Midlands where housing is cheaper. Or perhaps it'd be viable to stay with your parents for a few years and save for a deposit on your own place. Benefits all round there.

But either way, where people work is not a matter for the Government, and their nose needs to be kept firmly out of it. It is a matter between employer, employee and (where applicable) Union. There is the H&S aspect, but (pre COVID) just making a declaration has handled that in a way people are generally happy with; perhaps a right to employer funded "proper" desk/chair might be worth considering, that said. The Government has no business encouraging travel, when travel is to be discouraged because of environmental issues. If that causes Pret issues, they might want to consider setting up cafes in residential areas instead for homeworkers to pop out for lunch (I often did this pre-COVID). If it causes the railway issues, that needs to restructure around the actual travel demands that are presented to it, not set about creating them.

I could not be more opposed to the idea of a policy of legally-enforced Luddism.
I think that if you are at the start of your career you are more likely to be concerned about meeting people and learning from colleagues. You probably won’t want to live with your parents or commute from the Midlands. But that’s for another discussion
 
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Deafdoggie

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I'm not so sure commuters and business will be as great a loss as feared. Hear me out...

During covid etc, WFH was installed and "proven". So then you have had the Reddit types all singing the praises of WFH and how they'll demand WFH be available when they move to their next bod job and so on.

However....

Counter 1) - it is emerging that people are getting tired of WFH. They cannot mentally switch off. Work life and personal life, the boundaries are blurring. They want those boundaries back.
Counter 2) - not everyone is privileged enough to be able to work in a separate room, a study or god forbid, a 'personal office'. I have a good friend who works as customer support via text chat / IM for Vodafone. She works in her bedroom as she lives in a let, and resents it. Interns, grads, and lower class office workers (ie not execs) aren't going to have these nice large houses with extra rooms.
Counter 3) - (and this one makes me smile when the redditor types suddenly mentally go quiet) ---- if your digital/knowledge economy/online job can be done remotely - London core, but you're based and sat in Milton Keynes - what's to prevent that remote working from stretching to say, India? Afterall, 3Mobile at one point had all their customer services ops based in India, but in 2015 moved their complaints back to Scotland because 3 were loosing customers due to said complaints and issues - but the basic customer service assistants were I believe still foreign. So, do these eager WFH want to be jobbed out?

I think we'll reach a compromise where a load will go back full time, some will do mix like 3-4 days in and 1-2 days out, or alternate things and a small elite few WFH majorly.
Point 2, a lot of people have found they don't need to live near the office any more. They can live anywhere and WFH, so can choose somewhere cheaper to live.
I doubt point 3 will come to pass. Companies that moved call centres abroad have largely come back to the UK, as "cultural differences" found it was costing them business. They've settled back in the UK.
 

SuperNova

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Point 2, a lot of people have found they don't need to live near the office any more. They can live anywhere and WFH, so can choose somewhere cheaper to live.
I doubt point 3 will come to pass. Companies that moved call centres abroad have largely come back to the UK, as "cultural differences" found it was costing them business. They've settled back in the UK.
Point 2 means potentially longer less frequent commutes, which rail can supplement.

Government policy is also key here. I cannot see this or any government allowing permanent WFH without taxation accordingly - the economic hit to GDP per year is estimated to be at least £15bn.
 

Bletchleyite

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Point 2 means potentially longer less frequent commutes, which rail can supplement.

Government policy is also key here. I cannot see this or any government allowing permanent WFH without taxation accordingly - the economic hit to GDP per year is estimated to be at least £15bn.

I don't get why it should be. Businesses that serve the lunchtime market at offices can serve it in local housing areas instead, the local butcher, baker etc can come back etc. It's full of benefits to the economy even if not GDP (which I don't care a jot about, TBH, I care about how the economy provides for people).

I'm sorry, but I strongly object to the idea that my working pattern should be anyone's decision other than between me and my employer. I am not making employment decisions for the benefit of Pret a Manger shareholders.
 

SuperNova

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I don't get why it should be. Businesses that serve the lunchtime market at offices can serve it in local housing areas instead, the local butcher, baker etc can come back etc. It's full of benefits to the economy even if not GDP (which I don't care a jot about, TBH, I care about how the economy provides for people).

I'm sorry, but I strongly object to the idea that my working pattern should be anyone's decision other than between me and my employer. I am not making employment decisions for the benefit of Pret a Manger shareholders.
You might not care about GDP, but it has a massive impact on this country on policy, investment and taxation.

The idea that those WFH suddenly will spend it locally is also wishful thinking. My housemate has WFH for a year and only twice gone out for lunch in the small town where we live because the variety is poor and a few butty shops and cafes (very overpriced locally) don't offer the eclectic mix a city centre does.

Finally, if WFH leads to further collapse of town and city centres, then government will make decisions that will impact your employment decisions - and not for Pret a Manger shareholders, but for jobs and unemployment reasons.
 

XAM2175

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The idea that those WFH suddenly will spend it locally is also wishful thinking. My housemate has WFH for a year and only twice gone out for lunch in the small town where we live because the variety is poor and a few butty shops and cafes (very overpriced locally) don't offer the eclectic mix a city centre does.
1) As your anecdata itself suggests, that's highly dependent on location - in my case the options close to my house are far more numerous, and generally better, than the ones near my former office - and 2) you're not allowing for the fact that many of the options (of all types and qualities) have been closed or otherwise limited for much of the past year. You can't directly draw conclusions on consumer behaviour when there are no restrictions on trading based on how they act when there are restrictions in place.
 

Ianno87

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1) As your anecdata itself suggests, that's highly dependent on location - in my case the options close to my house are far more numerous, and generally better, than the ones near my former office - and 2) you're not allowing for the fact that many of the options (of all types and qualities) have been closed or otherwise limited for much of the past year. You can't directly draw conclusions on consumer behaviour when there are no restrictions on trading based on how they act when there are restrictions in place.

Plus I've visited offices on business parks on the like that have nothing or very little in the vicinty for lunch, so most folks bring their own lunch already.
 

bramling

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You might not care about GDP, but it has a massive impact on this country on policy, investment and taxation.

The idea that those WFH suddenly will spend it locally is also wishful thinking. My housemate has WFH for a year and only twice gone out for lunch in the small town where we live because the variety is poor and a few butty shops and cafes (very overpriced locally) don't offer the eclectic mix a city centre does.

Finally, if WFH leads to further collapse of town and city centres, then government will make decisions that will impact your employment decisions - and not for Pret a Manger shareholders, but for jobs and unemployment reasons.

I suspect there is going to be quite a bit of lobbying from interest groups associated with the likes of city centre hospitality.

I’d say there’s a pretty good chance we’ll see some gentle “back to the office” encouragement before the year is out.

At the moment there’s a lot of “I don’t want to return to my office”, which doesn’t mean the same thing as “I won’t be returning to my office”, especially when in a lot of cases it goes hand in hand with “We’re sorry, but due to our staff working from home, we’re unable to fully ...”
 

Need2

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As I've said before.
WFM salaries will drop (at least for new recruits) as companies will no longer have to pay staff (especially in London) a premium/London Weighting
 

YorkshireBear

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I suspect there is going to be quite a bit of lobbying from interest groups associated with the likes of city centre hospitality.

I’d say there’s a pretty good chance we’ll see some gentle “back to the office” encouragement before the year is out.

At the moment there’s a lot of “I don’t want to return to my office”, which doesn’t mean the same thing as “I won’t be returning to my office”, especially when in a lot of cases it goes hand in hand with “We’re sorry, but due to our staff working from home, we’re unable to fully ...”

On the last point I think that is something that some don't seem to get.

WFH during pandemic with a WFH advice in place, internet isn't good enough and causes issues, oh well can't be helped.

WFH no pandemic same situation the outcome instead is, come to the office so you can do your job effectively. If not then we'll the company may be within its rights to take various action. That may stop some from staying WFH forever.

For me in my line of work the loss of team working and bouncing ideas off each other has had an impact.
 

DorkingMain

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And that big city worker might shift the hours they work from a 9-5 to say 11-7 to allow use of off-peak tickets rather than paying for an anytime ticket on the days they go into the office.
I think this will be a big point. Commuter railways have traditionally worked on the basis of a piecemeal off-peak timetable, sometimes offering a narrower range of destinations, and then a very intense peak time service.

When you're trying to target the leisure market, or people who will be travelling to the office less or in less consistent patterns, this won't work. I think there will need to be a lot of focus on running a decent, consistent off-peak timetable with less amping up at 7:30am and 5pm.
 

Ianno87

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On the last point I think that is something that some don't seem to get.

WFH during pandemic with a WFH advice in place, internet isn't good enough and causes issues, oh well can't be helped.

WFH no pandemic same situation the outcome instead is, come to the office so you can do your job effectively. If not then we'll the company may be within its rights to take various action. That may stop some from staying WFH forever.

For me in my line of work the loss of team working and bouncing ideas off each other has had an impact.

1) I find it hard to believe there's anything more than a smallish minority of people who are adamant that they'll never visit the office again. I think they are the exception rather than the rule (but are usually vocal about it). In some cases, I think this set of people will start to become less effective / more silo-d from their colleagues (although some will be able to do their jobs perfectly well), if they insist on being dogmatic about it. But I've got not particular issue with them choosing to do this should they so wish / it suits them best.

2) I think a the largest majority will want to work from home more / most of the time, but recognise that they'll need office days here and there.

3) And there'll be some gagging for a return to the office most or all of the time.


Personally, I'm probably somewhere between (2) and (3). Maybe 2-and-a-third.
 

Bletchleyite

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You might not care about GDP, but it has a massive impact on this country on policy, investment and taxation.

The idea that those WFH suddenly will spend it locally is also wishful thinking. My housemate has WFH for a year and only twice gone out for lunch in the small town where we live because the variety is poor and a few butty shops and cafes (very overpriced locally) don't offer the eclectic mix a city centre does.

Do you not see a business opportunity there? We need to develop forwards, not hark backwards to an age that was slowly dying.

By the way some combination of Subway, Pret, McD's, KFC and BK is not "eclectic", it's downright dull.

Finally, if WFH leads to further collapse of town and city centres, then government will make decisions that will impact your employment decisions - and not for Pret a Manger shareholders, but for jobs and unemployment reasons.

I strongly hope they don't, but instead provide assistance to businesses to move forwards. Governments seem to love institutional Luddism, but it is downright wrong. The economy must be allowed to develop with the primary aim of best providing for people and how those people want to live.

1) I find it hard to believe there's anything more than a smallish minority of people who are adamant that they'll never visit the office again. I think they are the exception rather than the rule (but are usually vocal about it). In some cases, I think this set of people will start to become less effective / more silo-d from their colleagues (although some will be able to do their jobs perfectly well), if they insist on being dogmatic about it. But I've got not particular issue with them choosing to do this should they so wish / it suits them best.

2) I think a the largest majority will want to work from home more / most of the time, but recognise that they'll need office days here and there.

3) And there'll be some gagging for a return to the office most or all of the time.


Personally, I'm probably somewhere between (2) and (3). Maybe 2-and-a-third.

My ideal arrangement would remain 2 days in, 3 home. For places like Pret I reckon that might do them a favour, because daily I might take sandwiches to save money, but for 2 days a week I might spend more on a nicer lunch experience. Once all COVID restrictions are gone I will probably unilaterally return to popping into the office once a week to change scenery, but I'm not doing that until it won't look like the COVID H&S equivalent of a desk in the middle of a building site, be that 6 months or 6 years, as that carries no enjoyment.

When you're trying to target the leisure market, or people who will be travelling to the office less or in less consistent patterns, this won't work. I think there will need to be a lot of focus on running a decent, consistent off-peak timetable with less amping up at 7:30am and 5pm.

I think there is a very big chance that London commuter operations will be able to follow the likes of Merseyrail with an all-day, all-week (possibly different on Sundays) clockface timetable, running 8 car all day but 12 towards London arriving 0730-0930 and away from London 1630-1930 or thereabouts, rather than cramming in a messy timetable of extra services. This is a rather good thing.

For me in my line of work the loss of team working and bouncing ideas off each other has had an impact.

You need to design for that using collaborative tools, and a daily status meeting is an absolute must.
 
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RH Liner

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I'm not so sure commuters and business will be as great a loss as feared. Hear me out...

During covid etc, WFH was installed and "proven". So then you have had the Reddit types all singing the praises of WFH and how they'll demand WFH be available when they move to their next bod job and so on.

However....

Counter 1) - it is emerging that people are getting tired of WFH. They cannot mentally switch off. Work life and personal life, the boundaries are blurring. They want those boundaries back.
Counter 2) - not everyone is privileged enough to be able to work in a separate room, a study or god forbid, a 'personal office'. I have a good friend who works as customer support via text chat / IM for Vodafone. She works in her bedroom as she lives in a let, and resents it. Interns, grads, and lower class office workers (ie not execs) aren't going to have these nice large houses with extra rooms.
Counter 3) - (and this one makes me smile when the redditor types suddenly mentally go quiet) ---- if your digital/knowledge economy/online job can be done remotely - London core, but you're based and sat in Milton Keynes - what's to prevent that remote working from stretching to say, India? Afterall, 3Mobile at one point had all their customer services ops based in India, but in 2015 moved their complaints back to Scotland because 3 were loosing customers due to said complaints and issues - but the basic customer service assistants were I believe still foreign. So, do these eager WFH want to be jobbed out?

I think we'll reach a compromise where a load will go back full time, some will do mix like 3-4 days in and 1-2 days out, or alternate things and a small elite few WFH majorly.
It was during that time when everything was outsourced to Asia that I rang a call centre and, after being looked after by a really helpful guy, I asked him what part of India he was in. ‘Middlesbrough,’ he replied, laughing.
 

Ianno87

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You need to design for that using collaborative tools, and a daily status meeting is an absolute must.

There's some things that cannot be done better than by a few of you in the same room standing around a flipchart/whiteboard to get the creative juices flowing.
 

bramling

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There's some things that cannot be done better than by a few of you in the same room standing around a flipchart/whiteboard to get the creative juices flowing.

I don’t know, one of the few positives things for me from the last year is that my place *hasn’t* had a team day! Our last one in 2019 resulted in two people storming out, two grievances, and more unresolved issues than we went in with!

I tend to agree though that being silo’d up is not really helpful. Workplace collaboration is very good for wellbeing, as whilst things can be toxic at times (see above!), the good people tend to outnumber the bad.
 

YorkshireBear

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You need to design for that using collaborative tools, and a daily status meeting is an absolute must.
Yeah we do that but it still doesn't replace being able to just stand over a drawing or look at a map together for two minutes. There is something in the human nature about it being more effort to call someone than stand up and walk 3m for a quick chat.

I don't disagree that collaborative tools can replace some of it.
 

Purple Orange

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As I've said before.
WFM salaries will drop (at least for new recruits) as companies will no longer have to pay staff (especially in London) a premium/London Weighting

I see this as a risk to London based staff, but not those outside the capital. WFH doesn’t come free to employers or employees either - if you’re permanently working from home, it is the responsibility the employer to ensure you have adequate working tools (chair, desk, monitors, broadband etc). If you’re working from home 1-2 days per week, which will be closer to the norm, it’s not a million. Lies away from pre-covid. Prior to the pandemic I worked from home at least 1 day per week and travelled to one of the other offices 1 day per week too, with 3 days per week in my ‘base’ office. Going forward, I expect to see 2 days wfh, 1 day every two weeks in another location and the rest in my ‘base’ office.
 

AgentGemini

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It was during that time when everything was outsourced to Asia that I rang a call centre and, after being looked after by a really helpful guy, I asked him what part of India he was in. ‘Middlesbrough,’ he replied, laughing.

Fair play to that company for having UK based call centre staff! 3Mobile were all actually Indian outsourced - it was something their newly-transfered/setup Glasgow based complaints office fessed upto on my leaving call when we'd had a massive complaint over my transferring to new provider.

Right then. Back to my point about WFH not being quite the promised land people were hoping for. Interesting article in today's Guardian.

I think at best it'll be a compromise with say 3 days in and 2 days out or a flexible basis of usually in office but so many days allowed at home, if you need a 'day out'. It most certainly won't be the 100% WFH the redditors are hyping for. Too many issues.
 

Robertj21a

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You might not care about GDP, but it has a massive impact on this country on policy, investment and taxation.

The idea that those WFH suddenly will spend it locally is also wishful thinking. My housemate has WFH for a year and only twice gone out for lunch in the small town where we live because the variety is poor and a few butty shops and cafes (very overpriced locally) don't offer the eclectic mix a city centre does.

Finally, if WFH leads to further collapse of town and city centres, then government will make decisions that will impact your employment decisions - and not for Pret a Manger shareholders, but for jobs and unemployment reasons.
I significally disagree with much of that. People who now WFH are finding that their local town/village has so much to offer that they are fairly disinterested in bothering with trips to bigger towns and cities. Clearly, we need pubs and restaurants to reopen fully but I see the city centres suffering quite badly in years to come.
 

Bletchleyite

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I significally disagree with much of that. People who now WFH are finding that their local town/village has so much to offer that they are fairly disinterested in bothering with trips to bigger towns and cities. Clearly, we need pubs and restaurants to reopen fully but I see the city centres suffering quite badly in years to come.

And they will evolve too. People seem to be stuck with the idea of city centres full of chain stores being a good thing. Chains are a blip on history, they only really existed to any great extent (other than a few long-running ones) for about 50 years or so.

I'd welcome a greater dominance of independent business.
 

philosopher

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1) I find it hard to believe there's anything more than a smallish minority of people who are adamant that they'll never visit the office again. I think they are the exception rather than the rule (but are usually vocal about it). In some cases, I think this set of people will start to become less effective / more silo-d from their colleagues (although some will be able to do their jobs perfectly well), if they insist on being dogmatic about it. But I've got not particular issue with them choosing to do this should they so wish / it suits them best.
Most companies I assume are going to expect their staff to come into the office at least occasionally. Many workers will probably get away with only working once a week at the office, but if they never come in I suspect they would find themselves out of a job.

Obviously there will be exceptions, for example those working in companies that go fully remote.
 

mrd269697

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To jump in, I’m a retailer working in the Merseyside area. We are quite unique in that nearly every station in the county (bar Meols Cop, Rainford, Upton and Heswall) are staffed full time. Most stations outside of big cities across the country have no staff. We do more than sell tickets, we upkeep the station, so I think we are blessed where we are that there’s always a member of staff on sight. So, especially in my situation, I think it’s vital we get patronage up, hopefully to near the levels pre covid. This means we need the rush hour office commuters back. It does worry me if it doesn’t come back as to whether jobs like mine will be seen as redundant.
 

Ianno87

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I don’t know, one of the few positives things for me from the last year is that my place *hasn’t* had a team day! Our last one in 2019 resulted in two people storming out, two grievances, and more unresolved issues than we went in with!

Not really team days. Generally just planning out how to approach a project, or solve a problem.
 

Bletchleyite

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To jump in, I’m a retailer working in the Merseyside area. We are quite unique in that nearly every station in the county (bar Meols Cop, Rainford, Upton and Heswall) are staffed full time. Most stations outside of big cities across the country have no staff. We do more than sell tickets, we upkeep the station, so I think we are blessed where we are that there’s always a member of staff on sight. So, especially in my situation, I think it’s vital we get patronage up, hopefully to near the levels pre covid. This means we need the rush hour office commuters back. It does worry me if it doesn’t come back as to whether jobs like mine will be seen as redundant.

Is that actually true? Commuters are the ones mostly not making use of the ticket office because they have a season ticket. What I guess you need back to make best use of ticket office staff is leisure passengers who will want tickets, advice and possibly reassurance.

Not really team days. Generally just planning out how to approach a project, or solve a problem.

We would tend to do this by planning workshop weeks or similar at the start of a project. Of course not everyone is doing project-based work, but I do see that sort of "targetted" use of offices (or even hired facilities in hotels and the likes) being the way that sort of work is likely to go. When it's time to get your head down and build stuff, at home (with a daily "standup" meeting) is going to be best for most.

That of course means even for a London based firm no need to live in London - and creates new long distance sales for the railway.

Most companies I assume are going to expect their staff to come into the office at least occasionally. Many workers will probably get away with only working once a week at the office, but if they never come in I suspect they would find themselves out of a job.

Why do you think that? I would expect that people who work from home and do not deliver the expected amount of work/quality of service not to last long, but for those who do why would their job be in any way threatened?
 

Ken H

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to change tack away from WFH, the railway needs to get leisure travellers back. No-one will want to sit on a Leeds -Carlisle train for 3 hours in a mask to gawp at pen-y-Ghent. Until masks wearing stops, leisure travel will not recover. Cant see people wanting to travel into a city to shop while they have to wear masks in shops either.
 

Robertj21a

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to change tack away from WFH, the railway needs to get leisure travellers back. No-one will want to sit on a Leeds -Carlisle train for 3 hours in a mask to gawp at pen-y-Ghent. Until masks wearing stops, leisure travel will not recover. Cant see people wanting to travel into a city to shop while they have to wear masks in shops either.
You clearly don't know many female shopaholics.....
 

dk1

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to change tack away from WFH, the railway needs to get leisure travellers back. No-one will want to sit on a Leeds -Carlisle train for 3 hours in a mask to gawp at pen-y-Ghent. Until masks wearing stops, leisure travel will not recover. Cant see people wanting to travel into a city to shop while they have to wear masks in shops either.
Seems quite natural to wear them now. Don’t think they bother people that much, certainly doesn’t bother me wearing them.
 

greyman42

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Seems quite natural to wear them now. Don’t think they bother people that much, certainly doesn’t bother me wearing them.
If you wish to wear one then fine. I hater them and there is nothing "natural" about them.
 
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