Michael Gallagher

Michael Gallagher

The young people know what I’m talking about — wireless noise-canceling headphones, baby!

Of course the young people can’t hear what I’m talking about because of the before mentioned wireless noise-canceling headphones.

You know how it is when you don’t ask for anything for a major gift-giving day and you get something you never thought you needed and almost immediately after getting it wonder how you ever lived without it? Um, don’t feel bad if you took a wrong turn somewhere in that sentence. Anyway, I’m pretty sure that’s how my mother felt the year I gave her a crock pot for Christmas, at least that’s how I interpreted the grimace.

On my birthday this past week, my loving family presented me with a pair of Bose noise-canceling headphones. I’m not getting paid for an endorsement here, but wow, they are pretty nice.

My first impulse was to ask if they gave them to me because the boys wanted to borrow them, but I was assured they were mine for my personal use.

I’m don’t have musical talent, but I’ve always loved music. I am old enough that the advances in stereophonic sound were a revelation. One of my favorite memories was going with my mom to her bank, Seattle Savings and Trust (the most staid, conservative bank in Burien so obviously it no longer exists). In the bank lobby there was one of those oval chairs where the music was piped in around you. I would sit and spin in that chair while my mother spent 20 to 30 minutes conducting all her banking needs, something that can now be done in 60 to 90 seconds at a machine — the world is a far lesser place because of that.

But I never had headphones. Hipsters had headphones, if I remember correctly.

I don’t know if you’ve spent much time relating to America’s youth but most of them have no idea what you’re talking about because they’re ensconced in their own world, cut off from rudimentary communication techniques such as face-to-face conversation by ever-present wireless noise-canceling headphones synched to their appendage-like smart phone.

The one upside to this is you can yell all you want at your kids to get off their phones and they will not hear a word you say. You get the cathartic release of yelling without the guilt of “I just yelled at my kid” when their little eyes look at you full of hurt at your harshness.

Nope, none of that, their eyes have that permanent glazed look. You could probably play handball off that face and they wouldn’t blink.

They are really in their own world, and 10 seconds after slipping on the headphones, my first thought was, “I want to move there.”

Imagine, if you will, a world full a beautiful sounds, amazing voices singing songs of your youth or new tunes that suddenly becoming your favorites. It’s a portable paradise inside your head. You can be in it while brushing your teeth, taking out the trash or standing in line to buy a Slurpee at 7-Eleven. It goes wherever you go.

Of course, I don’t take them to work. I am in the communication business, so I need to be mentally present to communicate. But with each passing minute, that feels like one of those “lines in the sand.” I wonder who drew it? Likely some relic from a previous generation who has no idea how the world works today.

Really, what am I worried about — that one of my coworkers will fall in a well and I won’t be able to hear his or her cries for help?

And if wearing my glorious noise-canceling headphones at work becomes an issue, someone will say something to me … oh yeah … problem solved.

Contact managing editor Michael Gallagher at mgallagher@kvnews.com.


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