We've all encountered a Karen: the overly-dramatic and vicious suburban mom who needs to see the manager and won't stop until she does. Well these stories show that the Karen entitlement has spread across numerous ages and genders. These poor restaurant workers really should have just called in sick. Content has been edited for clarity.
The Biggest Karen Fail Imaginable
“As the new guy, I was given the task of opening up the restaurant. This meant arranging tables and setting them up, stocking the bar and waiters station, counting the register, and confirming reservations for the day.
Before anyone else on staff showed up to work, a loud knock comes from our locked front door. I go to see who’s there, and two elderly women want to come in and be seated for service. I tell them we open for service at 11:30, and they weren’t having it. They wanted to be seated NOW. They have a Groupon which was set to expire, and they demanded service. They insisted our website stated we open at 10:30. I told them we couldn’t have people in the restaurant while we were setting up, but we’d be happy to take care of them when we open. They asked me if I was a manager, I said no, and they replied with how I look too stupid to be a manager. They then proceeded to seat themselves in our outdoor patio area. Fine. They were out of my way, so I could proceed with my tasks.
Except they decided to start calling the restaurant. The phone would ring, I would go over to pick it up, they would swear at me, I would hang up, and they would do it again. After the third or fourth time, I just let the phone ring. The other old lady got up and just started pounding on the door to be let in while the other was on the phone, letting it ring.
At this point, the other waiter on schedule shows up and asks what’s going on. I explain, he goes out to tell them the same things I did, and they gave him the same treatment. 11:30 rolls around, the kitchen is up and ready for service, and we’re up and ready for service. The two old ladies barge in and shove their Groupon coupon in my coworker’s face, to which he replies, ‘Ma’am, our establishment does not accept Groupons. If you had read the name and address of the restaurant the Groupon is attached to, and compared it to the name of our restaurant on the front door you’ve been pounding on for the past hour, you would have discovered you are at the wrong restaurant.’
They slink off, but it doesn’t end there. They went online and posted a review about what a horrible restaurant experience they had, how we were infested with rats, and how we should all be fired.”
The Peasant Confronts The Mad Queen
‘My most memorable Karen experience happened over twenty years ago, but I still remember it because of how ridiculous and privileged this lady was. When I was sixteen years old I was a ‘Sandwich Artist’, the pretentious title given to Subway employees, who are allowed no art in the exacting execution of sandwich creation. The Subway I worked at was inside a gas station on the edge of a sleepy mountain town, one of the last stops for the Greyhound bus before it made the final 100-mile leg over the pass to Salt Lake City.
The biggest downside to being inside a gas station is that the Subway closed two hours before the gas station, so you couldn’t simply lock the doors to close down like a stand-alone restaurant. Most people understood the ‘closed’ sign on the counter, but sometimes as you were trying to clean up, people would interrupt you, trying to place an order. Most of the time this was not a big deal, although occasionally the bus was running late and a large, hungry, and travel-weary crowd would show up shortly after closing. If I had nowhere to be in the morning, I would sometimes offer to make them something cold based on what I still had out. However, I was often closing on school nights, anxious to get my homework done or study for a test before going to bed way too late. On those nights, I had to greet these customers with a friendly, ‘I’m sorry, but we’re closed.’
There was the occasional rude response, but this one lady particularly set the bar for being a privileged, self-important blowhard. I had been working the closing shift by myself on a school night. It was at least twenty minutes past closing time when I heard a car horn honking somewhere outside. I didn’t think much of it until the honking then started again right outside the drive-through window. The hours were displayed prominently on the window, so I went back to my cleaning. Then someone started knocking on the window. At first, I was annoyed, then concerned. Was this one of those robbery attempts they warned us about? Or was someone in trouble, unable to get out of their vehicle and come into the gas station for help? I would hate to be the guy that didn’t open the window for someone having an emergency. This was back before cell phones were quite as ubiquitous as they are now too. A bit begrudgingly, I set down what I was doing and walked over to the window, sliding it open a few inches. ‘Finally!’ the older woman cried, obviously exasperated. She then started placing an order. ‘Ma’am-‘ I attempted to interrupt. She kept ordering. ‘Ma’am!’ I said, louder this time. She stopped talking. ‘I’m sorry, but we’re closed.’ She stared at me slack-jawed.
‘I’m not ordering a lot,’ she spat out as I started closing the window. ‘Sorry,’ I repeated, closing the window and latching it before returning to my cleaning. I stepped into the back for some reason and when I returned to the front she had come inside and was standing at the counter. ‘You are very rude,’ she scolded. I kept cleaning. ‘I was talking to you!’ I looked up. I simply told her once again that we were closed. She obliviously told me that she just needed two sandwiches. I told her, ‘All the food is put away. I have a lot of cleaning to do. The gas station has food.’ I pointed towards the gas station freezer section. She looked at me with this unbelieving look, like I had just told her that I ran over her dog, but it was okay because she could go get another one. I made it a point to go in the back before the conversation carried any further.
I went to work washing dishes when suddenly the back door opens and in waltzes this lady like she owns the place. ‘You are really unbelievable, you know that?!’ She was standing in the doorway, her hands on her hips. ‘Twice you’ve walked away while I was talking to you! I was here right before closing waiting at the drive up when you turned it off, then you slammed the window in my face! This is ridiculous! Where is your manager!?’
‘She’ll be in at 5:30 in the morning.’
‘And what is your name!?’
“My name is John. John Smith. And you weren’t in drive-through right before closing, because I took the trash out fifteen minutes after closing, and you weren’t out there. Now please, I’ve got school in the morning.’
‘Well you are a liar, because I was out there waiting, and I’m going to talk to your manager, and you’ll be looking for another job. And don’t even think of applying at the nearby grocery store, because I’m the manager there, and I know everyone! You’ll be lucky if you can ever get a job around here again. You don’t know who you’re messing with!’
She stood there with a look of scornful pride on her face, like she’d just delivered the biggest burn in the history of burns. I just stood there and looked at her dryly, waiting for her to leave. She just stood there and looked at me incredulously, not leaving.
‘Well?’ she says, crossing her arms.
‘Well what?’ I ask in genuine confusion.
‘Are you gonna make my sandwiches?!’ She looked at me, surprisingly serious. She actually expected me to make these sandwiches. My mind was blown.
‘No. I’m not. No way.’ Again, she continued looking at me like I’d taken away her birthday. ‘No. Get out. Leave!’ I told her. She looked at me like I was insane. How would I, a peasant, disobey her orders? Who was I? I was nobody. I forced her out and closed the door. My manager didn’t even talk to me until our next shift together. She didn’t even consider this crazy lady’s ranting. She knew me too well. She told me the crazy story this lady had told, including that she’d bought six sandwiches earlier in the day and none of them had been made correctly. Seriously? Zero evidence to back this claim up. I talked to a friend who worked at that grocery store. The manager was a man. That poor woman was delusional, and it was so pathetic. I diagnosed that woman with an advanced case of Karen-itis.”
Nasty Bagel Bash
“Recently, I dealt with a new breed of Karen: a male Karen. You can call him Richard, Ronald, Ben, whatever you like. They exist, and they definitely feel more entitled simply because they are a man. I worked in a fast food place that served bagels, toasted and untoasted. My coworker was taking an order and didn’t correctly read the screen. Instead of toasting the bagel, she simply put it on the counter and continued with the order. I noticed the screen in my peripheral vision, so I threw the bagel in our oven. I then let my coworker know that she needed to pay better attention. All of a sudden, I hear a nasty male voice exclaim, ‘You lazy pieces of garbage, why don’t you do your stinking jobs?!’
At first, I thought this man must be joking, since he was being so extreme. But nope, he was serious. He shouted at us, ‘I have been waiting for my bagel for ten minutes, and you’re sitting there having a fun conversation with your friends you lazy piece of garbage!’
Now really it had been four minutes tops. I simply told this vicious man, ‘Sir, that bagel wasn’t my job. I actually just put it in because one of my coworkers forgot to. I am doing my job right now, which is completely separate from preparing the bagels/’
My calm and polite demeanor seemed to tick him off more. Between his flood of insults and curse words, he demanded that I get my manager for him. I told him that would not be a problem, and I went to go get my manager. I thought that this could finally be the end of this disgusting display of audacity. It wasn’t. About five minutes later, this angry customer literally stormed into the kitchen and started yelling in my face to get him more butter for his bagel. Again, I don’t work at the bagel station, but that wouldn’t convince him. This customer reach into our plastic ware and other supplies, all of which we had to throw out afterwards/ I, a tiny twenty-year-old girl, had to physically block this grown fifty-something man from sticking his dirty hands into our food and ruining it all. Next time, this guy really should have just stayed at home and toasted his own stupid bagel! I later found out that my manager did nothing for this guy. I was fuming when I learned this. This nasty man returned a couple days later, where we were forced by our managers to serve him, even when I protested. If this guy enters our shop even one more time, I am simply going to have to quit and leave the store.”
The Saddest Temper Tantrum
“I think my worst was one dinner party that had already caused a fight with the restaurant long before they had even turned up for the evening. It turns out the Karen who organized this dinner party had agreed to a set menu and a set price and booked out a room. But when it came closer to the day, she furiously argued over the phone that they had agreed to a lower price than what the restaurant had previously noted down. Knowing the kind of person we were now dealing with, was keep a careful track of everything the party drank, as they were only entitled to so many bottles. We even kept the empties visible at their end of the bar, to make it obvious to them how much they had drank. After a while, they went over the set amount, and those extra bottles started being added to the bill. And when it finally came to paying the bill, once again our Karen was furious that we were apparently over-charging her. Eventually, the people at her table (perhaps out of embarrassment) did their own count and agreed that they had drank as much as they did and would pay the extra.
Then came the taxi fiasco. The taxi-van arrived to take the now sulking Karen and friends home. It arrived in the car park and I announced it to the table. Unfortunately, they managed to take so long getting up and saying their goodbyes to one another that the taxi got bored and left. Karen was now apoplectic. It was our fault that she was the last to know these things, about the drinks and about the taxi. She was in charge of these people, and as their leader she expected constant reports.
So another taxi was hastily requested, and the table sat in silence, the mood sullied by her Royal Highness. The only sound was now coming from Karen herself, who, I kid you not, had taken to slowly and loudly slapping the dining table in front of her, over and over again, to make an extra big show of her impatience and frustration. Fortunately the rest of the restaurant was empty by now. She must have kept this act up for a good five minutes before her second car finally arrived. Needless to say, she never came back, and I’m sure she provides terrible reviews of the restaurant to this day, to anyone who will listen.”
Putting Her In Her Place
“I was a store manager at Starbucks for four years, and I had the pleasure of meeting a Karen in person. She came in and ordered a venti cappuccino. My assistant manager was at the bar with an experienced barista, and they were cranking out the beverages with no problems, until this one. This woman returned her drink to use three different times. At this point, she was calling the assistant manager and barista stupid and untrained, so I stepped in and called her to the other side of the counter, so they could catch up on the rest of the orders. I tell her she should not speak to my staff like that, that they are both experienced and are making the drink to Starbucks standard. This Karen told me that ‘Tiffany’ knew how to make her drink. Tiffany had recently been fired for not showing up to work twice as a supervisor, delaying the store opening and costing us money and customer satisfaction. I told this Karen, ‘If you want two shots and cup of foam, you have to order it that way. There is a standard recipe for cappuccinos.’
Karen continued to berate us for our service and her drink being wrong, so when she finally got out everything she wanted to say in her rant, I asked her to go elsewhere for her coffee, as we were clearly not able to serve her like she wanted. She was not expecting that response, as clearly she was accustomed to having her butt kissed, but I was not going to let my staff be treated like that. I don’t remember if she left in a huff, as I was heading over to call my district manager, to let her know I threw someone out and asked them not to return. I got major kudos from the staff and the customers who were within earshot, for standing up to a bully and defending my staff. Everyone knew I was in the right, and at no point were we combative with her. My district manager knew I had to be pushed to the edge to make a decision like that, and even had she not been okay with it, I had a lot of support to back me up.”
She Hit The Nuclear Button
“Oh boy, do I have an experience to share with you guys! The year was 2001, and I was in college. I worked a part-time job as a waitress in order to pay the bills, and eat discounted food. I hadn’t worked there for long, but I was promoted to lead waitress within about a month. One day I was working the breakfast shift, and my section of around six tables had cleared after the morning rush. I was performing the endless task of cleaning when Karen walked in with her husband and a young boy. The family seated themselves in my section. I went over to take their drink order as happily as humanly possible. I could tell Karen was in a sour mood, so I left to put their order in and get drinks. To my utter shock and dismay, in came a tsunami of customers. One by one each of them sat at tables, all in my section. My previously empty section was now completely full all at the same time. One of the worst things that can happen to a waitress is to be ‘double sat’, meaning two tables that are seated at the same time. This causes problems with timeliness. That day I had six tables seated at the same time. The table directly behind Karen was a group of four older gentlemen who were regulars. They came in every day, and I knew they would only be ordering drinks, so I quickly went to mix four Arnold Palmer’s. The regulars were happy, but as I turned to start another task, Karen stopped me to ask where the heck HER drinks were. I had totally forgotten to get their drinks, and I just brought out the guys’ drinks. I was genuinely in the wrong, so I apologized profusely and told her that I would run to get their drinks right away. Unfortunately, that wasn’t acceptable for Karen. I am a very chill person. It’s incredibly hard to trigger me. Hidden under all that chill lies a nuclear button. It’s tough to find, but it’s there. Karen didn’t just push my nuclear button, she hit it with a hand grenade.
Karen: ‘Why didn’t you bring our drinks first? You’re prejudiced towards me, aren’t you?! You got their drinks first because they’re white, didn’t you?!’
For some important context, Karen was of Native American descent, and I’m white.
Me: ‘I’m so sorry, I was in a rush and forgot, I will get them right now!’
Karen: ‘No! I want you to answer WHY, you stupid little white loser!Where is my family’s food and drinks?! My son is hungry!’
At this point I realized that she was doing this to get free food.
Me: ‘Well ma’am, if you feel that way, I think you should leave the restaurant.’
Karen: ‘No! I WANT to SPEAK to THE MANAGER!’
Me: ‘I AM THE MANAGER!’
Karen: ‘Well, I want to complain! My son is hungry and this restaurant is disgusting and you are the absolute worst! ‘
Me: ‘You need to leave my restaurant now.’
Karen: ‘I will leave, and I will tell everyone in the world not to come here because of you and your discrimination!’
Me: ‘GET OUT NOW!’
Karen then stormed out, cursing me the whole way. I was so angry that I was shaking. When I looked down, I realized that her husband and son were still sitting at the table, looking ashamed. I felt horrible that I said all that in front of a young boy. They had not said one word during the altercation, and I could tell from the look that this wasn’t an isolated incident. I apologized to the husband and son, and then walked back to the kitchen, where I was met by stunned coworkers. They didn’t know I had a nuclear side. I remember one of them whispering to a coworker to never cross me. After the incident, the rest of my five tables were incredibly nice. I also got good tips that day. As long as I live, I will never forget that altercation. I really hope the mother worked out her problems for her son. I’ve encountered a few other Karens since then, but none of them even come close to that woman.”
Worst Time For Karen To Rush In
“It was Saturday rush hour. I was the only one at the front counter, taking non-stop orders from both registers. The customers were starting to get annoyed with how long I was taking, and I was getting people yelling at me through the speaker, asking me if I could help with drive-thru orders. This family of two boys, a mother, and a father come up to the register. As I take their order, the mother keeps changing hers. I keep repeating it back to her and she changes it entirely. Eventually, the register starts ringing because it’s old and it doesn’t like more than fifteen changes on an order. I have to delete the entire order and put it in again.
Finally, I’ve got her order down, have repeatedly read it back to her, and I’ve sent it in. They stand at that register, waiting for me to hand them their drinks while the line piles up and some leave. They aren’t moving, meaning I can’t take more orders. I take the liberty to finally make the other drink orders. Eventually, I just tell them straight up to get seated, because I can’t hand them their drinks. They sit down at the oval table. I manage to make their drinks just as they get their food, and everything is set for them, or so I thought. Eventually, the mother comes up asking for a refill. I have more drinks to give out. She stands there, vocally complaining loudly about how I should just serve her first. I glance at her husband, and he is just silently cringing in his seat, looking at his food while his kids stare at the TV.
I grabbed her drink, gave an apologetic glance to the customers waiting at the register, and fixed her a drink as fast as possible. Things were again fine until she came back up. She wanted to change the channel because her son wanted to watch a basketball game. I had three more groups waiting to order. I asked her to give me a moment, but she shouted no. I walked out by the television, side stepping the new people up to order and changed it for her. Her husband wouldn’t even look at me. I changed it and asked her not to ask for me again when I was busy, unless it were completely necessary. Before this, I asked if they wanted refills or anything like that, so I knew they were good. Of course, a few minutes later she was again loudly proclaiming her need for a refill.
I told the lady to hush up as nicely as I could, as I told her she was disturbing the other patrons. She continued whining about the whole crew that worked to make that food she was eating. I wish I would have chewed her out now, but back then I was a bit more timid. Finally, they left. Of course not before she looked at me in the eye as she loudly told her children just to drop their napkins on the floor, because only trash would pick up other trash. The kids listened blindly and they left. The husband didn’t apologize, but his solemn and dismayed face was enough to show he regretted ever marrying that wench. A sweet couple came in only a few minutes after having been inside and when they left, she dropped a five dollar bill in the tip jar with a napkin. I thought nothing much of it and couldn’t get around to seeing the napkin before she was already dumping her trash. I can’t remember what was on it, but it was super encouraging and sweet. That Karen was banned from the restaurant, and I didn’t clean up the mess in the end because my manager wouldn’t let me. Everyone else was very nice to me after witnessing the Karen in her act of rage. Nobody has the right to be that nasty to a random stranger, no matter what they are going through.”
“I Felt Like Hiding Behind The Counter And Crying”
“I was a hostess at a restaurant who also took care of takeout orders. Usually, I would be the only one up front working, and I’d get slammed with having to seat people as well as process takeout order transactions. It would get so bad sometimes that I just felt like hiding behind the counter and crying because of how stressed out I was. A woman came in for a takeout order, and she was at the counter waiting. While I get another order, a customer comes in, complaining that there is a car parked way too close to him. I apologized to the customer, but the takeout woman said that was her car. That customer goes off on her, asking how she could park so recklessly, as well as throwing several insults her way. I look out the window to see what this male Karen customer was complaining about. This man must have been an incompetent driver, because there was so much space in between him and the takeout woman. In addition to this male Karen berating the poor takeout woman, I have multiple customers walking in, ready for me to give them their orders.
I tried to calm this man down, but he was going on and on about how unprofessional all of this was and how he had never been treated this way. His wife eventually comes in as well, merely fueling his angry tirade. I tried my best to tune him out and get this poor woman her takeout order. While I do this, the male Karen and his wife were able to get his car out of the parking space without any problem. Seriously?! This man and his wife come in making a big fuss over not being able to take their car out of their space without even TRYING to in the first place, and all for what? Just to turn my day into a nightmare and to give this poor takeout woman a tough time. Honestly, there’s parking spaces that are tighter than that, but you’re such an incompetent and insecure driver that you can’t get out of a parking space that gives you enough room for a massive truck?!”
No Escaping Her Power Fantasy
“When I was a server at Dave & Buster’s, I had a group of four charming women sit at my table. They were rude and condescending from the get-go. It was almost as if they took pleasure in bossing me around. After giving them a few minutes to look over the menu, I stop by and ask if they want to get dinner started or if they need a few minutes. They say they are ready. Each woman orders her dinner, there are a few questions and modifications, but nothing too crazy. Then I get to the last woman. She’s been awfully quiet. She doesn’t look up for the menu. She frowns and purses her lips and turns the page. I stare at her. She turned the page. I kept staring, server pad in hand, pen poised and ready to write. The other ladies have returned to their gossip. This woman, on the other hand commits the entire menu to memory or something and starts to flip another page. I told her I would give her a few more minutes, but she interrupted me to suddenly ask how the salmon was. I told her it was good, and she continued to ask me about the salmon while I noticed a couple just seat themselves. Nothing stresses a server out more than an ignored table that they cannot get to.
She turns the page and clicks her tongue. She is taking her sweet time. Out of my right peripheral vision, I see a guest at another table finish off their drink. Table 32 just got their food, did they remember not to put the fried onions on the BBQ burger? Did they bring out all the sides of ranch? They’re gonna be halfway through their meal by the time I get over there. ‘How’s the surf and turf?’ She says.
‘Oh that’s my favorite!’ I say. ‘Do you still need some time? I can come back in a few minutes -‘
And then that woman looks up from her menu and locks her evil eyes with mine. She reaches one bracelet clad arm out and grand my forearm. ‘You will stay right here,’ she said. So I did. I continued answering her questions and entertaining her complex, while my tables wondered what the heck I was doing. This woman had some weird thing about being the center of attention! Finally, I helped her pick out her dinner and I absolutely hated her for it. That was six years ago, when I was eighteen. I was a child, and I was treated so poorly in that restaurant that I’ve become really mean as a bartender. I’ve lashed out and really hurt peoples feelings because I take everything way too seriously, even when they’re joking. Looking back on things now, it was people like that Karen that made me some angry and tough, especially when it came to customers that I didn’t know. It was an effort to no longer be pushed around or walked all over.”
Karen Saves The Day?!
“Being in the service industry, which is where the term ‘Karen’ originated, I have quite a few experiences in dealing with Karens. It was the day before Thanksgiving, and I was working an evening shift at the restaurant. At this particular restaurant, we were closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas, so I was glad to have the next day off to spend with my boyfriend. A Karen comes in and sits in my section with her son. She proceeds to order a Filet, Medium Well. One thing that you should know about a Filet done Medium Well is that since the cut of steak is so thick, it’s best to ‘butterfly’ the steak (cut it down the center most of the way to thin it out) because otherwise it will either not get cooked or get burned on the outside. Karen insisted on not having it butterflied. Alright, no problem, I don’t cook the steak myself, but I’ll make sure they know. Long story short, the steak comes out, and she ends up throwing a fit. ‘You guys never cook my steak right! Those cooks must be incompetent and must not know how to read English, blah blah blah!’ Her blatant prejudice made me see red, and I walked away to get a manager. Otherwise, I would have told her off.
I walked to the back server-employee area and was pretty upset, so I texted my boyfriend about it. He replied that we would talk about it when I got home, and that kept me going throughout my shift. I get home, eager to talk about my day and let off some steam, and I wait forever. My boyfriend sat there for three hours playing his video game, completely oblivious that I was in the room. By the time he got up to talk to me, it was about fifteen minutes before his typical bedtime. I was beyond irritated at this point so I told him how I had been waiting for hours, but he could forget it. He stormed off to his room, slamming the door, then came back out into the living room to proceed to yell at me for a good fifteen minutes. Keep in mind, this is the late evening before Thanksgiving Day.
My boyfriend had a terrible habit of ruining every holiday, or instigating an argument before each holiday, in order to sour them. Suffice to say, every holiday with this guy was terrible. So that night, when I went to bed, I had already decided that I wasn’t going to spend Thanksgiving with his family the next day. I slept in and didn’t get out of bed until I heard him and his daughter leave. When I got up, I looked at the text on my cell phone from my boyfriend, and it said ‘We’re at my parents, here is the address, come over whenever you’re ready!’ to which I responded, ‘No, thanks, I’m good.’ I told him that he yelled at me last night for fifteen minutes, and I didn’t want to be around him.
He tried to deny that he ever did such a thing to me, which was beyond absurd. I stopped texting him and spent the holiday away from his family. After that incident, we made an agreement to try to restart the relationship. The first step of that was me moving myself into the spare bedroom, and we would only hang out for ‘dates’, rather than all the time. It was deathly quiet, and lonely. The next day, I went and got an alarm clock radio so it wouldn’t be so quiet all the time. And after that first day, the rest was history. I was so much happier alone in that room, sitting on a mattress on the floor, with nothing but my music to keep me company, than I had ever been in his presence. And because of Karen, that relationship ended a lot sooner than it would have. She instigated the initial conflict in the first place! This doesn’t excuse any Karen-like behavior, though. They really all need to just stay at home and stop bothering everyone.”