The MTA has to deal with a lot of annoying behavior from straphangers—subway surfing, people smashing their ad screens, children with recorders—but there is one thing that has been really getting to them lately. Forget people putting bags of concrete mix on the tracks: the current annoying trend is all the people dropping their AirPods, and then either trying to get them themselves or getting MTA employees to jump onto the tracks to retrieve them. All this after one of their latest announcements was geared at getting riders to wear headphones!
The Wall Street Journal first reported on the irksome recent trend involving the increasingly ubiquitous $159 wireless headphones. Transit workers have apparently been fielding tons of requests for AirPod rescues since March, when Apple released a new version. To get them, they often use a pole that "extends to about 8 feet and has two rubber cups on the end that can be squeezed together to grab small objects" (workers apparently refer to it as the “picker-upper thing”).
According to the NY Post, subway workers retrieved 84 AirPods — nearly 20 per month — and hundreds more items listed as “earbuds,” “earpods,” or “headphones” between March and midway through July.
It's gotten so annoying, a spokesperson told the Journal the MTA is apparently considering whether to launch a public service announcement campaign urging commuters to refrain from taking AirPods on or off while entering or exiting trains. Or maybe they should just start encouraging people to use boomboxes again? (The MTA previously told us that they update their announcements all the time in response to emerging patterns and trends.)
We've reached out to the MTA (and Apple) for comment on the AirPods. In the meantime, enjoy a composite photo of a drunken panda whose AirPods are moments away from falling out of his ears and rolling onto the tracks.