WHEN APPLE launched its ‘true wireless’ AirPods, it started a cult of wandering around with a white stick hanging out of each ear.
Users fall into two camps, generally – the “these things are siiiick” camp, and the “they’re going to fall out and I’m going to lose them” camp.
Well, score one for the latter, because New York’s subway operator MTA has warned that the problem of people dropping an AirPod onto its tracks is now so prevalent, it might call for a Public Service Announcement (PSA) – a tv spot warning of the dangers.
“They’re tiny. They’re hard to find,” Steven Dluginski, an MTA maintenance supervisor told the Wall Street Journal (paywalled). “The only saving grace is that they’re white.” (presumably meaning they’re slightly easier to find on the blackened tracks).
He’s not fussed though: “It’s job security, as far as we’re concerned,” he quips.
The newest version of AirPods seems to have compounded the problem with humid weather making them prone to falling out in a slick of earwax and sweat. Given that a replacement pod costs about £65 in new-Boris-Brexit-bucks, it’s not exactly small potatoes – and as for fixing them if they’re squished by a train? Forget about it.
Dluginski said that in a single morning, his team had been called to attend 18 items dropped onto tracks, of which a third were rogue AirPods. They have to be retrieved with a set of pincers on an 8-foot pole.
On occasion, commuters have taken matters into their own hands, one managed to grab their pod with a broom and some double-sided duct tape. Hope they cleaned it before using it again, is all.
Doubtless, MTA doesn’t recommend this course of action on one of the busiest subway systems in the world, on account of getting squished.
The problem is compounded, of course, because AirPods are tiny and rail tracks are big. Quite often they don’t fall straight down but bounce their way into dark crevices making them even more difficult to find.
Unless you’re a tube mouse. μ