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Human Bar Code

Legacy Phuket Gazette



Human Bar Code | Thaiger

PHUKET CITY: After undergoing an emergency appendectomy, a patient at Bangkok Phuket Hospital found himself unable to enter Big-C Supercenter without setting off the magnetic anti-theft security devices. Confused, embarrassed and unable to fulfill his rightful role in the Phuket consumer economy, 44-year-old Prapet Tiranon returned to the hospital and asked physicians to X-ray him to see if they had perhaps left something inside him that could account for his transformation into a human bar code. But all the tests were negative and K. Prapet was sent home. Fearing further embarrassment, he steered clear of Big C. But when he joined the throng at the opening of Central Festival, he set off the security device there as well – again causing him a great deal of embarrassment. Desperate to solve the mystery, he took his story to the press. A meeting of doctors and store officers at Big C was arranged and, with all eyes upon him, he passed though the device – setting it off. The doctors were initially confused, for they had already passed a bag containing all of the same equipment used in K. Prapet’s surgery through the security check – without setting it off. What could account for it? Had K. Prapet really become a human bar code? Then someone had the bright idea of bringing K. Prapet inside Big C and running the bar code scanning device at the checkout counter over his person. When it reached his pocket it went off. “What’s in your pocket?” he was asked. “My wallet,” came his reply. It turned out that the scanner was being set off by a security bar code sticker that was stuck on the inside lining of his wallet. Once the offending sticker was removed, K. Prapet was able to walk straight through the device without setting it off. The mystery had been solved. K. Prapet was neither a human bar code nor the victim of medical malpractice. K. Prapet, owner of the Ban Pae Seafood Restaurant, slunk off without talking to the press, while physicians and other personnel from Bangkok Phuket cheered in celebration at having been cleared of suspicion of shoddy workmanship. As it turns out, what happened to K. Prapet could have happened to any island consumer. The magnetic strips are commonly hidden away in merchandise to prevent theft, either by shoplifters or store employees. They are commonly inserted at the factory and are meant to be deactivated by the scanning device at the time of purchase. When this doesn’t happen – or when the goods find their way into the black market – they can trigger alarms and cause the unsuspecting buyer a good deal of embarrassment – as K. Prapet learned.


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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

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