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The BYU Boom Box Guy

It was a silent Friday morning as walked down the concrete stairs, past the not ringing bell tower, lost in my own thoughts. Then, stopping at the curb to wait for the signal to keep walking in my dead silence, I heard music. Immediately, my mind flashed to when I could remember music while walking. I thought about those big boom boxes of the 80's and 90's. I reminisced as my eyes dashed around to discover the source of this music. My first thought was it must be coming from a car, but cars kept driving and the music felt like it was coming nearer to me. Then! I turned to the side of me and the music was standing next to me in all it's glory playing Friday, I'm in love by The Cure. I could not help myself from smiling; it put a song in my step.

On my way to another class a couple weeks later I was walking along feeling quite downtrodden, even unempowered of all atrocities, when I heard a song from the soundtrack for my life right now: What Doesn't Kill You (Stronger) by Kelly Clarkson. Within a moment I was able to see this amazing boom box carrier and the enchantment was complete. I promised myself I would ask this music giver for his permission to photograph and tell my story the very next time I encountered his inspirational intrusion into my quiet.

I didn't hear him (or see him) for a couple weeks. I watched and listened and hoped, but then I remembered how nothing ever comes that we are waiting for until we aren't waiting. So I decided to give up. The next day, there he was!

With permission given and mini-interview done, I found out that the music giver is named Ethan and he is quite a sport.  I don't know why I had even thought to be shy (for me) about talking to him. His friendliness was all one could expect from someone who unabashedly carries an antique of an electronic around on his shoulder, brazenly choosing the playlist for everyone he walks past.

Just so you know, Ethan, I adore it. The days of earbuds and thousands of songs streaming endlessly into one's ears is fabulous. But-- the days of hearing a song blaring through the air, sifting through all the other noise have something more to them for me. Those days were the days of my growing up, and your music helped me connect with the fact that these are the days of my growing up still and I have a song--from time to time--filling my ears and heart to remind me.


  1. I have a class with this guy, and hearing his gigantic boombox tunes has been a highlight this semester. Brings back so many memories. I just want him to suddenly start breakdancing on a piece of cardboard in the quad.

  2. Coming from the Penn State Boombox Guy, do me a favor and tell him he's holding it the wrong way.

    1. HaHa! I have to say, in his defense, I snappeed the photos during a deluge of people approaching him. But I will certainly tell him IF you tell me how to solve the 'problem' :)


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