Okay, just like the hermit crab races that occur at our house now, let’s get this story to the finish line.
After we came home with the three hermit crabs, Woody, Violet2 and Sandy, we resumed vacation-life. If we wanted to go to the rides and games though, we had to walk down the boardwalk. And this necessitated passing the tourist-trap store that sold hermit crabs. These are the sickly hermit crabs, the ones that lure you in with pretty painted shells but that don’t live long - at least if you believe the online reviews. This is why we went to the other store for our hermies. And as a Realtor, I am all about online reviews because mine are ace. The hustle is real.
It’s hard to not stop and watch the crabs. They crawl all over the cage, partying like it’s 1999. Like you’re walking down the boardwalk in search of Funland and you hear the uunch uunch uunch of club music and follow the strobe lights right to this giant, hermit crab nightclub. Princess Roundhead and I peered in and they were all partying hard. Except one. He appeared to be asleep.
After watching for a while and seeing all the other crabs crawl over him, trying to steal his shell, Princess Roundhead and I decided to call for help. I was a bit inebriated so I wasn’t sure I trusted my judgment here so, fantastic mother that I am, I sent her in to the store. I could hear the whole thing though, and the conversation went like this:
Princess Roundhead: “My mom thinks this hermit crab is dead.”
(I had two thoughts when I heard this. First, I was really proud of M that she went by herself to ask for help. Second, when I heard her say “my mom,” I was like, “Whoa. I’m someone’s mom?” It still honestly catches me off guard sometimes and it had nothing to do with the Mermaid Water I was swigging down.)
Employee: Everyone think dead. But asleep.
These beach stores are manned and womanned by Eastern Europeans in the summer which I guess explains the terse, deadpan response and lack of crab knowledge. He finally relented, removed the crab from the cage and went into the store with it. Then he came back out, made the slicing motion across his neck and threw it into the dunes. Ugh. Thanks for breaking my kid’s heart, asshole.
The next night we walked by and one of the crabs was out of its shell. He was walking around looking for a new shell but there was no new shell because these people don’t actually care for these crabs, they just toss them in and hope people buy them. We tried to flag down help but they legitimately did not care about the crab. They said he would figure it out. Crabs are in danger when they are out of their shells, and this little guy was looking for cover. He finally went to hide under the giant food bowl.
Since no one at the store cared very much, I opened the cage despite the signs with warnings not to, and put a few shells in next to him hoping he would get his ass into one pronto. Nope.
This went on for probably half an hour. Every time we asked the employees to do something they just shrugged with the apathy of someone who would make a slicing motion across their neck when confronted with a dead crab. I told the Princess we needed to walk away, it was our last night of vacation and Real Estate Dad and Chubs were waiting for us to go do the rides. We made it about 15 feet.
She burst into tears. She said, “Mom, he’s like Ziggy! You saw Ziggy in the shelter and he was scared and going to die and you saved him. I want to save him!” Well shit. She had me there. This is the exact lesson I have wanted to ensure she learned early and often - compassion for animals. Real Estate Dad and I looked at each other, and we schlepped back to the store.
We put the new one into his own cage away from the other three and Real Estate Dad performed a shell-ectomy. He deposited him into a shell to see if he would take to it, and he did. So far so good. Today we got a 10 gallon aquarium delivered and now all 4 hermies have been put inside. They are loving life, checking out their new digs. Violet2 has abandoned her Spongebob shell for one of the new ones, and the four of them officially outnumber the dogs.
I may have to even out the species counts in the house.