Dan Schaumann

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There’s a little bit of the Devil in (almost) everything you buy

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January 16th, 2011 Posted 2:04 am

Before I get into the significance behind the title of this post, firstly I must explain an encounter I had with a customer at work about 18 months ago.

One of the joys of working in a customer contact environment is that you get to talk to some interesting, bizarre, and often downright crazy people. It’s a true eye-opener into how different people can be; one call might be from a pleasant old lady who tells you her life story, and the next caller might be a complete madman who yells and swears at you.

Probably the most perplexing, and to be quite honest, frightening, of all customers I’ve ever dealt with was a middle-aged woman I spoke to when I worked in London. She didn’t speak English very well, and she called with a complaint about an order that she’d just received. Our conversation went something like this:


Me: “Good afternoon, this is Daniel speaking, how can I…?” *gets cut off by woman shouting*

Lady: “YOU TOLD ME THERE WOULD NOT BE BARCODES! YOU MUST TELL DRIVER COME BACK AND TAKE DELIVERY, I CANNOT KEEP IT! I MUST HAVE REFUND! YOU TOLD ME THERE WOULD NOT BE BARCODES! I CANNOT HAVE THE BARCODES!”

Me: “I’m very sorry, but I don’t quite understand?”

Lady:THE BARCODES!!! I CANNOT HAVE THE BARCODES! NO NO NO THIS IS BAD, THIS IS BAD, THE BARCODES”

Me: *goes into crisis response mode* “Ok, ok, ok, please take a deep breath for me and let me know your account number so I can look further into what has happened”

Lady calms down slightly and gives account details. “THE BARCODES THE BARCODES” I can see that this is the first order she’s placed with us, which consisted of 6 or 7 various items, totalling around £30. “I MUST HAVE REFUND” For the purposes of explaining this I will refer to the lady as Mrs Smith. “THE BAAARRRCOOODEESSSSSSS!”

Me: “Mrs Smith, am I right in saying that you wish for a refund of your order because the items have barcodes on them?”

Mrs Smith: “YES BECAUSE YOU TOLD ME THAT THERE WOULD BE NO BARCODES!! BUT I GET YOUR DELIVERY AND THERE ARE BARCODES! YOU MUST GIVE ME REFUND, YOU MUST TAKE THE BARCODES AWAY!”

Me: “Can’t you just cut the barcodes off the packaging and throw them in the bin?”

Mrs Smith:NO!! I CANNOT TOUCH THE BARCODES, YOU MUST TELL YOUR DRIVER TO TAKE THE BARCODES AWAY”

At this point I place Mrs Smith on hold and discuss the situation with my supervisor, who is just as perplexed as I am. We both agree on a fair course of action, and I return to my phone, not looking forward to the remainder of our conversation.

Mrs Smith: “THE BARCODES. THE BARCODES!”

Me: “Mrs Smith, I’ve just spoken with my manager and what we are happy to do is request for our driver to return to your address and collect your delivery. However, as these items are perishable, and as it is standard procedure for any form of packaging to contain a barcode, I am afraid that we will not be able to offer you a…”

Mrs Smith: “NO NO NO I CANNOT BELIEVE THIS YOU DO NOT UNDERSTAND THE BARCODES YOU SAID THERE WOULD BE NO BARCODES WHY WILL YOU NOT GIVE ME REFUND  BECAUSE OF THE BARCODES TAKE THEM AWAY TAKE THEM AWAY THE BARCODES THE BARCODES THE BARCOOOOOODES*hangs up phone*

Me: “…refund.”


Woah.

It was an insane conversation, it really was. I felt so sorry for her; I mean, how can you possibly go through life with a phobia of barcodes? You’d pretty much be housebound and you’d have to get somebody else to do all your shopping for you. You’d drive yourself absolutely nuts.

So I did some research. I needed to find out how and why this poor lady came to possess such a fear. And wasn’t it interesting what I found!


There are plenty of websites out there that detail the reasons, and I’m sure some of you reading this will be aware already, but I’ll explain it briefly here by borrowing an image from an article by Dial The Truth Ministries:



This particular type of barcode is known as a UPC, or Universal Product Code, which is the standard for most grocery-related items. Basically, every digit that appears within a UPC barcode is represented by a combination of black and white bars. Digits from 0-9 that appear in the manufacturer code (left hand side) have one particular representation, and digits from 0-9 that appear in the product code (right hand side) have a different representation. There are also three guard bars that appear at the beginning, middle, and end of the barcode.

This next image, borrowed from an article at Hidden Bible, shows how the digits 0-9 are represented in the product code. Pay particular attention to how the digit 6 appears:



As you can see, the 6 is depicted by two thin black bars with a thin white bar in between. Now, if you go back to the first image and look at those three guard bars that I mentioned, you’ll notice that all three of them appear the same as the 6. These three guard bars appear in every UPC barcode, which effectively means that every item you purchase containing a UPC has the number 666 coded in black & white on the packaging. And we all know that 666 = The devil’s number!

Now, it must be pointed out that technically, the guard bars aren’t exactly the same as the representation for number 6 (you can read about this in further detail at Dial The Truth Ministries). But the fact is, to the human eye, they appear the same as the 6.

So you can understand now why particularly religious people may possess a fear of barcodes.


Give it a go yourself! Check out some everyday objects lying around the house and you can witness this in action:



A loaf of bread: THE DEVIL




A bottle of milk: THE DEVIL




A jar of mixed herbs - THE DEVIL




A T-shirt: THE DEVIL




Guitar strings: not a UPC barcode so it's spared from the Devil's curse!




Liquid hand soap: THE DEVIL




A box of candles: THE DEVIL




Matches that I lit the candles with: THE DEVIL




Bottle of Coke: THE DEVIL




Bottle of Whiskey: THE DEVIL




A ticket to see The Eagles: not a UPC barcode so it's spared from the Devil's curse!




Nemo: THE DEVIL




iPhone: THE DEVIL




The rear insert of my own EP from 2007, Comfort Zone: THE DEVIL




A postcard of a Tasmanian Devil: THE DEVIL



You get the idea!


Anyway, I hadn’t thought much of the barcode thing for a while – until recently, when I was struck with a very ironic and almost morbid thought:

Does the barcode on The Bible contain the number of The Devil?

So I headed on down to the local bookstore to find out.



Yes it does.



*         *         *

 

It does make me wonder, is all of this purely coincidental, or is it some kind of cruel joke that the inventors of the UPC barcode came up with way back in the early 70’s? If you do some reading up on the subject, you’ll find the inventor, George J. Laurer reckons it’s a coincidence. A pretty bloody funny one, if you ask me.

Now, I am completely accepting of all religions, but I’m not a religious person myself so I can see this whole barcode thing from a light-hearted and humorous perspective, as I suspect most people would do. But what I’d like to know is – are you religious, and if so, does it shock or offend you in any way to know that there’s a little bit of the Devil in (almost) everything you buy?

Feel free to leave a comment and share any thoughts you may have!

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This entry was posted on Sunday, January 16th, 2011 at 2:04 am and is filed under Blog, Weird. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

13 Responses to “There’s a little bit of the Devil in (almost) everything you buy”

  1. Vincent Bals
    7:31 pm on January 16th, 2011

    Hey man, first of all great post! I really enjoyed reading it… I especially like the fact that you went to the library to check out the Bible’s barcode :P.

    Anyway, I do believe that some people who are really superstitious might be able to create some sort of fear against barcodes. I had never heard of this before. But I certainly gonna give it a thought!

    Thanks for sharing Dan,

    Vincent

  2. Barbara Tam
    8:06 pm on January 16th, 2011

    Dan,
    I know it’s got nothing to do with barcodes, but to this day Peter (Kate’s husband) will NOT ring us on our home phone because of the 666 numbers in it.
    Weird or what?
    Interesting read by the way.

  3. Dan Schaumann
    9:37 pm on January 16th, 2011

    Awesome Vince, glad you enjoyed reading it! Yeah, there are some very superstitious people out there, I wouldn’t be surprised if there are more people than we think who are fearful of barcodes. You won’t look at them the same ever again :)

  4. James C
    9:37 pm on January 16th, 2011

    I had a pack of Devilled Sausage mix. Guess what…..? THE DEVIL!

  5. Dan Schaumann
    9:41 pm on January 16th, 2011

    Wow, I didn’t know that, how interesting? It never occurred to me that the 666 in your phone number would be cause for distress. You’d better not show him this blog then – he might never wish to speak to me again!

  6. Dan Schaumann
    10:25 pm on January 16th, 2011

    That’s fantastic! Next time I’m in the supermarket I’m going to check the Angel Hair pasta

  7. Andrea-Ioana
    11:42 pm on January 16th, 2011

    Hi, Dan…
    So, here is my religious point of view.
    This barcode theory is not new to me.
    My best friend told me about it.
    And back then I already thought it was bullshit.
    Although it’s funny, you know. There are a lot of things to discuss.
    On the one hand it is just a coincidence but the Bible talks a lot about that number, you know. And God says that the number will appear in our life’s etc… so, even if it is just a coincidence for men, it is not a coincidence for God.
    This being said, I think that Christians should not be worried or frightened about barcodes. They should not fear the Devil either. I for myself don’t because Christ is stronger and whoever believes in Christ is strong himself. So it would be me + God against Satan. It’s two against one.
    I feel sorry for that woman, it certainly is hard for her to live with that fear, but to be honest I would not say that she is a very religious person, but that she is kinda very superstitious.
    Being superstitious about religious things does not make you a religious person, haha :D

    PS- your blog entry is pretty awesome. congrats on all the research and the pictures. the story with the code on the Bible is pretty funny.

  8. Dan Schaumann
    10:40 pm on January 17th, 2011

    Thanks heaps for your input Andrea, it’s great to hear what you think, as a Christian. I’m glad you don’t possess the fear of the Devil that you hear about so many other people having; I just can’t understand how anyone can believe that hate is stronger than love. You make a very good point about superstitiousness vs. religiousness as well, I totally agree with that. Glad you enjoyed the blog :)

  9. Sookie
    4:52 am on May 10th, 2011

    I just had to say that I had first hand experience of a barcode phobia when I was 19.It was very distressing as I had to rip and destroy the barcodes on everything I used or ate.Just crossing them out wouldn’t work.I beleived that the food with barcodes was contaminated with human blood and if I used anything like a barcoded pen for example -I was condemned to hell.I was brought up as a Catholic and the religious aspect of it is something you are definetely right about.It also has something to do with OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder).I recovered eventually and I do see the humourous aspect of it now.After all Jesus said:’It’s not what you put into your mouth;it’s what comes out of it.

  10. Dan Schaumann
    7:59 pm on May 10th, 2011

    Hello and thanks for your comment, it’s fascinating to hear from someone who knows what it’s like first-hand! I imagined that psychology would play a big part in it, on top of the religious aspect. It sounds like a horrible phobia and I couldn’t comprehend the life that the woman I spoke to on the phone would have led, knowing she couldn’t be within eyesight of a barcode. I’m glad you recovered in the end :)

  11. Erandon
    4:20 am on November 18th, 2011

    Hi Dan;

    Great piece of work !
    Your bar code research is impressive and accurate. Also, the explanation and presentations were anything but dull as the code subject matter can be. You have presented a well rounded view based on fact and even some Bible eschatology.

    I’m considering putting together a you tube video in an attempt to refute some of the “insistent” people who are continually making claims of the UPC/number of the beast authenticity.

    I would like to borrow some of your information and perhaps an image or two, if I do go ahead with this video.

    Any info and images used, will give full credit to the original author (you) and provide a link to this blog.

    I’ll await your response.
    Either way,
    Well done and thank you.

    Erandon

  12. Dan Schaumann
    8:49 pm on November 22nd, 2011

    Hi Erandon, I’ve just subscribed & send you a message through Youtube actually. Thanks for your kind words and I look forward to seeing your video!

  13. Erandon
    12:13 am on December 22nd, 2011

    Hi Dan;

    I did finally get a video completed explaining how UPC codes work in an attempt to dismiss the “666” connotation as really just another wishful thinking conspiracy ploy to try to get a square peg to fit in a round whole.

    Anyway Dan, thanks for your help and inspiration on “tipping the bolder” down the hill for me. It took a little while to get the message short and informative, without becoming an encyclopedia.
    http://youtu.be/gUvdknVO73Y

    I ended up directing the whole piece at William Tapley, a famous You Tube prophet who supports the UPC/666 idea. He is becoming famous or maybe I should say…infamous with his Denver Airport-Phallic symbol controversy.

    Best to ya,

    Erandon

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