Nothing gets a parent’s heart beating faster than a call suggesting your kid is in trouble — literally in trouble, or “hurt” in trouble and needs your help. When the kids are younger, it seems to happen much more frequently. Hearing the stories from some of my co-workers with very young children about the sickness in the daycare, the fall at home, or the brutal cough brings back memories from days gone by.
With a 22 year old and an 18 year old, and being an empty nester, the kids are adults and “grown-ups” and have access to their own medical outlets. Our daughter is at college and they have a good health clinic set up there for her, and after living abroad last semester, she’s pretty good at navigating the system. Our son is out of college, working at his first job, and living at his first apartment, so he’s clearly “on his own.”
Until the call.
Last night I got the phone call at work from my son saying “I have an earbud from my iPhone stuck in my ear and I can’t get it out. It’s freaking me out a bit. I called Mom and she said I should call you and have you bring me home for her to look at it.”
Ok, Dad, take a deep breath. If it was really an emergency, he would have gone, or been taken to the hospital, since he lives right in the middle of the Boston medical community. Right? Wouldn’t he? And while I can clearly pick him up and take him “home to Mom” because Mom’s pretty good at stuff like this, I had to remind myself that my awesome wife runs a cat shelter — wait, is she going to use those “instruments” used to pick and probe cats and kittens on our son? In his ear?
Whoa, this is weird.
So I hopped in the car, drove to pick my son up, and tried incredibly hard to be the calm one. He got in the car, admitted he was freaked out, and told me what happened. Apparently going through the self-checkout line at the market can be dangerous — as you’re swiping the barcodes of the products, those cords from the headphones can get tangled on stuff and pull. And if your headphones have been loose because this has happened before (oh wait, I’ll come back to that), it makes them more susceptible to happen again. And pow, the cords get tangled, they pull out, but the plastic earbud remains.
So what does any smart individual with two degrees from a leading college do? Well of course you try to pull the earbud out with your finger. When you can’t get it, you do what you did the last time this happened (see above teaser), which is to re-insert the headphone piece and push, trying to re-couple the headphone with the earbud. No seriously, this is what “worked” the last time.
Guess what — it didn’t work, and only pushed it in further.
With warning bells going off, our fearless main character finishes up at the store and heads home, understandably freaking out a bit. Luckily, his two roommates are home, and they offer to help. Three 21 or 22 year-olds probably don’t have the right equipment for this, but with a flashlight and a set of pliers, apparently anything can get fixed. A little alcohol wipe on the pliers (I guess this counts as sterilization) and we’re ready for action. One of the roommates decides to exit because he got queasy, leaving the other roommate to perform the extraction. Two problems — first, the pliers are pretty bulky. Second, the pliers also have a place for snipping wire, a benefit of the tool that was overlooked. That means that as the plier “tines” (or whatever they are called) are opened up, the wire cutter bears down — and clearly had its eyes set on that little piece of skin at the top of the earlobe. So there’s our boy, trying to be calm, with a roommate holding a steel weapon around his ear (and thinking that it’s a new roommate and he doesn’t even really know the guy), realizing that his ear is now bleeding from the wound as the earlobe did a horrible impression of a wire.
Cut to Plan B. “Mom, I have a problem. I have an earbud deep in my ear and we can’t get it out.” My sympathetic wife laughed, said “call your father and see if he can bring you home”, and then added “I thought we were done extracting items from different bodily openings when you were 5, but I guess not.”
Fast forward. We arrive home, Dad holds the flashlight (yeah, I admit, a bit queasily), and Mom unveils these killer surgical tweezers that she got from the vet. Like, seriously cool tweezers. Out came the earbud in about 10 seconds, and our boy avoided what would have happened next — the trip to the ER or Urgent Care, long lines, long waits, and long stares.
Then the parental words of advice began. “Throw out those stupid things.” “Wait, you really tried to use pliers?” “Please promise you won’t try to remove stuff with household equipment again.” “Perhaps an email to the company that makes the headphones is warranted, since you paid a bunch of money for them, they’re 2 months old, and it’s happened twice already?”
It’s a happy ending. All was good– Mom and Dad got an unexpected visit from our son, he got a home-cooked meal (and a drive home with some more stuff purchased by Mom for the new apartment), and we had a good story to share.
And yes, I got permission to write this post. Who knew that earbuds were such killers on the loose. Stay safe, people.
I'm Glenn Engler, the CEO of Digital Influence Group, a full-service digital agency with social at its core. Husband, father, sports junkie.
- Glennengler: Just because---30 Overused Buzzwords in Digital Marketing http://t.co/vLoJ6mnLkM via @zite 13 hours ago
- Glennengler: Think flip-flops are ok for work? Think again. Interesting, via @thestreet http://t.co/5VbKnJdl2y #culture #dresscode 2013/05/23
- Glennengler: Twitter is forcing brands to get brief, even if they're uncomfortable. Via @digiday @bmorrissey #snackablecontent http://t.co/XTLn9DSCJl 2013/05/23
- Glennengler: 80 years old, 4 heart surgeries, scaled Mt. Everest. You? http://t.co/4RNGSHQ46Y #imafailure 2013/05/23