A basket of crabs

Watch Out for the Crabs in the Basket

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A basket of crabs

Crabs in a Basket

Growing up in the middle of a commercial fishing family, I’ve seen plenty of crabs. And I’m talking about the Crustacean, but we will get to people in a minute. When I see live crabs, I run. I run away. I run for my life. I don’t want to be pinched. I don’t want to pick them up. I’m not helping sort them out. I remember telling my brother when we were done in the boat that he could pay me less for the day because I just couldn’t help grade crabs. I’ve seen them, though, from a safe distance, and I know that the expression about crabs in a basket is true.

No Way Out

When one crab tries to sneak out of the basket, he will be almost over the edge and another crab says, “Nope.” They pull each other right back down. Full disclosure – I am not a crab psychologist. I did check this with some crab experts who I know very well. I easily imagine crabs as little clawed villains, but the truth is that they just aren’t smart enough to work together to escape. Maybe Crabby Sue doesn’t want Johnny to break free just because she’s so mean. How would I know?

This idea of the crab mentality as it relates to people is true, though, unfortunately. We’ve all seen it a thousand times.

A Sad Lesson

So many people really don’t like seeing others succeed. Sometimes it doesn’t make a bit of difference if it’s your first cousin or your sibling or your friend or your grandma. Some people are just mean. Some people don’t want you to do well because you aren’t them. It’s like they actually get joy from your misfortune. The sooner you learn this sad lesson, the better.

It’s always interesting to me who helps others climb the ladder. Some people will help total strangers before they help their own family. They will only help for a spotlight, or a favor, while others help because they are simply good. Some people feel a pull to do the right thing and think about others, even when it means sacrificing for themselves. They give intentionally without any acknowledgment or expectation of return. And some don’t.

So the lesson is that we have some humans scurrying around like little crabs, sabotaging the happiness of others. And with people there is no question of the motive. It is just out of meanness, selfishness, jealousy, undealt with sorrow.

Watch Out for the Crabs in the Basket

What do we do with this? Well, run if you want to. We have to try to stay in the basket with the right “crabs.” It’s easy to find yourself surrounded with the wrong ones. Finding the right ones might take extra effort. The right ones will get you out of the basket if they can’t keep you from getting into it in the first place. They might even help you grab a few others out to be on better ground.

It’s not bad to hang out with spicy crabs, right, but if that’s all you have then that’s all you have. Remember before you get pinched that that’s just what they do. It might not be personal to them but it’s going to feel personal to you. Watch out for the crabs in the basket.

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