Walk into any airport and you will be surprised with the number of people wearing headphones. That number seems to have increased in recent years. Perhaps airports are getting increasingly noisier and crowded and as humans, we want to carve out a chunk of personal space and demonstrate some control over the environment around us. Headphones help us do that. If mobile phones brought the internet on the move, headphones brought the ability to enjoy that world — privately.
(Image Courtesy New York Times)
Headphones are available in a wide variety, from simple wired earphones to earbuds to bone conduction devices worn on the neck like some electronic jewellery. Headphones (and earphones) are style statements, the choices we make, the brands we buy say something about us. It lends itself to creating an amusing taxonomy of people, basis headphones they use. Think of it as the Myers Briggs Type Indicator test, only this classification — basis the kind of headphones used — is as authentic as stories on The Week That Wasn’t.
The DJ Walle Babu Type
You probably guessed who these people are. They play their music or a Mirzapur episode off of their phones without plugging in a headphone. And yes, they will continue doing it through a three-hour flight to Madras. If you request them to use headphones, they will simply give you a Kaleen Bhaiya look and continue staring into the phone, leaving you with no option but move to the nearest vacant seat on the flight. Serves you right, after all, you are that nutter who did not buy noise-cancelling headphones made to keep you from having to hear such gits.
The White Apple Earbuds Type
Many moons ago, wearing the standard white Apple earbuds meant that you owned an iPhone and the iconic imagery created by the brand meant you were cool. Not anymore. Wearing these at the airport in 2019 simply means you are visiting us from the early 2000s. Happy journey.
The One-Black-Coffee-Please Type
To newbies, the sight of someone muttering and smiling by himself may seem quite disconcerting. Look closer, it is simply someone wearing AirPods and talking on the phone. It may remind you of the 90s’ classic — ‘One black coffee please’ ad for Ericsson. Wearing AirPods means you are rolling in it or have a moon crater sized hole in your credit card. If you see someone scanning the airport floor or digging their hands under seat cushions on the flight, he’s simply searching for his lost AirPods. And yes, if I hear you snigger that AirPods don’t need charging as you always need to buy a new one to replace the ones you lose. I’ll simply call it a case of sour grapes.
The Road Warrior Type
Think Up In The Air and Ryan Bingham. Road Warriors are people who fly multiple times each week. You will never catch sight of them at boarding gates, because unlike us plebeians, the Road Warriors make it to the airplane just in time for the flight or wait comfortably in an airline lounge in case of delays. If you do manage to see them, they probably use a top-of-the-line active noise cancellation headphone like a $400 Bose. The Road Warrior savors the three hours of flight time disconnected from the world, catching up on a Netflix show or quite simply, some much needed sleep.
The Wannabe Road Warrior Type
The wannabes are easy to spot. They usually wear fancy over-the-ear headphones; speak loudly into the microphone so anyone within a earshot knows how important or busy they are. You will find them seated at the airport workstation, laptop plugged in, typing feverishly, shouting a volley of instructions to some minion seated miles away. They are the ones who continue speaking as the air hostess makes the safety announcement on the flight. And the ones who roll their eyes and continue talking when the steward asks them to disconnect their call as the plane takes off. These people get their jollies from hearing multiple message pings from their phone the moment the planes lands. They are the first to open the overhead compartment for their bags as the plane taxies to the disembarkation gate and don’t hear the air hostess’s instructions to remain seated because they are on some darned phone call, again.
The High Rated Gabru Type
These are people who wear headphones as inconspicuous as your 80s’ smuggler wearing a silk shirt and gold chain. As they sway to Diamond, Prada and Laembadgini (this is no typo), feel free to look these hits up on YouTube.
The I-Don’t-Cares Type
Wearing a generic, randomly colored wire-earphones simply means you don’t care. Think of it as showing the middle finger to people making judgements basis what earphones you use. To the I-don’t-cares, earphones simply exist to serve a simple purpose, that is, to plug into a mobile phone or laptop as required. To them conversations about sound quality or noise-cancelation or stereophonic sound is all bunk. They scoff at people who think they are cheapskates and are chuffed joking about people who buy AirPods or better still, the barmy ones spending $400 for a headphone.
Now, if you thought that this article with its half-clever taxonomy of people is hogwash, you probably are an I-Don’t-Care. Hence, Q.E.D.
Also published in afaqs here