I literally cannot remember the last time I took the New York City subway. Maybe it was at the tail end of February or during the earliest days of March, but it has been over two months since I’ve used public transit, just another strange facet of this strange new world. I’m thankful to have a job that allows me to work from home, as well as a car that has been crucial in assuring my boyfriend can attend his oncology appointments with minimal risk of contracting covid-19 en route. But there are countless New Yorkers who do not have this privilege.
Train ridership has plummeted 90 percent compared to this time a year ago, but the subway is still packed with essential workers every day. They’re doctors and nurses, delivery couriers and restaurant employees, they’re receptionists and mail distributors, pharmacy workers and grocery store clerks. Nearly every day, these people—disproportionately lower-income, disproportionately black and brown—throw on a mask and prepare for their commute, aware that even nightly cleanings don’t negate the reality of traveling in a potential virus Petri dish.
This is why it’s particularly galling that some asshole searching for TikTok fame decided to spill a tub full of Fruity Pebbles and a gallon of milk inside a subway car for laughs.
“I got the munchies on the subway today, so I pulled out some cereal and started chomping away,” says @fuckjoshy in a voiceover. “People started staring at me, but I just assumed everyone recognized me because of my OnlyFans.”
He continued, “They all looked really hungry though, so I asked if anyone wanted cereal, and that’s when it all fell.”
Another video documents his attempt to put the soggy cereal back in the tub as commuters find refuge in other parts of the train car; some moved to the neighboring car to escape the chaos.
It’s worth noting that the train car is full of black and brown faces, except for @fuckjoshy, a white guy who—unsurprisingly—didn’t consider the optics of this deeply unfunny prank. But considering the fact that his TikTok account consists almost entirely of deeply unfunny pranks, he likely did not care about anything beyond the prospect of TikTok views.
Theatrics on the subway aren’t new—someone literally released over 600 insects on a crowded train back in 2016 and called it art— but there is a unique sort of cruelty that compels someone to disrupt a subway journey during a pandemic. And apparently, the Metropolitan Transit Authority agrees.
The MTA retweeted the video on Twitter with the following statement: “A new low: Pulling a prank on essential workers in the middle of a global pandemic. And making essential workers clean up your mess. Despicable.”
New Yorkers have a love-hate relationship with the train, and while it’s hard to yearn for the days of being smushed between surly commuters in a packed train car, there are plenty of things to miss about it: The ritual of getting a playlist queued up for your journey, the kids selling snacks for a dollar, and even the ShowTime dancers who—whether you love them or hate them—at least have some talent. Talentless jokesters with Tosh.0 energy who have no qualms with covering workers in milk on their way home or to work have no place in this blissful recollection of train life pre-covid, and they should consider making themselves scarce from here on out.
Update, May 15, 11:30 a.m.: It looks like @fckjoshy issued a shitty apology.