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New York’s subway crickets and other tales of loose animals inside crowded trains

Next time you’re stuck in a #WMATA #hotcar, just be grateful that there isn’t an animal infestation of literal biblical proportions.

An incident involving a woman who sprayed a packed New York subway car with live crickets has just upped the ante on worst-commute-ever stories.

The narrative, first reported by the New York Post, is equal parts bizarre, sad and horrifying: On Wednesday night, a woman on a D train was holding a box of crickets and worms and trying to sell them to passengers when a group of teenagers pushed her, the Post reported. She flung the box into the air, releasing its contents.

The woman started screaming at the other passengers, threatening to defecate. A scared passenger pulled the emergency brake, which immediately stopped the train and ensured that passengers would be stuck inside the chaotic, sweltering car, where they waited for half an hour.

From the New York Post:

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 [passenger Chris] Calabrese. “Then some men were trying to hold her down and she started trying to throw up on them.”

Ultimately, the train pulled into a station and police took the woman to a hospital.

Of course, once things started to go haywire, passengers whipped out their phones to document the pandemonium.

Okay, so, let’s be real for a second: The woman at the center of the incident was clearly having issues, and that’s definitely not funny.

But the idea of a cloud of crickets leaping into a crowd of cowering rush-hour commuters? Okay, that’s a little bit funny.

But it’s not the first (or the last) time that unusual animal interactions have caused passengers some, er, discomfort on subway cars.

There are the pigeons that regularly ride New York’s A train, and the coyote who jumped on the light-rail system in Portland, Ore.

Then there’s this epic saga of a snake that disappeared on a Red Line train in Boston, as reported by the Boston Globe:

The woman became concerned that she could not find Penelope, her pet snake, as the train surfaced between Andrew and JFK/UMass stations. At the stop, the MBTA held the train for about four minutes as T employees helped search the car in which the woman was riding, but Penelope was nowhere to be found.
Not wanting to cause further delay, the T ran the train as scheduled for five stops to Braintree, where the train, by then empty, was held so that Red Line personnel and the MBTA Transit Police could examine each of the six cars, accompanied by the woman.
The search was called off a little after 12:30 p.m., and the train was returned to service. Pesaturo did not know what species of snake was reported missing, but said officials were confident that the train was safe and reptile-free. 
 “She was pretty distraught,’’ Garvin said. “She was like, ‘It was just around my neck a second ago. God, my husband’s going to kill me!’ ’’

Some people believed that the woman had invented the whole story. And then, one month later, this:

… At 10 yesterday morning, a Red Line passenger spotted a snake and alerted a motorman, MBTA Transit Police Lieutenant Daniel Fitzgerald said last night. The train was taken out of service, but it was not until 8:30 p.m. that Red Line train attendant Sharon Lynch, a snake owner herself, got Penelope into a box at the JFK/UMass station.
“You can’t make this stuff up,’’ Fitzgerald said.

The upside: If the folks in New York have trouble cleaning up all those crickets, they know where to find a snake with plenty of experience eating bugs on subway cars.