During an otherwise immensely enjoyable Thanksgiving holiday, the hang-over-the-ear earphones that I normally use with my iPod were borrowed and now are nowhere to be found. So, I am relegated to using the “earbuds” that come as standard equipment with the iPod — and thus I feel both frustration and shame.
I experience frustration, because the Apple ear buds simply will not stay in my ears. They may look cool and sleek, but with the slightest head movement or gentlest jostling, the earbuds will plop softly out of my ears. The only way I can keep them in on the morning walk is to put on a ski cap that tightly binds them to my ears and then walk with head held stiffly, like I’m wearing an invisible neck brace. It’s not a comfortable start to the day.
I feel shame, too, because I know that Apple makes only excellent, well-engineered devices. Steve Jobs himself must have given these earbuds a thumbs-up. Therefore, my inability to keep them in my ears must mean there is something defective about either the structure of my ears or my understanding of how to use the earbuds. Perhaps the little flap on the forward part of my exterior ear — called the tragus, for those who haven’t memorized Gray’s anatomy — is embarrassingly undersized. Maybe Steve Jobs’ ears had tragi the size of catcher’s mitts, ready to hold the earbuds snugly inside. Or perhaps I’m using the devices improperly. Maybe they go in upside down, or backwards — or maybe they aren’t intended for the ears at all, but were designed by Apple to be inserted into the nostrils and reach the inner ear through a more indirect route?
It’s time to help our retailers have a good holiday season and buy some new earphones.