How to Annoy 100 Train Commuters with Your iPhone

by Barrett

If you think you’re always in your own private bubble while streaming TV shows on the morning train, you might be in for a rude awakening when you invoke a commuter uprising… against you.

If you think you’re always in your own private bubble while streaming TV shows on the morning train, you might be in for a rude awakening when you invoke a commuter uprising… against you.

Warning: Never stream “The Blacklist” on Netflix while riding the train during your morning commute… Not without first checking in with Apple.

Let me explain my cautionary tale…

A few weeks back, I was doing exactly that on my Metro North train ride to New York City. Remember, I’m a Road Warrior, at least I pretend to be while riding the train.

So I had my trusty iPhone 6 Plus tuned into season 2 of “The Blacklist.”
My Apple EarPods were firmly in place…

If you’re a fan of the James Spader TV spy series, you know it’s a pretty noisy show. Lots of loud explosions as our heroes try to capture the bad guy…

Major Audio Malfunction
In the middle of watching a tussle with the evil Luther Braxton, played by the great Ron Perlman, my seatmate tapped me on my shoulder. I paused the stream, extracted my left Apple EarPod, and turned to face this stranger.

“I can hear your show.”


“Your TV show is playing too loud.”

I looked down at my iPhone.

“How is that possible? I’m wearing earphones.”

“I can still hear it.” It’s really loud.”

I paused in ongoing disbelief.

Then, the commuter on the other side of my offended seatmate leaned forward and joined the conversation.

“Yes, I think the entire car can hear it. It’s blaring! Everyone can hear it. Really!!”

She nodded.

He nodded.

I began to nod… in disbelief.
I had become ‘that guy.’ How embarrassing…

So of course I apologized and promised to lower the audio level, which I did. But several times during the rest of my commute, I pulled out one or both of the EarPods to listen for any escaping audio.

I heard nothing. My earphones weren’t projecting anything, contrary to crowd consensus.

Confused as to where the leak was coming from, I cranked the level back to ‘eleven.’


Hmmm… Then I realized for the sound level to be that offensive, the EarPods couldn’t possibly have been the culprit. Somehow, the iPhone’s onboard speaker must have been activated.

Then, it hit me… ‘Lint-gate!’

Pocket Lint is Evil
A few weeks back, I realized the exposed holes in the bottom my iPhone were slowly being filled up by pocket lint through normal wear and tear.

The tell was I couldn’t get a secure lightning connection to charge my iPhone anymore. That’s when I realized I had the lint problem. So I took matters into my own hands, grabbed a pin and started scooping out pocket lint from both the lightning port and the earphone jack.

Problem solved…. Or so I thought.

I assume you know the phrase, “Don’t try this at home.”

Clearly, I hadn’t extracted enough of the lint from the audio jack and the 3.5mm plug was being blocked from making a secure fit. And as a result, the iPhone’s speaker took over… even though my earphones were still operating.

While that scenario suggested the possibility of a technical glitch I couldn’t confirm, I figured where there’s smoke, there’s usually fire.

Then I remembered a friend had mentioned after reading my original pocket lint post that the same problem had happened to him. His solution was to take his iPhone to the Apple Store. The Genius he spoke with used a tiny ‘vacuum-cleaner-like’ tool to do the fix.


iPhone to Surgery… Stat!
So when my train arrived at Grand Central Terminal, I hoofed it to the Apple Store, which was conveniently located only a few steps away from Track 18.

I checked in… told my sad tale of how “The Blacklist” had disrupted an entire train car filled with annoyed commuters… and I was quickly scheduled to see an Apple Genius.

When my Genius arrived, I repeated my story, handed over my iPhone, and then she rushed it away to the back room.

Five minutes later, she reappeared and confirmed that my iPhone had still been clogged with plenty of pocket lint.

But no more.

She handed back my iPhone with a big smile.
(No charge)

I asked if there was a better way to take care of this nuisance at home. She suggested using a paper clip instead of a pin, because the larger circumference of the point could grab more lint.

But really… I knew my solution moving forward.

Cleared for Duty
Can you think of any personal tech you regularly rely on more than your smartphone?


I say everyone should schedule an annual ‘De-linting’ iPhone Check Up with the Apple Store.

Your fellow train commuters will thank you, and you won’t end up on anyone’s Blacklist!