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There are many options for the headgear you might use when trying to block out the inane conversations fellow train passengers have, even on the quiet car.

I don’t know why he went to Susan instead of you. You’re probably lucky he didn’t just report you to HR. Stop talking!!!

Of late, the bright white and red “beats” brand headphones are in vogue with the commuter class.

As a style statement, they are fairly innocuous—simple colors with a logo that I would bet a large audience doesn’t know is associated with a hip-hop giant. (And, if they do know that much, they probably think it’s Jay-Z)

Wireless Bluetooth. Noise cancellation. If a guy sports a cell phone holster like a seasoned IT pro, then he’s definitely going to rock the latest headgear tech.

I have a nice pair of in-ear Bose that my wife got me when I was riding the Southwest bus route in the sky between Burbank and Sacramento, but lately I’ve found myself grabbing the tangled mass that I can identify quickly in the bottom of a dark bag.

This makes me indistinguishable from most of the masses on mass transit who sport the same set of tattered white tendrils that were supplied by Apple when we got our devices.

Oh, we might imagine ourselves as the heros of iPod ads of yore with silhouetted superstars dancing against brightly colored tapestries, but at this point, we are just bland consumers of the most ubiquitous product on the planet.


All of which is a long way of saying, my earbuds go in before I get to the platform, I ignore everybody, and they don’t come off until absolutely necessary, usually when a co-worker waves at me when I drop my bag at my desk.

I have realized that this means nobody who sits near me has any idea of the headspace I’m leaving when they approach me with these morning salutations.

In my mind, I’ve been debating Thomas Jefferson with Lin Manuel Miranda, or reliving heartbreak with Big Head Todd, or maybe just envisioning the small stairwell I crammed into the first time I saw Fifth Wheel play at the Pigpen back in Lawrence, Kansas.

The girl who wants to know what I did this weekend is coming out of a conversation with three other people about what they did this weekend, so she doesn’t understand why I’m not ready to just dive into niceties when I was in a place so far away.

So, of course, I come off as kind of a dunderheaded malcontent when I stammer out something like, “Huh, yeah, it was hot. I need coffee.”

I understand why developers and designers wear their headphones nonstop anymore. They have made a conscious decision to never leave their headspace.

My job requires a little more vocal communication with other humans, though, so I will continue to use my morning ritual of watching hot water drip through generic “Seattle-roasted” sludge in order to prep for the monotonous drone that is idle morning chit-chat.

Do they make caffeinated headphones?

Photo credit: Fey Ilyas via Foter.com / CC BY-SA

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