Going out to eat should be relaxing, but not if there's a Karen on the loose!
People on Reddit and Quora share their experiences with a Karen at a restaurant. Content has been edited for clarity.
"The restaurant where I work is like a slow-fast food place if that makes sense. We have a drive-thru because it gets us more business.
We only have about six tables in total. Three window seats, three tables with four chairs each, one oval-shaped table with about four seats on each side, and then five bar seats next to the register. Now I've said we are small and I mean small. Including me, there are around three or four people working during one shift. One on the grill, one on the fryer, and me upfront managing both registers.
This took place around a year ago so no masks, the lobby was open, and it was a Saturday rush hour. Or maybe I should say six-hour rush. From open at eleven am to about five pm we were non-stop. Usually, that is one shift so imagine my state. Milkshakes take longer, so drinks were piling up as I ran around as the only one up front, taking non-stop orders from both registers.
This family of two boys, a mother, and a father came up to the register. As I took their order, the mother kept changing hers. I kept 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 15 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 past due drinks. Eventually, I just tell them straight out to get seated because I can't hand them their drinks. They sit down at the oval table.
I managed to make their drinks just as they got their food and everything was set for them, or so I thought. Usually, I'd go around asking anyone if they needed refills or some more ranch or condiments we keep refrigerated. However, I can't do that during a rush.
Eventually, the mother came up asking for a refill. I have more drinks to give out. So she stands there vocally complaining loudly about how I should just serve her first. My coworker's face in the back were the same as the customers sitting right next to her as she does this right in their ears, completely annoyed. I glanced at her husband and he was just silently cringing in his seat looking at his food while his kids stare at the TV.
I grabbed her drink, gave a sorry glance to the customers waiting to order their food at the register, and fixed her a drink as fast as possible. Thank god I didn't have to ring her up as they are free where I work.
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 said give me a moment. She shouted no. Everyone was done in this restaurant and my sweet customer service voice was at a deadpan for her but of course her highness couldn't tell.
I managed to get all the orders in and people walked in as soon as I walked out to help her. I would of course asked my manager in the back to help when I was taking orders but she didn't know how to work the Roku. I walked out there side-stepping the new people up to order and changed it for her. Her husband wouldn't even look at me and he was facing me, which I think was a little sad.
I changed it and ask her to not again ask for me again when I was busy unless it were completely necessary. Before this, I had 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.
My manager was mad in the back and I kept her back there. She only got in a sentence to the lady before I told her to go back. Stacked-up orders and a loud baby is like a 12 hour flight with a baby crying next to you the whole flight for her. Either way, I wasn't looking to escalate things.
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. Yes, she was a blond middle-aged woman."
"I was a store manager at Starbucks for four years, and I had the pleasure of meeting a Karen. 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, until this one. One return, okay, no problem. Two returns, okay, but there is no way this one is wrong. Three returns… at this point, she was calling the assistant and the barista stupid and untrained, so I stepped in and called her over to the other end of the counter so they could catch up with the drinks that are now piling up.
I told her she should not speak to my staff like that, they are both experienced and are making the drink to Starbucks standard. Here, what the woman wanted was us to put shots in a cup, then proceed to skim the foam off of all of our milk pitchers to fill the cup the rest of the way.
'Tiffany knows how to make my drink!' The woman claimed.
Tiffany had recently been fired for no-showing for work two times as a supervisor, delaying the store opening and costing us money and customer satisfaction.
Me: 'If you want two shots and a cup of foam, you have to order it that way. A cappuccino is part foam and part liquid milk, which is why they made it the way they did, there is a standard recipe for cappuccinos.'
She continued to berate us for our service and her drink being wrong. So when she finally got out all that she needed to get out, I asked her to go elsewhere for her coffee, as clearly we were not able to serve her as she wanted. She was not expecting that response, clearly, she was accustomed to having her butt kissed, and I was not going to let my staff be treated like that. I don’t remember if she left in a huff, I was headed 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 there and the customers who were within earshot for standing up to a bully and defending my staff, who I knew were in the right, and at no point were 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 ok with it, I had a lot of support to back me up."
"I once worked at Killer Burger and we were crazy busy. This very demanding woman asked for the extra sauce after I brought her food. She was sitting way outside and far from the kitchen, so it was a minor inconvenience. No big deal, but it would have been preferable she asked before I brought the food. Then she followed me into the restaurant to stupidly ask for something that was on the serve-yourself counter. I was getting annoyed with her by this point, because I'm pretty sure the idiot had asked for two things instead of being more thoughtful when it was painfully obvious we were packed. She could have gone into the restaurant and waited by the counter for the sauces and other things she wanted. This is after all how literally everyone got their extras at this place.
A lot of the things at Killer Burger we offer are more self-serve, as in get your own freaking ketchup and salt. Really not a great place. Anyway, I was getting annoyed with this 'serve me only' woman's attitude and I was sort of aggressive the next time she was bugging me for things she had walked right past to ask me for. This crazy woman interrupted me from taking another person their food so she could ask for more stuff when she could have and should have waited her turn when I got back. She reported me to the manager and nothing happened. Like most people's ridiculous complaints at restaurants.
I'm not 100 percent if she qualified as a Karen, but she definitely thought she was a more important customer than other people around her. I wasn't being the best waitress at that moment but I was also the host (did I mention how horrible this place was?), and she was really unaware and had a terrible attitude to begin with. I'm pretty sure she didn't even thank me when I brought her things. At least have the decency to thank someone if they did extra for you."
"About eight years ago, I was starting a new job. I needed it. I had been laid off of a very good paying job about a year earlier and was working an 'in-between job' to get by until something better came along and this was it. I’m just a waiter but as anyone who works in the service industry knows not all waitering jobs are alike. In the right place, I can bring home over a grand over the course of four nights.
Anyway 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, confirming reservations for the day. As I was new and still figuring out where things were and went, I came in about half an hour early to get ready for our 11:30 opening.
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 told them we opened 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. 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 demanded to speak to a manager, told them I was the only one here, then they asked me if I was a manager.
I said no and they replied with, '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 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, hang up and then do it again. After the third or fourth time, I just let the phone ring, and 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.
Mind you, even if I did let them in the cooks weren't even in to start their own setup and prep.
At this point, the other waiter on schedule showed up and asked what's going on. I explain he goes out to tell them the same things I did and they gave him the same work over treatment of yelling, demands, and insults. How dare we deny them service. We're going to get fired, they’re going to have our jobs.
Then 11:30 rolled around, the kitchen was up and ready for service, we’re up and ready for service. The two old ladies barge in and shove their Groupon coupon in my co-worker'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.
Doesn't end there. They went onto Zagat and posted a review about as long as this post over what a horrible restaurant experience they had, we were infested with rts, the place was filthy and we should all be fired and shut down."
"Every time my husband comes home from anywhere, he has a story to tell. He’s always going on about how the server at a fast food place treated another customer better than him and he complains to the manager, or - this one happens a lot - he had to wait too long in a cashier line at a grocery store and he just leaves his stuff where he is and walks out, making a big scene.
This is my favorite: a buffet restaurant he loves to go to put in some plug-ins (the little outlet air freshener things) and he says that makes all the food taste like air freshener. So, he went off about how he eats there like once a week, but he won’t be back as long as they have those plug-ins. Going on and on about how they’ll miss his money - like $28 a month is going to break them.
I just look at him when he tells me this stuff like, 'Okay- good for you.'
And he wonders why I don’t like to go anywhere with him. He’s embarrassing."
"Sadly, I am related to a lot of Karens. One time I was at a Texas Roadhouse with my grandmother and the waiter, who was a boy around my age, was serving us just fine. He was polite and the food got out to us fast. Every time he left, my grandmother would sneer and say 'He is looking at only you and not even bothering to make eye contact with me.'
Which wasn't true. Then she later said, 'That boy is filling up your glass more often than he is filling up mine!'
That was true but only because I was drinking more than she was. Then finally she finished her food, she took over an hour to eat her salad, and she refused to leave the boy a tip, so I had to take whatever was left in my wallet and leave it as a tip to apologize.
When this was happening, my grandpa was in a nursing home, and yesterday we went to the grocery store and she kept complaining about how she has to take care of him and spend money on him, and bring food to him. The only reason I hang out with her is because she gives me free food and she promised me most of her stuff in her will because I'm the only one who hangs out with her. Gee, I wonder why."
"I was shopping in the Walmart grocery section. A ‘Karen’ with two young children had her cart parked against the shelves on one side. I needed something that was blocked by the cart. She was shopping up and down the aisle, bringing things to her cart, and then walking back down the aisle. I was politely waiting next to her cart, waiting for her to move it.
One of the times she came back to it, I even said, 'I need something behind your cart.'
She ignored me. She then turned her back and started walking to the other end of the aisle again. I had been waiting there for about five minutes, so I pushed her cart about a foot or so, so I could reach my item. With that, she turned and screamed, 'You touched my cart!'
I should mention this was before the current events happening in the world. She proceeded to run back toward me yelling at the top of her lungs that I had no right to touch her cart. I told her I just moved it to get an item and told her to calm down.
She screamed, 'No, you calm down, you’re causing a big scene.'
She proceeded to walk away, screaming all the way that I touched her cart. Always fun at Walmart."
"Was married to a male Karen. Everything and I mean everything, could set him off.
We were at a local taproom and his iPhone automatically connected to the Wi-Fi. Keep in mind, he had full bars on our cell service. The Wi-Fi was being wonky and wasn’t working. The manager, a super nice guy, comes over and asks how we are doing, while he washes some glasses in the dish pit on the other side of the bar. The following conversation ensues, keep in mind, my husband is super irritated at this made-up problem because our cell service is working just fine and he can literally just turn off the Wi-Fi:
Husband: 'Your Wi-Fi is freaking trash.'
Manager: 'I’m sorry. We recently upgraded our internet, and Cox is sending us a new modem. It’s supposed to be here this week.'
Husband: 'If you say you have Wi-Fi, you should make sure it actually works.'
Manager: 'I know. I’m sorry. I’d be happy to restart the modem to see if that helps.'
Mt husband then ignores him and continues to talk under his breath about a made-up issue.
This was my life for almost five years. The sense of entitlement was frustrating enough in public, but more so at home. I had apologized to more servers, retail workers, neighbors, and random people in public for him in five years than the rest of my life outside him."
"My sister-in-law is a Karen, and her name is very close to 'Karen.' One of her most recent masterpieces:
Her daughter (my niece) had a big choir performance one night. My family, her family, and my father-in-law and mother-in-law were going to meet for dinner, and then go to the show. My neighbor owns a very nice Italian restaurant in town, and he arranged for us to have a big table ready when we got there. We (my family of four) were halfway to the restaurant when my wife decides to check in with her sister with a text message. My sister-in-law (Karen) immediately called back and casually said she's running late (she is ALWAYS late) and it would be best if we drove to their house to pick them up. To this day, I don't understand how that will help us when she's already late and we had a rather tight window to have dinner.
But Karen throws a fit when my wife pushes back, so we turned around, picked them up, and drove to the restaurant. We sat down, and she scanned the menu, scanned, asked the waitress questions, tells her a couple of times she's not ready to order and needs a few minutes. Meanwhile, we were all openly reminding her that we are on a tight window. Doesn't matter! Karen will not be rushed. It should be noted my neighbor's restaurant has a single-page menu that doesn't change, and Karen has been to this restaurant many times. By the time she decides what she wants to order, we realize we now will not have time to eat.
She gives all sorts of nonsense to the waitress demanding to-go boxes for our meals that are just now being served. My neighbor then came to our table to figure out what was going on, and she immediately stood up to try to explain what was going on, and threw the waitress under the bus. As we were leaving, I pulled my neighbor and the waitress aside to tell them what really happened, profusely apologize, tell them it absolutely was not their fault at all."
"My mother is a Karen. One day, we were going through a KFC drive-through right, and we ordered our meal and my mum decided to pull out a used coupon. Now my mother knew it was used. She gave it to the cashier and the cashier said it had already been used. My sister and I just watched as all of this unfold. She started yelling and swearing at the cashier, explaining how she was going to get fired. She drove to the next window and told the other employee to get the manager and that she wanted to complain.
The manager walked to the window and behold, it was the cashier that declined my mother's coupon. My mother was furious; she then proceeded to ask where was the real manager, and she said 'I am the manager.'
They really wanted my mother gone so they just gave her the food for free and also gave us free wings. My sister and I mouthed a 'sorry' as we drove away with the food.
But living with her is an actual nightmare. My parents fight all the time; she usually starts it and my father usually has to apologize or otherwise police are called for no reason, fake suicide attempts are made to scare me and my siblings so we don't leave her and many separations. I really don't know why my father is still with her
So basically living with her is an absolute nightmare."
"I dated a Karen. We went out to dinner once and her food didn’t look like the picture so she demanded it be sent back, I’m pretty polite so I waited to eat. I swear they sent the exact plate back, bur she lost it and demanded a manager. At this point, I started eating. The manager comes over, while the entire restaurant's looking at us like 'What are you doing?'
She just lays into him on how it doesn’t look like the picture. I placed a twenty on the table to cover mine and slipped the waitress a 10, mouthed an apology, and left. Never did find out what happened. I drove to the restaurant too so no idea how she got home. Blocked her number as I left."