(Last Updated On: February 3, 2020)

Proper AirPods etiquette wasn’t applied in this instance.

Unless you tell the person you're talking to that your earbuds are off, they can't tell the difference while you're wearing them (From: Ben Kolde, unsplash.com)
Unless you tell the person you’re talking to that your earbuds are off, they can’t tell the difference while you’re wearing them (From: Ben Kolde, unsplash.com)

With the rising popularity of true wireless earbuds, it’s becoming vital for society to come up with etiquette rules for the new-age gadget. Poor behavior around true wireless earbuds in particular isn’t new, but the cases are certainly becoming more prominent.

Some advice would’ve definitely helped a customer, whose order at a coffee shop was rejected by the barista because he was wearing a single AirPod. The man named Kevin shared his story with columnist The Salty Waitress, and it was published on The Takeout:

”Dear Salty, I was at the coffee shop counter, and the cashier wouldn’t take my order until I took off my AirPod! And it was only in one ear! Am I the asshole here?” asked Kevin.

The issue has since been picked up by other outlets and the debate has sparked anew. Is it rude to wear earbuds while talking to someone? Is it any better when only one earbud is being worn?

Following Earbuds Etiquette

The Salty Waitress naturally has her own opinion, which she elaborated in her recent column. She had this to say after giving Kevin the benefit of the doubt at first:

”THE CASHIER IS A HUMAN BEING! JUST LIKE YOU! Their role in your life may be temporary and functional, but they’ve got feelings and hopes and dreams and aspirations. And like you (probably) they would like your full and undivided attention while you ask them to perform a service for you.”

She added that this goes both ways and shouldn’t be limited to baristas. Whether you’re interacting with someone behind the cashier at the grocery store or even just an acquaintance, it wouldn’t hurt taking off the earbud for a minute.

”Not only is this kindness and good manners—and the world could really use a bit more of both of those, pumpkin, wouldn’t you agree?—it’s also a way to make sure that your order is conveyed accurately so that you get exactly the cup of coffee that you want. Which is really the main reason you should remove your earbud—sorry, AirPod.

She ends the rant with the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” What matters most is how you want others to treat you; take off your earbuds or headphones if you want others to pay attention to you too.

When in doubt, keep your AirPods in their charging case while ordering a drink (From: Ben Kolde, unsplash.com)
When in doubt, keep your AirPods in their charging case while ordering a drink (From: Ben Kolde, unsplash.com)

Spreading Awareness to Users Everywhere

Comments on The Salty Waitress’ article were divided. Some believed that Kevin deserved the barista’s full attention regardless of what he was wearing; others thought that wearing even a single AirPod instantly implied that his attention was somewhere else and he didn’t deserve proper service.

”I guess I’m in the minority here. As long as I have your attention when it is warranted, I couldn’t care less if there is something in your ear. Just because you have it in, doesn’t mean you have it on. If there is any indication that your attention is elsewhere (music, phone call), then you are the asshole,” wrote commenter smalleyxb122.
”Even if your airpod/earbud is turned off, it looks like you aren’t listening to the person you are interacting with. This isn’t Reddit, but yeah, YTA,” said Nom de pixel.

As mentioned earlier, this isn’t the first time proper earbuds etiquette is being debated over. Numerous articles have already covered the topic, providing their own takes. Whichever side you’re on, what matters most is both sides show respect to one another.