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MY FIRST, CHARMED week as a student at Harvard Business School, late in the summer of 2001, felt like a halcyon time for capitalism. AOL Time Warner, Yahoo and Napster were benevolently connecting the world. Enron and WorldCom were bringing innovation to hidebound industries. President George W. Bush — an H.B.S. graduate himself — had promised to deliver progress and prosperity with businesslike efficiency.

2001年夏末,我作为哈佛商学院学生度过的第一周十分愉快,感觉像是资本主义的一段昔日美好时光。美国在线时代华纳(AOL Time Warner)、雅虎(Yahoo)和纳普斯特(Napster)好心地连接着世界。安然(Enron)和世界通信公司(WorldCom)为墨守成规的行业带来了创新。乔治·W·布什总统——他本人也是哈佛商学院的毕业生——曾承诺要以务实的效率实现进步和繁荣。
The next few years would prove how little we (and Washington and much of corporate America) really understood about the economy and the world. But at the time, for the 895 first-years preparing ourselves for business moguldom, what really excited us was our good luck. A Harvard M.B.A. seemed like a winning lottery ticket, a gilded highway to world-changing influence, fantastic wealth and — if those self-satisfied portraits that lined the hallways were any indication — a lifetime of deeply meaningful work.
接下来的几年将证明,我们(以及华盛顿和大部分美国企业)对经济和世界的真正了解是多么地少。但在当时,对895名正在准备让自己成为商业大亨的一年级新生来说,真正让我们兴奋的是我们的好运。哈佛的工商管理硕士学位就像是一张中奖的彩票,一条通往改变世界影响力的镀金高速公路,惊人的财富,以及——如果走廊两旁那些自鸣得意的肖像能说明什么的话——一份终身从事的意义深远的工作。
So it came as a bit of a shock, when I attended my 15th reunion last summer, to learn how many of my former classmates weren’t overjoyed by their professional lives — in fact, they were miserable. I heard about one fellow alum who had run a large hedge fund until being sued by investors (who also happened to be the fund manager’s relatives). Another person had risen to a senior role inside one of the nation’s most prestigious companies before being savagely pushed out by corporate politics. Another had learned in the maternity ward that her firm was being stolen by a conniving partner.
因此,当我去年夏天参加第15次同学会时,我感到有些震惊。因为我发现,以前的同学中有许多人对自己的职业生活并没有欣喜若狂——事实上,他们很痛苦。我听说,一位校友曾经营一支大型对冲基金,直到他被投资人起诉(而那些人正好是他的亲戚)。另一个人曾在美国最负盛名的公司之一担任高级职务,后来则被公司政治无情地挤走了。还有一个在产房里得知,她的公司被一个阴险的合伙人偷走了。
Those were extreme examples, of course. Most of us were living relatively normal, basically content lives. But even among my more sanguine classmates, there was a lingering sense of professional disappointment. They talked about missed promotions, disaffected children and billable hours in divorce court. They complained about jobs that were unfulfilling, tedious or just plain bad. One classmate described having to invest $5 million a day — which didn’t sound terrible, until he explained that if he put only $4 million to work on Monday, he had to scramble to place $6 million on Tuesday, and his co-workers were constantly undermining one another in search of the next promotion. It was insanely stressful work, done among people he didn’t particularly like. He earned about $1.2 million a year and hated going to the office.
当然,这些都是极端的例子。我们中的大多数都过着相对正常、基本满足的生活。但即使在我那些比较乐观的同学中间,职业上的失望情绪也挥之不去。他们谈论着错失的晋升机会、疏远的孩子以及离婚法庭的可计费时数。他们抱怨工作没有成就感、单调乏味,或者干脆就是糟糕。一位同学描述,他每天必须投资500万美元——这听起来并不可怕,直到他解释说,如果他周一只投了400万,那么他将不得不在周二努力投入600万。而为了谋求下一次晋升机会,他的同事们总是在互相诋毁。那是一项压力巨大的工作,并且要在他不特别喜欢的人中间完成。他一年能挣大约120万美元,他讨厌上班。
“I feel like I’m wasting my life,” he told me. “When I die, is anyone going to care that I earned an extra percentage point of return? My work feels totally meaningless.” He recognized the incredible privilege of his pay and status, but his anguish seemed genuine. “If you spend 12 hours a day doing work you hate, at some point it doesn’t matter what your paycheck says,” he told me. There’s no magic salary at which a bad job becomes good. He had received an offer at a start-up, and he would have loved to take it, but it paid half as much, and he felt locked into a lifestyle that made this pay cut impossible. “My wife laughed when I told her about it,” he said.
“我觉得自己在糟蹋生命,”他告诉我。“我死后,会有人在意我多赚了一个百分点的回报吗?我的工作感觉完全没有意义。”他承认自己的收入和地位带来了不可思议的特权,但痛苦似乎也是真实的。“如果你每天12个小时做一份你讨厌的工作,在某个时候,你的工资根本无法安慰到你,”他说。没有什么神奇的薪水能让一份糟糕的工作变好。他曾经收到过一家初创公司的工作邀请,本来很想去,但薪水只有原来的一半,他觉得自己被一种生活方式拴住了,根本无法接受减薪。“当我告诉妻子这件事的时候,她大笑起来,”他说。
After our reunion, I wondered if my Harvard class — or even just my own friends there — were an anomaly. So I began looking for data about the nation’s professional psyche. What I found was that my classmates were hardly unique in their dissatisfaction; even in a boom economy, a surprising portion of Americans are professionally miserable right now. In the mid-1980s, roughly 61 percent of workers told pollsters they were satisfied with their jobs. Since then, that number has declined substantially, hovering around half; the low point was in 2010, when only 43 percent of workers were satisfied, according to data collected by the Conference Board, a nonprofit research organization. The rest said they were unhappy, or at best neutral, about how they spent the bulk of their days. Even among professionals given to lofty self-images, like those in medicine and law, other studies have noted a rise in discontent. Why? Based on my own conversations with classmates and the research I began reviewing, the answer comes down to oppressive hours, political infighting, increased competition sparked by globalization, an “always-on culture” bred by the internet — but also something that’s hard for these professionals to put their finger on, an underlying sense that their work isn’t worth the grueling effort they’re putting into it.
在我们重聚之后,我想知道我在哈佛的同班同学——哪怕只是我在班上的朋友——的情况是否属于异常。于是我开始寻找这个国家职业心理的有关数据。结果发现,我同学的不满并非特例;即使在经济繁荣的时期,也有比例高得让人吃惊的一部分美国人存在职业痛苦。在20世纪80年代中期,大约61%的员工对自己的工作感到满意。从那以后,这个数字大幅下降,在50%左右徘徊;最低是在2010年,只有43%的员工感到满意,以上数据来自世界大型企业联合会(Conference Board)。其余的人则说,他们大多数时候都对工作不开心,或者最多也就是不确定。甚至是在赋予崇高自我形象的专业人士当中,比如医学和法律从业者,其他的一些研究也注意到了他们身上不满情绪的上升。为什么会这样呢?根据我跟同学的对话,以及开始查阅的研究,答案可以归结为难以忍受的工作时数、政治内耗、全球化带来的竞争加剧、互联网孕育出的“永远在线文化”——但还有这些职场人士也说不清的原因,那是一种隐隐的感觉——他们的工作不值得他们投入那么多辛苦。
This wave of dissatisfaction is especially perverse because corporations now have access to decades of scientific research about how to make jobs better. “We have so much evidence about what people need,” says Adam Grant, a professor of management and psychology at the University of Pennsylvania (and a contributing opinion writer at The Times). Basic financial security, of course, is critical — as is a sense that your job won’t disappear unexpectedly. What’s interesting, however, is that once you can provide financially for yourself and your family, according to studies, additional salary and benefits don’t reliably contribute to worker satisfaction. Much more important are things like whether a job provides a sense of autonomy — the ability to control your time and the authority to act on your unique expertise. People want to work alongside others whom they respect (and, optimally, enjoy spending time with) and who seem to respect them in return.
这种不满情绪之所以尤其反常,是因为企业现在可以接触到数十年来关于如何改善工作的科学研究。宾夕法尼亚大学(University of Pennsylvania)的管理学和心理学教授、同时也是《纽约时报》观点文章撰稿人的亚当·格兰特(Adam Grant)表示,“关于人们的需求,我们有大量证据。”当然,基本的财务安全是至关重要的,同样重要的是工作饭碗的安全感。然而,有趣的是,根据多项研究,一旦你能为自己和家人提供经济上的支持,额外的工资和福利并不一定会提高员工的满意度。更重要的事情是,诸如工作是否能提供自主权——能够控制时间的能力,以及根据自己的独特专长行事的权力。人们希望与他们尊重的人一起工作(最好还能一起消磨时间),以及对方似乎也尊重他们。
And finally, workers want to feel that their labors are meaningful. “You don’t have to be curing cancer,” says Barry Schwartz, a visiting professor of management at the University of California, Berkeley. We want to feel that we’re making the world better, even if it’s as small a matter as helping a shopper find the right product at the grocery store. “You can be a salesperson, or a toll collector, but if you see your goal as solving people’s problems, then each day presents 100 opportunities to improve someone’s life, and your satisfaction increases dramatically,” Schwartz says.
最后,员工想要感到他们付出的劳动是有意义的。“你不需要是在治愈癌症,”加州大学伯克利分校(University of California, Berkeley)管理学访问教授巴里·施瓦茨(Barry Schwartz)说。我们想要感到我们在让世界变得更好,即便只是像帮购物者在杂货店找到对的产品这样的小事情。“你可以是一名销售,或收费员,但如果你把你的目标看成是帮人解决问题,那么每天都会有100个机会帮助他人改善生活,而且你的满足感会大幅提升,”施瓦茨说。
One of the more significant examples of how meaningfulness influences job satisfaction comes from a study published in 2001. Two researchers — Amy Wrzesniewski of Yale and Jane Dutton, now a distinguished emeritus professor at the University of Michigan — wanted to figure out why particular janitors at a large hospital were so much more enthusiastic than others. So they began conducting interviews and found that, by design and habit, some members of the janitorial staff saw their jobs not as just tidying up but as a form of healing. One woman, for instance, mopped rooms inside a brain-injury unit where many residents were comatose. The woman’s duties were basic: change bedpans, pick up trash. But she also sometimes took the initiative to swap around the pictures on the walls, because she believed a subtle stimulation change in the unconscious patients’ environment might speed their recovery. She talked to other convalescents about their lives. “I enjoy entertaining the patients,” she told the researchers. “That is not really part of my job description, but I like putting on a show for them.” She would dance around, tell jokes to families sitting vigil at bedsides, try to cheer up or distract everyone from the pain and uncertainty that otherwise surrounded them. In a 2003 study led by the researchers, another custodian described cleaning the same room two times in order to ease the mind of a stressed-out father.
表明意义如何影响工作满意度的一个更显著的例子,来自2001年发表的一项研究。两名研究人员——耶鲁大学的艾米·沃兹涅夫斯基(Amy Wrzesniewski)和如今为密歇根大学(University of Michigan)杰出荣休教授的珍·达顿(Jane Dutton)——想要弄明白为何一家大医院的某些保洁员比其他人更有干劲。于是她们开始进行访谈。她们发现,出于设计和习惯,保洁职工中的一些成员将他们的工作视为不仅是清洁,也是一种治疗的形式。例如,一位女保洁员要拖脑损伤病房的地板,那里很多住院病人都昏迷不醒。这位女性的职责很简单:换便盆、捡垃圾。但有时候她也会主动擦拭墙上的画,因为她相信,昏迷病人环境中一个微妙的刺激改变也可能帮他们加速恢复。她跟其他康复患者聊他们的生活。“我很喜欢让病人开心,”她告诉研究人员。“这其实并不属于我的岗位职责,但我喜欢为他们表演一番。”她会来回舞动,给在床边守夜的家人讲讲笑话,尽量让每个人振作起来,或让他们暂时忘掉平日笼罩在身上的疼痛与不确定感。在两位研究员所领导的一项2003年的研究中,另一名护工谈及把同一房间清洁两次,以便让一位压力过重的父亲能够放松心神。
To some, the moral might seem obvious: If you see your job as healing the sick, rather than just swabbing up messes, you’re likely to have a deeper sense of purpose whenever you grab the mop. But what’s remarkable is how few workplaces seem to have internalized this simple lesson. “There are so many jobs where people feel like what they do is relatively meaningless,” Wrzesniewski says. “Even for well-paid positions, or jobs where you assume workers feel a sense of meaning, people feel like what they’re doing doesn’t matter.” That’s certainly true for my miserable classmate earning $1.2 million a year. Even though, in theory, the investments he makes each day help fund pensions — and thus the lives of retirees — it’s pretty hard to see that altruism from his window office in a Manhattan skyscraper. “It’s just numbers on a screen to me,” he told me. “I’ve never met a retiree who enjoyed a vacation because of what I do. It’s so theoretical it hardly seems real.”
对一些人而言,其中的寓意似乎一目了然:如果你将你的工作视为治愈病患,而不仅是清扫杂物,那么任何时候你拿起拖把,都可能会有一种更深的目标感。但值得注意的是,将这一简单经验加以内化的工作场所似乎少之又少。“有太多的工作是那种人们感到他们所做的是相对无意义的,”沃兹涅夫斯基说。“即使是待遇优厚的职位,或者你以为员工会有一种意义感的工作,其实人们感到他们在做的根本不重要。”对于我那些一年挣120万美元却痛苦不堪的同学来说,无疑真是如此。尽管理论上,他每天所做的投资能帮助筹集养老资金——因而也能帮到退休者的生活——但这种利他性很难从他在曼哈顿摩天大楼的玻璃幕墙办公室看到。“那对我来说只是屏幕上的数字,“他告诉我说。“我从没见过一位退休者能因我所做的而享受假期。这太理论化了,看上去几乎不是真的。”
THERE IS A raging debate — on newspaper pages, inside Silicon Valley, among presidential hopefuls — as to what constitutes a “good job.” I’m an investigative business reporter, and so I have a strange perspective on this question. When I speak to employees at a company, it’s usually because something has gone wrong. My stock-in-trade are sources who feel their employers are acting unethically or ignoring sound advice. The workers who speak to me are willing to describe both the good and the bad in the places where they work, in the hope that we will all benefit from their insights.
如今在报纸上,在硅谷中,在那些有望参选总统的人里,展开了一场关于什么才是一份“好工作”的激烈辩论。我是一名商业调查记者,因此我对这个问题有着奇怪的视角。当我和公司雇员交谈时,通常都是因为哪里出了差错。干我这一行,依赖的是那些觉得雇主行为不道德或忽视合理建议的线人。和我交谈的员工愿意讲述他们工作的地方的好与坏,以期我们都能从他们的深刻见解中获益。
What’s interesting to me, though, is that these workers usually don’t come across as unhappy. When they agree to talk to a journalist — to share confidential documents or help readers understand how things went awry — it’s not because they hate their employers or are overwhelmingly disgruntled. They often seem to love their jobs and admire the companies they work for. They admire them enough, in fact, to want to help them improve. They are engaged and content. They believe what they are doing matters — both in coming to work every day and in blowing the whistle on problems they see.
而令我感兴趣的则是这些员工通常看起来并非不开心。当他们同意和记者交谈——分享机密文件或帮助读者理解事情如何出了差错——原因并非他们讨厌雇主或极其不满。他们通常似乎是热爱他们的工作,也欣赏他们所效力的公司。事实上,他们欣赏到了足以让他们想要帮其改进的程度。他们参与其中也乐在其中。他们相信他们所做的是重要的——无论是天天来上班,还是揭发他们所看到的问题。
Do these people have “good jobs”? Are they luckier or less fortunate than my $1.2 million friend, who couldn’t care less about his firm? Are Google employees who work 60 hours a week but who can eat many of their meals (or freeze their eggs) on the company’s dime more satisfied than a start-up founder in Des Moines who cleans the office herself but sees her dream become reality?
这些人做的是“好工作”吗?和我那位年薪120万美元却对公司漠不关心的朋友相比,他们是更幸运还是更不幸?谷歌那些每周工作60个小时但相当一部分餐食(或冷冻卵子)的支出由公司承担的员工,会比一个需要自己清扫办公室的德梅因初创公司创始人更满足吗?
As the airwaves heat up in anticipation of the 2020 election, Americans are likely to hear a lot of competing views about what a “good job” entails. Some will celebrate billionaires as examples of this nation’s greatness, while others will pillory them as evidence of an economy gone astray. Through all of that, it’s worth keeping in mind that the concept of a “good job” is inherently complicated, because ultimately it’s a conversation about what we value, whether individually or collectively. Even for Americans who live frighteningly close to the bone, like the janitors studied by Wrzesniewski and Dutton, a job is usually more than just a means to a paycheck. It’s a source of purpose and meaning, a place in the world.
随着媒体为2020年大选预热,关于什么是“好工作”,美国人可能会听到许多相互矛盾的观点。有些人会把亿万富翁当作美国伟大荣光的榜样来赞美,也有人会批评他们是美国经济误入歧途的证据。在所有这一切当中,要记住,“好工作”的概念本质上是复杂的,因为归根结底,这场对话关乎我们最重视什么,无论是从个人还是从集体角度。即使是对于沃兹涅夫斯基和达顿研究中的护工那样一贫如洗的美国人,工作也往往不仅仅是一种挣钱的手段。它是目的与意义的源泉,是一个人在世界上的立足之处。
There’s a possibility, when it comes to understanding good jobs, that we have it all wrong. When I was speaking to my H.B.S. classmates, one of them reminded me about some people at our reunion who seemed wholly unmiserable — who seemed, somewhat to their own surprise, to have wound up with jobs that were both financially and emotionally rewarding. I knew of one person who had become a prominent venture capitalist; another friend had started a retail empire that expanded to five states; yet another was selling goods all over the world. There were some who had become investors running their own funds.
在对“好工作”的理解上,我们有可能完全是错的。和哈佛商学院的同学们交流的时候,一个同学让我想起我同学会里的一些人,他们好像一点也不痛苦——让他们自己也有点惊讶的是,他们似乎终于找到了一份在经济和情感上都有回报的工作。我认识一个人,他成为著名的风险投资家;还有一个朋友建立了一个零售帝国,扩张到五个州;还有一个朋友在世界各地销售商品。有些人已经成为管理着自己的基金的投资者。
And many of them had something in common: They tended to be the also-rans of the class, the ones who failed to get the jobs they wanted when they graduated. They had been passed over by McKinsey & Company and Google, Goldman Sachs and Apple, the big venture-capital firms and prestigious investment houses. Instead, they were forced to scramble for work — and thus to grapple, earlier in their careers, with the trade-offs that life inevitably demands. These late bloomers seemed to have learned the lessons about workplace meaning preached by people like Barry Schwartz. It wasn’t that their workplaces were enlightened or (as far as I could tell) that H.B.S. had taught them anything special. Rather, they had learned from their own setbacks. And often they wound up richer, more powerful and more content than everyone else.
他们当中许多人都有一个共同点:当初他们往往是班里的失败者,毕业后没能得到自己想要的工作。他们完全被麦肯锡公司、谷歌、高盛和苹果,还有那些大风投公司和著名的投资公司无视了。这迫使他们努力去找工作,所以在职业生涯的早期,他们不得不努力权衡生活中必不可少的需要。这些大器晚成的人们似乎学到了巴里·施瓦茨等人所宣扬的职场意义。并不是因为他们的工作场所格外能给人带来启发,或者哈佛商学院教会了他们什么特别的东西(对此我有发言权)。相反,他们从挫折当中吸取了教训。最终他们往往会比其他人更富有、更强大、更满足。
That’s not to wish genuine hardship on any American worker, given that a setback for a poor or working-class person can lead to bankruptcy, hunger or worse. But for those who do find themselves miserable at work, it’s an important reminder that the smoothest life paths sometimes fail to teach us about what really brings us satisfaction day to day. A core goal of capitalism is evaluating and putting a price on risk. In our professional lives, we hedge against misfortune by taking out insurance policies in the form of fancy degrees, saving against rainy days by pursuing careers that promise stability. Nowadays, however, stability is increasingly scarce, and risk is harder to measure. Many of our insurance policies have turned out to be worth as much as Enron.
这不是在说我希望任何美国工人陷入真正的困境,因为穷人或工人阶级一旦遭遇挫折,很可能会导致破产、饥饿或更糟的事情。但对于那些感觉在工作中很痛苦的人来说,这是一个重要的提示:一帆风顺的人生道路有时并不能教会我们,什么才是每天都能带来真正满足感的东西。资本主义的一个核心目标是对风险进行评估和定价。在职业生涯中,我们以高学历作为投保,从而对冲遭遇不幸的风险;我们追求稳定的职业,以此未雨绸缪。然而,到了今天,稳定已经越来越稀缺,风险变得更难衡量。我们的许多保单最终被证明并不比安然公司更值钱。

什么才是一份“好工作”?.jpg

“I’m jealous of everyone who had the balls to do something that made them happy,” my $1.2 million friend told me. “It seemed like too big a risk for me to take when we were at school.” But as one of the also-rans myself — I applied to McKinsey, to private-equity firms and to a real estate conglomerate and was rejected by them all — I didn’t need any courage in making the decision to go into the modest-paying (by H.B.S. standards) field of journalism. Some of my classmates thought I was making a huge mistake by ignoring all the doors H.B.S. had opened for me in high finance and Silicon Valley. What they didn’t know was that those doors, in fact, had stayed shut — and that as a result, I was saved from the temptation of easy riches. I’ve been thankful ever since, grateful that my bad luck made it easier to choose a profession that I’ve loved. Finding meaning, whether as a banker or a janitor, is difficult work. Usually life, rather than a business-school classroom, is the place to learn howto do it.

“我很嫉妒那些有胆量去做让自己开心的事的人,”我那个年薪120万的朋友告诉我。“上学时,这样的风险对我来说似乎太大了。”但是作为失败者中的一员——我曾经申请过麦肯锡、几家私募公司和一家房地产集团,但都遭到了拒绝——决定进入薪酬最低的新闻领域(以哈佛商学院的标准而言)不需要我付出任何勇气。一些同学觉得我忽视了哈佛商学院为我在高级金融业和硅谷打开的大门,这是一个巨大的错误。他们不知道,那些门其实一直都是关着的——结果,我避免了受到轻松发财致富的诱惑。从那以后,我一直心存感激,感激这样的坏运气让我更轻松地选择了自己喜欢的职业。无论是银行家还是清洁工,寻找人生意义都是一项艰难的工作。这通常要在生活中去学习,而不是在商学院的课堂里。

重点单词   查看全部解释    
anguish ['æŋgwiʃ]

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n. 苦闷,痛苦
v. 使 ... 极苦闷,使

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critical ['kritikəl]

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adj. 批评的,决定性的,危险的,挑剔的
a

 
particular [pə'tikjulə]

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adj. 特殊的,特别的,特定的,挑剔的
n.

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benefit ['benifit]

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n. 利益,津贴,保险金,义卖,义演
vt.

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reminder [ri'maində]

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n. 提醒物,提示

 
retail ['ri:teil]

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n. 零售
vt. 零售,传述
ad

 
halcyon ['hælsiən]

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n. 想像中的一种鸟,形同翠鸟,翠鸟 adj. 宁静的,

 
underlying [.ʌndə'laiiŋ]

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adj. 在下面的,基本的,隐含的

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overwhelmingly [.əvə'welmiŋli]

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adv. 压倒性地,不可抵抗地

 
pillory ['piləri]

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n. 颈手枷,示众,嘲弄 vt. 套上枷锁,使遭人嘲笑

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