Five-Oh, Two-Oh, One-Six, Oh-Oh

Another thrilling escape story from that “fuck you and your job” forum thread:

I stormed off upstairs, put on my jacket and strode out of there. [The supermarket check-out manager] spotted me walking out and appeared concerned, saying, “He’s leaving, he’s leaving.”

I received a call and voicemail from the admin staff, asking to come back because I hadn’t clocked out. I officially left the following day.

Funnily enough, I was in there last week and noticed most of the tills have been replaced by self-service checkouts; they possibly added few more since the penultimate time I was there (about a year ago). I think there originally were about twelve tills, now it’s four.

The tills were fucking tedious. Relentlessly scanning food along over and over for several hours was a nightmare. If an item wouldn’t scan through on more than one attempt, the alternative was to type in a 30-digit code as an impatient customer stared at me. This put enough pressure on me to mistype the fucker and start again.

I give this story a special mention to lend slight additional credence to my (rightly) disputed claim that supermarket checkout work is horrible and deserves be automated into oblivion.

The poster’s remark about having to manually type the illegible barcode numbers? I am no stranger to that. A notable occurrence of this embarrassing form of workplace torture involved the Cadbury[‘s] Creme Egg.

Unless something has changed in the fifteen or so years since I worked a cash register, the barcode of a Creme Egg cannot be scanned on account of the foil-wrap packaging being all crinkly and deformed, and the product itself being, well, egg-shaped.

The barcode number for a Cadbury’s Creme Egg is 50201600. I vividly remember this number (“Five-Oh, Two-Oh, One-Six, Oh-Oh”) from having to type it into the cash register manually some thousands of times. It is tattooed on my brain. It is a scar. I wonder if I could sue the company for an on-the-job injury?

Occasionally, when I’m in a shop, I pick up one of these sludge-filled ovoid sweetmeats and peek at the barcode, weirdly nostalgic to confirm that the number is still the same after all these years.

And blimey, look. I’m not alone!

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Robert Wringham is the editor of New Escapologist. He also writes books and articles. Read more at

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