Fargo, ND—Those earbuds with the rubbery coating that come prepackaged with every iPhone or iPod. The ones that, once they get tangled, you suddenly need to manifest surgical precision and years of boy scout knot-knowledge to get them undone? Yeah, those. Those are the ones that took Scott Phillips down.
Phillips had an appointment to visit his personal trainer at the local fitness center. He was pressed for time. “I never run treadmill without my jogging playlist,” he said. Phillips went through his mental checklist of items. Gym bag, protein shake, iPhone. But when he finally reached into the coat pocket where he left his earbuds, his heart sank.
“The Earbud Gnomes were out to get me,” Phillips recalled. From inside his pocket he revealed what looked like a giant white hairball. He began pounding and cursing his way through the wretched maze of unforgiving synthetic wire.
“There were unseen forces at play there, i’m sure of it,” Phillips remembered. He had waged war on the earbuds many times before, but that day the Earbud Gnomes were playing for keeps. Scott knitted and weaved his way through the headphone labyrinth at a frenetic pace until he realized he’d gone too far: his left index finger was tied up, stuck and starting to turn blue.
Exasperated beyond belief and facing critical danger, Scott needed to act quickly. He ripped and pulled at the earbuds, but that only made it worse. He was left with no choice. He had to call 911.
When the fire department arrived, they reacted quickly in an effort to save his digit. The crew immediately called for the Jaws of Life to release Scott from the hand prison. The Jaws sliced away the messy entanglement and freed Scott’s hand just in time.
Scott calls the incident both harrowing and life-changing. “If you don’t have a few hours to sit down and meticulously pick your way through an iPhone earbud entanglement, don’t bother,” he said. “Throw them away and buy a new pair for $150 or whatever absurd price they make you pay. Trying to untangle them yourself is absolutely not worth the risk.”