Image via screengrab

It takes a lot to rattle a New Yorker on the subway. There’s strange behavior, yes, but to truly shake our foundations, it’s going to take something bigger than a shoeless lady tossing back a Beck’s. It’s going to take a car full of crabs, or a dangling condom. This week’s Cricketpocalypse, though, was a horror factory for the ages, the type of thing you tell your kids while defending your decision to raise them in New Rochelle. It transported us back to a time when the city was a playground for possibility, when the grotesque and alarming lurked behind every sliding door. But we should have been more skeptical, because like every interesting thing, it was a damn hoax.


The untrustworthy New York Post reported Wednesday that a woman riding the D train dropped an entire forest’s worth of live crickets and worms after she was bumped by some Shitty Teens. The story was a tabloid’s wet dream: Bugs! Irate ranting! Teens! Violence and hysteria! Did I mention the woman urinated on herself? Gold.

Fusion, however, noticed a suspiciously well-shot video circulating on Facebook, one that far outclassed the shaky, vertical cell phone footage that blew up the internet.

It looked good. Too good. So Fusion called up the poster, Zaida Pugh, who admitted after a time that yes, the whole thing was staged.


The entire episode, she said, was a performance art piece meant to highlight the way people with mental and emotional health issues are treated.

“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.”

So she says. I’m more inclined to believe this next part:



Pugh, who said she is 21, claims to have done over 50 similar “pranks.”

“I hate doing auditions, and I really like the reactions,” she explained. “I like it when it goes viral and people react and think.”

If anything, I’ve learned to think twice before putting myself out to help someone on the subway, since it’s probably just going to turn out to be fake. The old man having a heart attack? The woman who dropped her baby? I’m no sucker! I’ll just keep reading my book.


You know what New York City really needs more of on the subway? The nutcracker guys. Bring back the nutcracker guys. They rule.