Stephen Coyle

Changing Pocketscapes

Since my early teens I've had a pretty thought-out idea of what deserves a spot in my pockets each day. The earliest distinct set of contents I remember, coinciding with my beginning secondary school and generally needing to have money on me, was simple:

Right pocket: phone.
Left pocket: keys and wallet.

The first major disruptor of this was the iPod. It was a must-carry device and, if you can believe such a thing, far more important to me than my phone. Thus, it and its earbuds naturally got a pocket to themselves. My candybar phone and its monochrome, low-resolution screen neither needed nor deserved such treatment. This is the last change, until very recently, that actually increased the total number of things I carry:

Right pocket: iPod.
Left pocket: phone, keys and wallet.

This ordering was fairly resilient. It lasted through my all my classic iPods, and into the iPod Touch era. Even when I made the leap to smartphones, they lagged so far behind my iPods in their preciousness that the pocket situation didn't change. Things were only disrupted with the arrival of my iPhone 3G, usurping both the iPod and the phone and greatly simplifying things:

Right pocket: iPhone.
Left pocket: keys, earbuds and wallet.

Obviously the idea of the bare metal of the earbuds' headphone connector in contact with the pristine iPhone screen was unconscionable. So the earbuds got demoted. And this state has been so far the longest-lasting of them all. The arrival of AirPods reduced the clutter in my left pocket, and blissfully eliminated the earphone tangle, but didn't affect which item went where. The ubiquity of Apple Pay has also meant I've occasionally abandoned the wallet entirely. But there's been one addition very recently, that I didn't expect:

Right pocket: iPhone.
Left pocket: keys, AirPods and wallet.
Left-back pocket: face mask.