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"Worms of the
Big Apple"

by Taraneh Aghdaie


What all of us worms of the Big Apple are worried about these days is that the transit workers are going to go on strike. But although most New Yorkers would consider such a strike a grave inconvenience at the very least (punctuated with choice phrases in the native New York-ese, of course), convenience should, in my mind, be the least of our concerns. The way I see it, these legion "bus drivers" and "subway conductors", so innocently named, wield incredible, ungodly, and terrifying power over the generally hurried masses who have little recourse, considering that driving a car in Manhattan is, in most cases, pretty much just plain RETARDED.

Being that parking for a day on our fair isle exacts a price sufficient to fuel, man, and sail a large yacht to Chile and back, many of us opt to invest in one of those hideously-overdesigned-yet-ingenuous (as in form follows function fine, but the graphic artist must have enjoyed copious amounts of controlled substances) metro cards. Then we simply "please swipe again at this turnstile" until we're on our way...sort of. First, there's usually the obligatory leaning perilously over the edge of the platform in an attempt to glimpse the light at the end of the tunnel, followed by pleas from the driver to "let 'em off first" and repeated requests from those disembodied (they must be alien) voices to "stand clear of the closing doors ding-dong".

Anyway, my point is these crazy transit people CONTROL OUR LIVES!!! Don't you SEE??? Imagine this scenario: a typical partly-cloudy New York day with people mobbing, filing around the opening to the subway, fishing for their cards & tokens, running, limpling, slithering down the stairs. They're all hoping they haven't just missed the train. They dream of seeing the "go" light up green and stepping effortlessly through the turnstile just as the cars roll into veiw, and they step in and are lucky enough to get a seat without being elbowed or spilling their coffee on their copy of "The Enquirer". But that's just wishful thinking.

On this day, as the passengers slide their cards through, the turnstiles aren't saying how much fare is left. Instead, little red letters blaze across the displays that read "hell to pay". But the typically dazed crowd doesn't notice so they follow each other like a flock of fluffy soft black & tan clad sheep onto the platform. An empty train arrives momentarily, the doors slide open "Please use all available doors." Then "Due to disgruntled transit workers, no uptown service today. In fact, no up service whatsoever at all. Stand clear of the closing doors ding-dong". The doors close. People sip coffee. "Again, ladies and gentlemen, no up service. All trains are running down only. This is an EXPRESS train. No local stops are being made. This is a Hell-bound express train making no stops between here and Hell. For your safety please do not lean on the doors ding-dong." People pull out the standard reading materials. Some time later "Ladies and gentlemen, due to perpetual construction in Hell, we are being held by the train's dispatcher. We appreciate your patience and should be on our way shortly." People with discmans turn up the volume as someone shuffles through the doors at the end of the car. "I'm sorry to bother you! Please can you help me! My name is Bob and I'm homeless and hungry! Anything you give will help! It doesn't have to be money! An apple, an orange!" A businessman mumbles "Why should we be benevolent? We're going to Hell anyway". The homeless man continues, "My leg is broken, my grandma died, a poisonous scorpion bit me, a llama trampled my clothes, the Dalai Lama turned my brother into a frog," and he turns to some seated passengers, "help the homeless?" Everyone looks hard at the floor. The homeless man scowls. "Fine! Go to Hell!!" He moves on to the next car. The businessman chuckles. The alien voice says "This is the First Circle. Transfer available to the Styx train." Train stops. Through the opening doors over the station intercom, "Attention passengers. Please beware of the fiery pit. For your safety, step away from the fiery pit edge as trains enter and leave the station." "This is a Satan-bound Hell train making all local stops between here and the Evil Guy. Next stop... still Hell. Stand clear of the closing doors..."



Go to hell, er, index.