I love music. It’s my drug of choice. That and sugar and I’m pretty much in kite status. So when I finally got a radio phone, I was way above Cloud 69. For days I walked around smiling to myself and dancing on the streets as I sang along. Sheer bliss.

The euphoria didn’t last very long, and I soon got used to having music in my ears. I still get excited when my favourite song plays, and I almost gave some guy a heart attack when I came out of the UoN tunnel singing Woohoo. Priceless. Simply priceless.

[Apparently, it’s actually called Song 2 and is a parody on American grunge. Who knew?]

Anyway, my radio phone earphones are pretty basic, and they started to fall apart quite quickly. I need to ask the DR brothers where they got the sweet pairs that I’ve seen them with. But meanwhile, I walked into a few phone shops to find a replacement.

The guy at the first shop said he was out of stock, and the lady at the second shop referred me to  a third shop. This lady asked me what my price range was, saying she had a pair for 300 …?

[The way she said it implied a question mark, so I responded, ‘300 … and …?’]

She went into a nearby stall and took down two pairs. One pair looked generic, but was beautiful and shiny. The second pair was in a plastic packaging … and I should have read the signs when she ripped the plastic and unpacked it. In my head, I could almost hear Lane’s mother screeching, ‘You break, you buy!”

The unpacked earphones were the new-looking type that have these suction-cup-looking devices. They fit right into your ear, taking the music to the source. They were hot! She tested them for me by plugging them into my phone, changing the station to something with […benga…?] and handing me the earphones. They sounded a little ech0-ey, but I figured it’s because the stall was in the corner of some building and there was a lot of noise outside.

The difference between the basic pair and the pretty pair was just 50 bob, so I bought the pretty pair and left smiling. But once I got outside, I noticed something very strange. You know that effect when someone is talking into a microphone and they suddenly turn their head, so that their voice sounds diluted?

Yes. That’s what my earphones were doing.

If I turned to look at someone, the song would be suddenly louder. If I tripped on a kerb, the tweeters would spike and my rock song would suddenly convert into ‘pss-pss-pss-pss’. When I stopped walking in shock, the tweeters would disappear and all I’d hear was base. Sometimes the instrumentals would die completely and I’d just hear the lyrics is some kind of twisted reverse karaoke.

The annoying part about this is it’s inconsistent. I was riding in a Citi Hoppa, and every turn, bump, or break would create a different result! Aaargh!

Now comes the amusing part. I took out the wiring to examine it, and noticed a shiny silver button at the base of the earphone jack. Apparently, when you press the button, the sound becomes bellisimo. When you stop pressing it, you get the echo sound. So the fluctuations in sound quality occur when the shiny button is accidentally[de]activated. The only way to get good sound is to keep your finger on the button. Or use a really strong rubber band. Or masking tape.

Now here’s the thing. I’m not mad that I bought fake earphones, because everyone that sees them goess all ooh and aaah before I demonstrate. And even if someone had warned me, it’s one of those things that you have to test to believe.

What bugs me is all the vendors that are pressing the shiny button while ‘testing’ just to make a sale. It reminds me of the stash of fake cash on my windowsill. I have a hundred bob note with the corner ripped out, a fifty bob that’s tattered and ripped in two, and a ten bob coin with the middle missing. I didn’t get them from makangas – I actually got them as change from three different supermarkets, all wrapped up in a receipt.

I’ve thought about paying them in a mat and insisting on a 1000 bob note if they refuse, but then I imagine some mean makanga forcing the same note onto some unsuspecting passenger, or worse, insulting them when they won’t accept. I watched one woman in a bus being called names for about 10 minutes because she wouldn’t accept a tattered note for change. male passengers joined in the abuse and it turned into ‘Wanawake was siku hizi wana madharau’ as the men called the woman arrogant and claimed she didn’t know the value of hard work or money. Sigh.

So rather than subject an innocent person to a really bad day, I keep the broken money on my windowsill. It’s a reminder to stay human. Not many people acknowledge such reminders.

So as I look for some duct tape to plug my brand new earphones, I keep thinking of where I will hide it so I can keep the cool factor – because they really are pretty earphones.

Speaking of duct tape versus masking tape, I had to sit a test today to qualify for a writing job. It was a 40 question multiple choice exam on the differences between British and American English. I always thought it was basic things like lift vs elevator, ground floor vs first floor and colour vs colour. Apparently, there’s a whole lot more involved. Like, for example, the British say dicTAte while Americans say DICtate. Who knew? And there’s the whole Dear sir [comma] vs Dear Sir [colon] thing.

I scored 80% – mostly through guesswork and inky-pinky-ponkey – so I got the job. But that was one super stressful 40 minutes!

In other news, did you know you can get a bugging device that looks like an extension cable? It comes with a sim card in it, and when you dial the sim card, instead of ringing, it transmits all the voices and sounds around the bug. I s**t you not. Scary, yes?

And finally, congratulations to My Love on getting his first novel published.

I am SO proud of you Sailor. You rock!!

♫ Song 2 ♫ Blur ♫

441 thoughts on “Mysterious headphones

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