I found out that I had enough money for about 65 very frisky crabs, so I placed my order. The crabs were put in a big Styrofoam travel cooler along with seaweed to keep them fresh for the short flight home. The cooler was then packed with a packing list and a “fragile, handle with care” stamp, and sealed with packing tape all the way around, ready for travel. Nice and secure. I paid the man and got my receipt to turn in, and carried the crabs to an awaiting taxi and rode back to the airport. I had about an hour before boarding, and since I already had my ticket, I went to get my boarding pass and check the cooler into cargo. I placed the cooler on the luggage step and a lady employee grabbed it to tag it and put it on the conveyor belt. That’s when it happened.
As the airport luggage lady picked up the cooler and lifted it to her chest, the clatter of 65 sets of crab claws startled her – she yelped and dropped the cooler. It landed on the outside of the check-in desk and promptly broke open. There was a moment of silence, but then the crabs smelled freedom and all hell broke loose as they took off in every direction with me in hot pursuit.
The onslaught of crabs did not go well in the terminal – people began yelling and screaming as they encountered the blue crustaceans. I looked up at one point to see an attractive lady jump up on her seat screaming like she saw a mouse, and a man trying to step on one of the crabs like it was a bug. Several children were whisked up by concerned parents trying to avoid angry claws. Airport employees joined in the hunt and bedlam continued to grow as the crabs dispersed everywhere. I shamefully admit I was reduced to helpless laughter at the chaotic scene.
In the end only about a dozen crabs were retrieved and I had to fill out a loss form with a copy of my receipt. The airport kept the remaining crabs as they were in rough shape and we had nothing to put them in for transport. I had a hamburger for dinner instead of a seafood feast.
On the bright side, in a few weeks I received a full refund check and a letter of apology. We cashed the check and my wife, Susan, and I had dinner at a local seafood restaurant in Great Barrington (Captain Toss at the time). I still sometimes wonder if any of those little blue crabs found their way back to the water.
~ Michael Romano, a Great Barrington, MA, resident for almost 40 years, is an avid fisherman who in his own words “kind of treats fishing as a contact sport and has had more than a few misadventures in the process.” Michael is a retired chef who loves to grow hot peppers and vegetables in his wheelchair-accessible garden. He and his wife, Susan, worked for many years at the now-closed Kolburne School.
Read this article in the Fall/Winter 2019 issue of Our BerkshireTimes Magazine.