It turns out that New York’s “subway cricket lady” episode was all a big prank.
It happened last week, when a woman got onto a packed D train and started trying to sell crickets and worms to passengers. The New York Post reported that when she was pushed by another passenger, she flung the box into the air, releasing the bugs into the crowd. Passengers, understandably were disgusted and scared. Someone pulled the emergency brake while the train was crossing the Manhattan Bridge — which meant that riders ended up stuck in a hot, crowded, cricket-infested train for the better part of 30 minutes, as the woman screamed, threatened to vomit on passengers, and urinated.
Now, the woman who started the pandemonium said that it was all an elaborate prank — performance art.
“It was a prank. I’m an actress. That was me,” a woman named Zaida Pugh told Fusion:
“I did this to show how people react to situations with homeless people and people with mental health,” Pugh explained. “How they’re more likely to pull out their phone than help.”
Pugh told the New York Post that she brought 300 crickets and 300 worms onto the train and had a friend flip the box of creepy crawlers. She posted a full, 16-minute video of the episode, which begins while she’s hawking her tub of bugs.
After that, the whole saga ends up being even more bizarre, scary and gross than was described in original news stories. A few passengers try to help her, others try to hold her down, and many of them are screaming, crying, and shrieking “No no no no NO!” when she indicates that she’s going to defecate on the train.
And yes, she did actually urinate on the floor.
A New York Police Department spokesperson said they have not charged Pugh with any wrongdoing, but did not say whether there could be potential charges in the future or efforts to make her to pay for the cost of cleaning up the crickets, worms, and urine.
And according to The Gothamist, she’s had second thoughts about the stunt:
Although she stands by her original intentions for the video, she was apologetic over how out of control things got: “I’m sorry about the situation and hope not to be be involved in anything like that,” she said, adding that she was considering changing “the way I do my work.”
Let’s hope she doesn’t switch to airplanes.