Fallen AirPods are a plague upon New York City.
Apple earbuds aren’t just causing anxiety for owners who fear losing one of their pricey headphones during their commutes—the ergonomic hockey-stick-shaped pellets are a pain in the tracks for the city’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority workers.
According to The Wall Street Journal, the MTA is considering issuing a public service announcement that would press riders to avoid inserting and removing earbuds when they’re entering and leaving trains.
MTA maintenance supervisor Steven Dluginski told WSJ that the number of subway track rescues of AirPod spiked this summer after Apple released the second version of the device in March. By noon on a recent Thursday, Dluginski had received six requests to retrieve AirPods—out of a total of 18 lost item reports filed at that time.
Dluginski told the newspaper he thinks the humidity and heat are partially to blame, as commuters’ hands and ears get especially sweaty in the subway platforms.
When transit workers are dispatched to retrieve single AirPods, (which cost $69 for a replacement) they often use an eight-foot extending pole with a clamp, which Dluginski called the “picker-upper thing.”
“They’re tiny. They’re hard to find,” Dluginski, told WSJ, “the only saving grace is that they’re white.”
Some riders take matters into their own hands and construct makeshift picker-upper things. These independent efforts to rescue AirPods can be dangerous and potentially cause train delays.
In July commuter Ashley Mayer lost one of her AirPods to the tracks and decided to save it using a broom and duct tape. Her documentation of the quest went viral.
Mayer tweeted that she originally asked to have MTA workers rescue the earbud but was told it would take two hours and she would have to remain in the station. Presumably, MTA workers have more pressing matters than saving rogue AirPods.
Gizmodo science writer Ryan Mandelbaum, a real New Yawka, who has been riding the subway their entire life, commiserates with the subway workers who have to retrieve AirPods daily. “God bless da goils and boys in blue keepin MY CITY safe from da evil millenniums droppin e-pods all ova my subway,” Mandelbaum said, adding. “Rot in rat hell, Bill Da Blasio. Drink subway wawta, Androo Cuomo”