His left AirPod tumbled from his ear and fell, forever gone, to the runway below. Since losing his right earbud this year, Mr. Shea had been carefully shepherding the left one until its dive to the tarmac. But, hey, it works.
But like other modern gadgets, they have for some become an emotional burden and pain in the wallet. The devices of modern life deliver connectivity and constant pressure. Smartphones, beyond incessant demands for attention, must be synced, silenced or charged. AirPods add to the jitters. The sleek white apostrophes that resemble electric toothbrush heads are slippery, small and easily pop out of ears.
Popularity is finally skyrocketing, three years after their launch. So are the losses.
Terri Gerstein will never go back to wearing a tether between her ear and phone. The pod hunt was successful but left her shaken. Gerstein, who directs a workplace-law program at Harvard Law School. Anna Madison, a year-old server, conducted a salvage operation this year using dental floss and a magnetic Juul electronic cigarette charger. She looped a length of floss through holes in the e-cig charger, lowered it into the grate and retrieved the earbud with magnetic force. Sometimes, it takes a village. For years, they picked up baby pacifiers, mail, even dentures. Then everybody got AirPods for Christmas.
Dluginski said. This summer has been the worst, possibly because the heat and humidity on subway platforms makes the ears and hands of New Yorkers pretty sweaty, he guessed. Transit workers 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.
Dluginski called it. Around noon on a recent Thursday, Mr.
Six were for AirPods. Riders who try to retrieve earbuds from subway tracks can cause annoying delays. Such rogue missions also can be dangerous.
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