Of Crabs and Their Buckets


crabs in a bucket

This post has been on my mind for quite some time now and tonight is just as good a night as any to get it off my chest. Not to put too fine a point on it, I am sick and tired of fighting the crab bucket people inhabiting this crab bucket world with its abundance of crab bucket mentality.

Some of you get the allusion right off; others of you are convinced, if you weren’t already, that I have finally lost my mind. I stepped in something barefooted and the toxins went through the crust on my grocery store feet and right to my brain. I hear you thinking now, “The poor man (or we would say here in the South, “Bless his heart”) he’s overcome by seafood.”

For those who don’t know the story, a young man walked up to a guy crabbing off a pier and noticed the crabber had a bucket with several crabs in it and the bucket had no lid. Being a curious sort, the youngster inquired of the man why his bucket was lidless. Wasn’t he afraid of losing his hard won bounty? The crabber’s reply is telling and if we work in education it sticks a knife in our guts if we dare to give it more than a passing read; if we really let it sink in: “No son, you don’t have to put a lid on a crab bucket. The crabs take care of themselves. Soon as one gets a claw on the bucket rim and starts to work its way out, some of the others will grab it and drag it back on down into the bucket. Seems like they want to make sure everyone gets to the boiling water together.

Know any crabs? Seen a bright student flush with potential get locked onto by some pincer claws and pulled back down into the crab bucket chaos? Crabs are everywhere and we’re all in the middle of a big crab bucket. The easiest crabs to deal with are those outside. They’re a lot of them, but they can be quickly dismissed as lacking intelligence enough to discuss the matter at hand. Politicians seem to be a crabby lot and they come to mind in this first bunch. You know the ones who get up and bluster “our public schools are FAILING OUR CHILDREN and if you elect me and support my voucher campaign, we’ll fix everything!!!!” Those of y’all working in those so-called “failing schools” and turning out exceptional children each year probably get a little nauseated everytime you feel that cold crab claw closing.

The second species of crabs are much worse . . . much, much worse. They are the insiders. They are the purest form of crab because they really ARE in the same bucket with you. Ever heard one colleague remark about or even TO another colleague something on the order of “I don’t know why you are bothering with National Boards (or getting a Phd or another Masters or working with a difficult child or using a different brand of toilet paper . . . etc) because it’s just a waste of time and effort because . . . ” and the old crab gives a list of reasons why “it’s a waste of time and effort” and, more often than not, the poor crabbitten victim starts to believe some of the poison.

So crabs are everywhere. You’ve got your Principal Crabs, your School Board Crabs, Parent Crabs, and the list can go on and on of people who just seem to enjoy watching, and sometimes helping, others fail. It’s human nature at its absolute worst. “I can’t do that so I’ll be hanged if I let you do that.” We think that schoolyard stuff gets left behind in the halls of middle school, but it has a way of surviving. Crabs are a very old group of animals and they’ve adapted well at surviving.

Still, those aren’t the worst crabs. The absolute, no doubt, bar none worst crab we have to deal with is the one reading this computer screen right now. Yep, I said it. WE are our own WORST CRABS. We listen to the devil on our shoulders. We believe the negative self talk and depressing thoughts about ourselves that always seem present. How many of you have ever sat down to hash out how you were going to do something new and innovative? How many times have you had to fight through the self-whispers like “What am I thinking?” and “This’ll never work!”

Dunno, maybe I’m the only one who has to deal with a nasty crusteacean between my ears. In any event, it’s up to us to fight back and claw our way out of these buckets we’re in by any means necessary. For some, it may mean a job change while for others it may take setting different boundaries with some family members. You can be your sweet Aunt Rosie’s right rear cheek that it won’t be easy, no matter what. But, you owe it to yourself to do it.

If I’d listened to the crab-thoughts in my head, I’d never have set foot on a college campus, much less ended up with a MLIS, and I’m a horrible crab fighter. So, the old school year just ended. Crush all your crabs and have a good old fashioned Lowcountry Boil. Vow right now to make next year a crab free time.

While you’re at it . . . watch out for your kids and for each other. Sometimes it’s easier for a friend to knock those pesky creatures off another friends back. Remember what I’ve always said if you don’t remember anything else I ever right in this dinky little corner of cyberspace “we are all on this rock together and we won’t make it if we don’t help each other AND just because no one else seems to want to help is no reason I shouldn’t.” We’ve got to look out for each other, y’all. It’s the only way we’ll make it.

Until next time, check out some of the new members of my blog roll for some crab fighting tips and as always, I love y’all and don’t forget to wash your feet.

2 responses »

  1. I just love this blog…

    Please contact me via email about your current employment situation. Are you still looking for something closer to home?

  2. What a great message in this post, and so true. Summer is a great time to push all the problems of last year out and start out fresh.

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