So many New Yorkers have dropped their AirPods onto subway tracks this summer that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority is considering issuing a PSA to ask commuters not to take their AirPods on or off while entering or exiting trains, according to The Wall Street Journal.
MTA maintenance supervisor Steven Dluginski says the number of lost AirPods first spiked in March after Apple released the AirPods 2, but there’s been a considerable uptick this past summer, presumably due to the heat and humidity on subway platforms that makes “the ears and hands of New Yorkers pretty sweaty.” It’s true that during the summer months, stepping onto a subway platform is a disgusting, sauna-like experience. In an investigation, Gothamist found that some platforms can get as hot as 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s definitely steamy enough for those tiny earbuds to slip out of sweaty ears.
Up to 25 MTA workers comb the tracks for lost items every weekday. In the past, they retrieved items like baby pacifiers and dentures. Now, they find AirPods. The WSJ says that on one particular Thursday, the MTA received 18 requests to fetch lost items, and six of them were for AirPods. “It’s job security, as far as we’re concerned,” Dluginski says.
MTA workers use an eight-foot pole with two rubber claws at the end to grab items, but retrieval can take a while. In July, one of commuter Ashley Mayer’s AirPods fell onto the tracks. She was told that it would take two hours to retrieve, and she had to be present for it. So she went on a DIY rescue mission and managed to retrieve her AirPod with some duct tape attached to the end of a broom. It may not have been the safest or most sanitary option, but it was certainly cheaper than paying $69 for a replacement AirPod.