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“And, all of a sudden, boy, did that IPod get shut off,” says Miss Post, who stresses that “a little social shame can go a long way.”

Like the cell phone, the IPod and other music players can foster a sense of apathy when the user is among strangers. It’s easier to blow off social norms — and channel Justin Timberlake during rush hour — when you don’t know whom you’re irritating.

“Sometimes people can feel a little anonymous in public,” Miss Post says. “Like, ‘Oh. You know what? I didn’t hear you. I didn’t make eye contact with you. I can just ignore you and pretend like I’m not a bad person for doing this.’ ”

Of course, many IPod noise polluters should be given the benefit of the doubt. They might be unaware that the volume is up so high. Or they may be hard of hearing (probably because they listen to such loud music).

If the noise is bothersome, Miss Post says it’s OK to speak up because most people would be hard pressed not to listen. If they don’t, just “grin and bear it and let it go and just be the bigger person,” she advises.

Or get an IPod of your own.

“I got to the point where I’m like, ‘You know what? You really can’t beat it,’ ” says Aimee Wendt, a 27-year-old Web designer from Madison, Wis. “If you look around, there are so many people with IPods — you might as well join ‘em.”

Mr. Legeret, the man stuck listening to techno on the plane ride to Florida, owns an IPod, as does his wife. They listen at respectable levels and expect others to do the same.

“I’m really conscious of that,” he says. “I’m the type of guy where if I’m in public, I’ll try not to offend anybody if I can help it.”