August 26, 2016

A woman selling crickets and worms in the NYC subway "suddenly threw them all over the crowded car" — and it was so crazy...

... that some fool did the one thing you might think to do — because it is an emergency — but you absolutely should not do if you want to get to the next station as quickly as possible: He pulled the emergency brake!
The air conditioning shut off and the screaming passengers were all stuck inside the sweltering car with the woman, who then treated them to antics for half an hour as the crickets jumped on passengers. The worms just wriggled on the floor.

“She was banging on the doors and trying to climb out the windows. Everyone had crickets on their arms. My girlfriend was crying,” said Calabrese. “Then some men were trying to hold her down and she started trying to throw up on them.”
It could have been worse. It could have been underground. Luckily, the train was crossing the Manhattan Bridge, so there was light and a view of the real, noncrazy world. And you could tweet. E.g.: "There are crickets in subway rn and they won't stop being loud af." 

By the way, did you know that crickets stink? I learned that from the David Sedaris story "April in Paris" (April is a spider):
April hadn’t eaten in more than a week when, just by chance, I happened upon a pet store and learned that it sold live crickets, blunt little black ones that looked like bolts with legs. I bought a chirping boxful and felt very proud of myself until the next morning, when I learned something that no nature show ever told me: crickets stink. They reek. Rather than dirty diapers or spoiled meat—something definite you can put your finger on—they smell like an inclination: cruelty, maybe, or hatred.
IN THE COMMENTS: EDH said:
“Then some men were trying to hold her down and she started trying to throw up on them.”

We need an "Insect Politics" tag over here!
I like to use my insect politics tag whenever I can, but I didn't see how to make the stretch here. EDH provides the video that clinches it:

45 comments:

Karen of Texas said...

Yes. Squashed cricket stink horribly. Ever so many years we are overrun by vast quantities of crickets. They create a living mass clustered around doorways, in stairwells. Creepy as hell. Happens in August. You can't help put step on them to get through. The smell is vile. There was one year when they were so bad that shop keepers were using brooms to try to sweep paths through them. I am not kidding. The stench from crushed crickets was overpowering. At that to Texas August heat...

traditionalguy said...

So how many counts of animal cruelty does this get her charged with? Cruelty to humans is accepted these days, but Thou Shalt Not Hurt Animals.

Karen of Texas said...

*Add that... Did I mention when they cluster that they don't just do it on the ground? It's like running a gauntlet. You never know if several are going to end up dropping on you from above.

Robert Cook said...

When I read this last night I laughed out loud. I'm sure it was unpleasant to experience--heck, being trapped on a stalled, un-air-conditioned subway train in the middle of summer would be miserable without crickets, worms, and a crazy lady.
However, just picturing the frantic scene, I couldn't help but laugh. It seemed something straight out of a movie.

Rob said...

I asked a friend in New York if this was she. Her reply was, "And this is exactly why I don't ride the letter subways."

Oso Negro said...

As with California, there is no horrible event in New York City that I can't enjoy reading about, as long as there are no fatalities

MadisonMan said...

First, there's the stampede at JFK that nobody reports on/talks about, and now this subway car.

Why does anyone live in NYC?

readering said...

Reminds me why, when I moved out of NYC it was in August.

Robert Cook said...

"Why does anyone live in NYC?"

Because it's the greatest city in America!

(Though it's not as great as it used to be before it started cleaning itself up, and before the art-house/revival cinemas and record stores and bookstores and other odd only-in-NYC places started disappearing, victims to increasing rents and a changing cultural and technological world.)

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Luckily, the train was crossing the Manhattan Bridge, so there was light and a view of the real, noncrazy world.

The Manhattan Bridge is nowhere near high enough to allow you to see that far.

Fernandinande said...

A group of teenagers pushed her,

They're not supposed to mention race when it's supposedly irrelevant.

MadisonMan said...
First, there's the stampede at JFK that nobody reports on/talks about, and now this subway car.
"one woman screamed that she saw a gun.


They're not supposed to mention sex when it's supposedly irrelevant.

Why does anyone live in NYC?

They don't know any better.

MadisonMan said...

Fine then, Robert: Why does anyone live in a city? :)

MadisonMan said...

Having read the story, let me ask: You pull the Emergency Brake, and *30 minutes later* the subway car finally is allowed to proceed to the station.

What kind of Emergency requires that a 30-minute pause is involved?

Darrell said...

Amazingly, she was still funnier than Leslie Jones.

Left Bank of the Charles said...

Sounds like someone pulled the emergency brake as part of the stunt.

EDH said...

“Then some men were trying to hold her down and she started trying to throw up on them.”

We need an "Insect Politics" tag over here!

CStanley said...

Yes, crickets stink. The only thing worse than having a pet that needs its enclosure cleaned regularly to prevent odors is having a pet (bearded dragon) that requires that as well as a separate habitat of crickets for its food, where half of them die and release their stench.

William said...

I like NYC ever so much better now that I don't have to travel by subway........Nowadays the subways are far, far better than when I was young, but if you use them often enough a bad experience is a historical inevitability.

Laslo Spatula said...

So I am getting intimate with my wife -- you know: having sex -- when I feel that Something is Wrong Down There.

I say to my wife: It seems like something is crawling around Down There.

And she says: Oh, That.

I say: Oh That? What does 'that' mean?"

And she proceeds to tell me how she was trapped in a subway car that day with a woman who let out a bag of live crickets.

Then she says: So there is probably a live cricket in my vagina.

What? I say. There is a live cricket in your vagina?

Yeah, she says. I thought I had got all of them out.

"All of them? How many crickets WERE in your vagina?

"I don't know, she says: maybe eight or nine. It's hard to say: some came out in pieces. They were hard to fish out -- they kept squirming away from my fingers.

And you weren't going to tell me this BEFORE we had sex?

And she says: I didn't think it was worth mentioning.

Not worth mentioning? You had live crickets in your vagina and you didn't think it was worth mentioning?

Yeah, she says. Nothing else: just Yeah.

Is there anything else living in your vagina that I should know about?

Nope, she says: Just the crickets.

Needless to say, I was no longer in the mood.

I don't know if I'll ever again be in the mood.

I might not have sex ever again.

At least with my wife.


I am Laslo.

Sam L. said...

Ladybugs in large numbers in a closed space also smell.

Robert Cook said...

"Nowadays the subways are far, far better than when I was young, but if you use them often enough a bad experience is a historical inevitability."

My worst subway experience was when I was stuck on the 7 train heading out to Queens near midnight in sub-freezing temperature for hours. I was heading in for a midnight shift at a hotel by LaGuardia Airport where I worked at the time. I was not scheduled to work the shift, but someone asked me as a favor to fill in for him.(This was in the early 80s; I had been in NYC for only about two years, or less.)

In Queens, as New Yorkers know, the 7 Train rides an elevated truck above the streets. A near-blizzard snowstorm had commenced and the tracks were so iced up the train could not move. We were stuck between stations. Moreover, the electricity was off. I was fortunate, having boarded the train at Times Square, (the beginning and end point for the 7 Train in Manhattan), in that I got a seat. The train had got crowded and many people had to stand in this dark, freezing, immobile train for hours.

I had boarded the train at 10:30 PM. As we could not move, the MTA decided to send an empty train out from behind us to try to push us forward enough that the first car or two of our train would be in the next station. This would allow the passengers to walk through the cars until we reached the front of the train, where we could exit onto the platform. The plan worked, but by the time it was completed and we exited the train, it was 3:00 AM. I was ill-clothed for the weather, wearing only Chuck Taylor high top sneakers for footwear, and an old army fatigue jacket for warmth. The snow on the ground was probably four feet or higher. No other trains were running, and I was miles from Manhattan and miles from my job.

I managed to find a payphone in the train station and I called my job. Being an airport hotel, they had a jitney used to convey people to and from LaGuardia Airport. They said they'd send it out for me. It took an hour to reach me--I was only a couple of miles from the hotel--and an hour to get back to the hotel, so it was 5:00 AM when I got to my job. The guy who had stayed overtime to fill in for me dropped his pen and said, "Okay, Bob, it's all yours!"

We were trapped in the hotel for the weekend, employees and guests alike, and food and supplies were running short. Finally, by Sunday afternoon, transportation was restored such that I could go home at the end of my Sunday shift.

Wilbur said...

Human beings in large numbers in a closed space also smell.
Especially dead ones.

dc said...

So how many crickets did she sell before the fun started?

mockturtle said...

Snakes would have been more fun.

Njall said...

Yellowjackets stink too, in quantity.

We came home from vacation once and there were yellowjacket corpses everywhere, but especially near doors, windows, etc. Went into our bedroom and there was the biggest pile of corpses - it was like a yellowjacket Auschwitz. It was a shocking thing to see.

They had a nest that kind of rotted a little hole in the ceiling, where the hive entrance was. Yellowjacket after unsuspecting yellowjacket came into our house and eventually succumbed to starvation there.

The stench was unbelievable.

Njall said...

By the way, is there a big market for crickets and worms on the NYC subway? That is new to me.

Ann Althouse said...

"By the way, is there a big market for crickets and worms on the NYC subway? That is new to me."

People have pets.

Ann Althouse said...

I'm going to just guess that the "worms" were mealworms.

Mealworms and crickets are typical food for your reptiles, no?

Ann Althouse said...

Mealworms are not worms but larvae (of the mealworm beetle).

CatherineM said...

"People have pets?" What? Don't act as though this is normal. I have never seen someone buying crickets and worms on the train. The woman is mentally ill.

Madison Man, you have no idea how much building is going on here to accommodate all of the yuppies (is that still a word?) that want to live here. LI City has apartments going up right next to the 59th Street Bridge ramps. Why anyone would want that apartment with a noisy ramp view, I have no idea, but they are filling the apartments before the whole building is complete. I am thinking those yuppies might say, "who wants to live in Madison, WI?"

Njall said...

Yes, no need to be obtuse. I expressed surprise not that there is a market for worms and crickets - clearly there would be for pets, as you stated - but that owners of those pets shop on the NYC subway

walter said...

Lamar,
You think YOU got problems...

Ann Althouse said...

Why wouldn't people be open to buying something they need on the subway? Typically, it would be a person who might otherwise be begging. The people with reptiles at home ride the subway and might appreciate not having to stop by the pet store. It's not such an odd thing to think.

Smilin' Jack said...

I like to use my insect politics tag whenever I can, but I didn't see how to make the stretch here.

So...you've never actually seen the movie?

mockturtle said...

Aren't there sufficient cockroaches in NYC to feed those hungry reptiles?

walter said...

Sure Ann, it's just creative commerce..with a little urination and vomit for effect.
Gets people talking..

Njall said...

Because in capitalism, you have to weigh the demand for something by the amount of effort you would expend to provide it. Certainly, there are a lot of reptile owners in NYC, but enough of them use the same station? Or does she just ride the trails every day with her jars of grubs, and have enough visibility to make enough sales to make it worth her while? How many pet owners would buy their grubs from a crazy lady in the subway, anyway? That's why we have pet stores, the supply is concentrated in an easily found central location.

Also, I imagine her coming up with this:

I need a hustle. Single cigarettes? Nah, a guy died selling those....

Felt circles for the bottom of furniture legs? Nah, too boring....

I've got it! Grubs and crickets! I can grow them in my bathtub. I'll ride the subway all day! Think of the interesting people I'll meet!

Believe me, this will not keep me up tonight - I'll let it go if you do...just seems like a strange choice with low payoff

Rob said...

And it appears the woman selling the insects was a performance artist. Hope they perform her ass into jail.

Laslo Spatula said...

"The people on their period ride the subway and might appreciate not having to stop by the drug store. It's not such an odd thing to think."

Selling single Kotex on the subway to women in need.

THAT will make money.


I am Laslo.

mockturtle said...

performance artist

You mean a topless dancer?

Laslo Spatula said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rob said...

You've got to hand it to Meryl Streep though. She totally inhabits the part.

William said...

The fact that it was a prank makes it even more of a hassle. NY has enough crazy people without artists thinking up clever, new, imaginative ways to be crazy......it was all in play, but the crickets did not die in play.

walter said...

"According to Pugh, police removed her from the subway car, and escorted her—handcuffed—to a nearby hospital. There, she played along with the doctor’s questions, never breaking character. She said she was effectively let go at the hospital, where she was picked up by her camera crew.
A spokesperson for the New York Police Department confirmed that an incident had taken place at 6:07 on a subway, and that Pugh had been taken to Methodist Hospital where she was checked for injuries. But the NYPD’s story diverged in several key ways from Pugh’s. The spokesperson said that Pugh was 26, not 21, for instance, and that the emergency brake was never pulled and the train never lost power.
Not everything in Pugh’s prank was staged, however. “I did really pee,” she admitted.
What an artist."

She should be held financially responsible for the police and medical resources diverted due to her "art". And some part of her punishment should be cleaning urine from the crevices of the NYC subway system. She won't have to fake vomit.

Ann Althouse said...

@Robert Cook You got a great story out of it. In the How to Build a Fire genre.