Last Friday we discovered, to our horror, what appears to be a used condom decorously knotted to a handrail on the F train. As the sad day wore on, more witnesses came forward to say that they'd spotted the condom as far back as September 24th. And now yet another commuter has emailed us a photo of the thing, still dangling on the F train pole like it's the last wacky ornament to be taken down off a brown Christmas tree.
In an email with the dismaying subject field "subway condom still making its rounds," F train rider John La tells us that he snapped the above photo on Monday morning (yesterday), at 9:54 a.m. as the F train shouldered its load into Manhattan from Queens.
How long the used condom has been festooned there is anyone's guess. And, to be sure, it is possible this is a different prophylactic... though we find that unlikely, as all the photos we've received feature the same advertisement in the background and show the rubber tied in the exact same way. But sure, maybe this is all just a viral marketing stunt for ASA College?
The more pressing question is not how long the condom's been hanging there, but when is the thing going to be removed? MTA spokesman Adam Lisberg has issued this statement:
This has been brought to the highest levels of the subway system, and our cleaning crews will be on the lookout for it whenever they clean cars at the end of the line. They will also note the car number, and then will try to determine when it was last brought in for a more thorough cleaning.
Subway cars usually get a basic cleaning when they reach the end of the line - sweep up the litter, mop the floor. And while a condition like this should have been caught and remedied, I can understand why cleaners who are focused on the seats and floors would not necessarily have looked up at every grab bar on a 10-car train. Trains go in for a more thorough cleaning at various intervals, but without knowing the car number, we can’t go back and determine its maintenance history.
Two lessons for Gothamist readers: The MTA does not typically determine maintenance priorities by reading Gothamist, so if you spot a condition that needs to be corrected (or, of course, a potential safety or security threat), report it to a station agent or other MTA personnel. And since we have more than 6,000 subway cars and more than 5,000 buses, if you want to get something fixed, as opposed to just sharing it on Facebook, make note of the car number.
And if I may add: Every time someone does something horrible on the subway, an MTA employee has to clean it up. They have infection-control protocols and protective equipment available if necessary, but it’s still a lousy task to have to undertake. I hope your readers will have a little sympathy for whoever ends up fixing this problem.
La, our most recent tipster, adds, "When I found that it was the same condom, I was relieved that it was the same condom and not a new one. Potentially a serial condommer or worse: a new trend." Unfortunately, it appears the incident has inspired copycats.
This video was posted on YouTube yesterday; it shows someone filling a condom up with soap and then documents various commuters reacting in horror when they realize it's tied above their heads. Hilarious. (We don't want to encourage "pranks" of this nature, so we're not embedding it.)
The native content producers of tomorrow who made the video claim to be behind the F train condom, but they say they filmed their video over the weekend, after the first revolting incident came to our attention, and their video does not include any footage from the F train. We asked them to provide any photos or video proving they tied the F train condom to the pole, but they say they don't have any documentation, and that "the original was done or at least posted around last Tuesday by someone my friend knows." Riiiight.
The good news is that the next time you see what appears to be a used condom on the subway, it may just be filled with fake semen. But there's two bits of "bad news" here: 1) We may never find the Real Killer 2) We will probably be nonchalant the next time we see some semen-filled "subway mistletoe" dangling above our heads.