Due to the recent weather hijinks and subsequent flooding in Rochester, unsuspecting students now face a new hazard on their walks to class. On top of the icy rain, oceanic puddles, and general misery, the campus sidewalks are now covered with…dun dUn dun Duhhh…WORMS. Fat worms, skinny worms, long worms, short worms, broken-in-half worms, patched-back-together worms, live worms, dead worms, earthworms!
On dry mornings, when the ground breathes a sigh of relief to finally escape the endless battering from the clouds, shriveled corpses line the paths from Jackson Court to the library. It’s a graveyard of fallen earthworm soldiers, and if you dare to blink while walking, you are liable to end up christening your new Nikes with Eau de Worm. Be warned.
Perhaps the scarier moments, however, come in the depths of night. Should you dare to stay in Rush Rhees past 9 p.m., even if, hours earlier, you entered on a sunny day, the library will spit you out into a sprinter (spring + winter) storm. Huddled into your rain jacket in exhausted resignation as you pause outside of iZone and prepare to run back to your only slightly warmer hellhole of a dorm, you may suddenly find yourself blinded by a ring of flashlights.
“FREEZE!” a voice will yell. “DON’T MOVE YOUR FEET!”
Okay. It’s not Public Safety, I promise. No need to put your hands up. You’ve actually been lucky enough to encounter one of UR’s most secretive clubs. They convene only for the two rainiest weeks of the year, in late March or early April, every night at 10 p.m.. Their origins? Suspicious. Their leader? Unknown. Their task?
“SAVE THE WORMS!” With their battle cry ringing through the stormy air, the members of the Worms Are Better Than People club will set out in an ever-widening circle from Rush Rhees for their nightly worm Sweep ‘n Save. Eyes peeled, flashlights swinging, they will inch along each path until encountering a struggling earthworm.
“I’ve found another one!” you’ll hear them yell. “Quick, bring the chopsticks!” You may not be able to believe your eyes as you watch each fellow student, drenched to the bone, carefully use a pair of chopsticks to gently lift a drowning worm from the concrete.
Amidst the scrambling, club members already holding a worm will pause momentarily. Still watching from the iZone entrance, now with an ever-growing group of late-night library gremlins awaiting release (a Wormer will have informed you that you must wait for the nightly sidewalk de-Worming to be finished before making your way home, to prevent any accidental worm-squishing), you will watch in fascination as the apparent Worm Leader rallies his troops.
“Everybody got one?” A chorus of “ayes” will follow. “Alright. Aim for the swings in three… two… one!” On one, you’ll watch each Wormer spin with their chopsticks and send their recently rescued worm flying into the grass and back to dirty safety. You’ll cheer along with them as they widen their search field and begin again. The Wormers are very efficient, don’t worry. They’ll have your path back to the Quad cleared of friendly composters within half an hour, at which point the Worm Leader will gesture you forward with a humble bow.
“Thank you for your commitment to saving our planet’s most important composters, and our dear tiny slimy friends,” he’ll say. Pro tip: don’t take his offered hand — it’s likely to be covered in worm juice. Honestly, at this point it’s in your best interest to close your gaping mouth and just nod amicably.
If it’s raining again tomorrow night, though, you might just want to leave iZone a bit earlier.