Come on, Karen, the world doesn't revolve around you!
People on Quora share the deplorable interactions they've had with Karens. Content has been edited for clarity.
There’s No Age Limit On Bullies
“I’ve worked with many a Karen over the years.
One was a major thorn in my side, during the three years I worked in her district. In addition to her speech therapy license, she was special education coordinator for her district. That made her a medium-sized fish in a very small pond, but still, she relished her title and said it loudly and proudly whenever meeting a parent.
Kathie, oops I mean Karen, just loved to make others look bad, even when they were doing nothing wrong. I lost count of the times I got calls from my supervisor because Karen had tattled on me over something ridiculous.
My supervisor knew Karen was a petty little brat, and usually started the conversation with ‘I really hate to be calling you about this at all, but since the principal called me, we have to discuss this.’
We’d have our two minute conversation, and that was the end of the matter.
Every day, Karen would go into the principal’s office with a list of ‘items to discuss.’ Some were updates on situations with students, or summaries of recent conversations with parents, but most were complaints about other teachers. My office was right next to the principal’s, so I occasionally overheard bits and pieces.
‘Mrs. 1st Grade allows students to wander around during the pledge,’ ‘Mrs. 2nd Grade is consistently 2–3 minutes late getting the class back from PE,’ ‘Barb was reading a newspaper in the office.’
Yes, she actually tattled on me for looking at a newspaper.
During case conferences with parents, I handled the paperwork. I would point out one section requiring a signature, pause while they signed, then explain the next section where a signature was required. Karen just loved to jump in and loudly point out the next section before they were finished signing the first, glaring at me as though I had forgotten it, which I hadn’t
One of the countless ridiculous ways Karen tried to make me look bad:
There was a young child having some behavioral problems. I had chatted with the teacher and parent about setting up some interventions in the classroom. I gave the teacher an envelope to send home with the child, seeking the parent’s permission to provide intervention service. I told Karen just to keep her apprised of the situation and of my activities. What does the shady lady do? Went to the teacher and demanded she remove the envelope from the child’s folder and tore it up! I had no idea until a few weeks later, when I called the mother, to ask if she still wanted me to work with her son. She said she was still looking to receive and sign the Consent letter! I asked the teacher about it. She told me Karen had come in the same day I gave her the envelope, and asked for it. So we both wound up looking like fools to the parent!
The agency I work for had a difficult time getting staff to work in Karen’s district, because of Karen. I asked several times to be transferred out. My pleas fell on deaf ears until I gave them a written statement that the stress of working with a belittling bully was having a detrimental effect on my health. I pointed out I had already used four sick days at that point in the year, which was three more than my average for the previous several years. I mentioned that when I started the job, I was not taking any prescription medications, but I was now on three, and had recently been diagnosed with a chronic condition that is in part stress-related. They transferred me. A few years later, I heard that Karen retired. I bet the school is a much more pleasant place now.”
She Needs To Be Kicked Off The Flight
“I remember one time when my family and I were making a trip to America for a few weeks, and we were on a relatively new plane that was of a different layout than we were used to. My mom was sat next to me at the window seat and I was in the aisle seat. The only problem was there was a Karen sitting in the seat in front of me. My mom needed the bathroom mid-flight, and normally as a courtesy, if the person in the window seat needs to use the lavatory, the person in the aisle seat gets up to let them out, right? So I got up and let my mom out, and as she was passing through the seats she needed to grip on to something, and normally that’s the back of the seat.
Suddenly, since Karen thought it was me who pulled on the seat, she got up and turned around and yelled at us saying, ‘HOW DARE YOU PULL MY SEAT. KEEP YOUR HANDS TO YOURSELF, YOU PUNK!’ to which my mom replied, ‘I’m sorry, but that was NOT my daughter who pulled the seat, it was me. Don’t yell at her for that please.’
And she said, ‘I don’t care who it was; just don’t lay a hand on my seat or I’ll tell the attendants that you’re harassing me.’
She huffed and death stared at me as she sat back down.
Afterward I got back into the seat to wait for my mom, and after she came back I once again got out of the seat and into the aisle to let her through, my mom tried as best as she could not to touch the woman’s seat, slipped through and sat down and DIDN’T touch it.
Karen apparently still felt something and turned around just to yell once again saying, ‘If you touch my seat one more time, I will call the attendants and kick you off this flight!”
My poor mom who was simply trying to get back into her seat without falling over was just sat there in disbelief. My mom tries very hard to avoid confrontation, so she apologized and sat down for the rest of the ride, but we both were just shocked as this woman was being so horrible to us.”
Now She Has To Deal With It
“I am a paid singer for a local community place. I am the tenor section leader. There’s also a paid soprano section leader and another paid soprano that is the Cantor (leads in singing basically). So, it’s the three of us. We are the only singers during this time (The choir was stopped during this time and the HR person has said the choir won’t be back until at least the new year).
Now, we actually have a band. The music director is well-loved and has put together an awesome music program, which has gotten tons of compliments. He plays the organ and keyboards and is incredibly talented. We have a paid drummer and a paid bass guitarist. Our lead guitarist just decided the current events was too much for him, so we will be hiring a new lead soon. Then there is this Karen lady. She plays acoustic guitar. She’s a volunteer (and plays about as well as a volunteer). The music director puts up with her because she loves playing, and he just turns down her volume, so the wrong notes aren’t heard as much. Karen is also a member of the choir. Since the choir has been temporarily ‘disbanded,’ she hasn’t been around all that much and hasn’t been playing with the band at all. The district has been quite focused on controlling who plays and how close everyone is and whether we wear masks, etc. through this whole world event.
Anyway, things are going well and we’ve got a good system worked out. We wear masks and are physically distant from each other by a minimum of six feet. All is well. The other day, the music director gets a frantic phone call from our HR director at the church asking if he knew this Karen woman and if he had directed her to call the HR director of the district! The music director replied he did know who the lady was but that he hadn’t talked to her at all recently. He was then told this Karen had gone over his head as well as the church’s HR director (who he was talking with) and had complained directly to the top district HR person, stating she believed that she (Karen) should be not only playing in the band full-time but she also should be a full-time cantor. Karen obviously has a much higher opinion of her abilities than anyone with actual knowledge of her abilities does
After a couple of conversations with the HR people, the issue was resolved and the upshot is that not only is Karen NOT going to be a cantor, but she also worked her way OUT of even being able to volunteer as a member of the band. She totally shot herself in the foot and accidentally eliminated her own position in the band. She then made a direct ultimatum to the music director and said she wouldn’t be back until all the ‘non-believers’ were gone. The music director told us this past Sunday that Karen wouldn’t be back. The three of us that are the “non-believers” are the drummer, me (tenor section leader and also a back-up cantor), and the lead cantor (a soprano) who has been there for a LONG time and is the music director’s most trusted friend there. The music director said he is not getting rid of the most-loved cantor, the best drummer and best section leader he has in favor of a moderate guitar player who thinks she’s a gift to the qoura.
Sorry, Karen, but you made your own bed and now have to sleep in it.”
She Should Have Just Come Down
“I had my first virtual Karen experience today. So about three weeks ago, I signed up to be a sitter on Rover.com: Book Dog Boarding, Dog Walking and More. Rover is a website where you can sign up to become or find a dog walker, dog sitter, house sitter, etc. I signed up to walk dogs and do house sitting. The Karen was my very first request – she messaged me asking if I could come and give her dog a 30-minute walk. I said yes, and we scheduled an appointment for 9:00 am a few days later.
I messaged her the night before to confirm our appointment for the next day, the morning of to let her know I was on my way, and once I had arrived. When I got there, I realized she lived in an apartment building and had given me no unit number, so I couldn’t knock on her door. I messaged her several times to let her know I was waiting outside, but once 20 minutes had passed with no response, it was clear she was a no-show, so I went home. I heard back from her for the first time today, asking if I had been paid for our initial appointment she failed to show up to because she apparently overslept. I said I was, because clients pay in advance and she did not submit a formal cancellation.
She then proceeded to ask me for a full refund, and when I politely declined because I spent my time and gas money to drive to her home and wait outside just for her to not come out, she then asked if I could walk her dog this week, but for free, to make up for it. I told her she was welcome to schedule an appointment with me based on my current availability, but I was not going to do it for free after I did not receive the courtesy of a cancellation last time. This is when the Karen came out – she got very disrespectful, started giving me unsolicited (and quite frankly, terrible business advice on the basis of her experience working for housecleaning service, saying I ‘shouldn’t turn away clients just for a penny,’ and bragging about how she was looking for a weekly dog walker but she will be looking elsewhere (basically insinuating that I missed out on the chance to be stood up by her on a weekly basis).
Needless to say, she did not like my response. In sum, I told her I do this sidegig for money, so if clients are just going to waste my time, then I will absolutely turn them away, and that if she was not feeling up for our appointment that day, she could have simply cancelled that morning and she would have received a refund. But I was not going to make the trip and fill a spot on my schedule twice, only to be paid once by someone whose circumstances were not of my making, I don’t need to be told how to run my business, because I have so many bookings that I actually wouldn’t even have time to walk her dog every week anyway. I then got a gut feeling that after reading my response, she was going to leave a nasty review on my profile (as Karens do), so luckily I called customer service and had her blocked from leaving me a review of any sort.”
The Book Was More Hurtful Than Helpful
“My former sister-in-law is named Karen. I think she spawned the term.
In addition to being a privileged woman with a McMansion (she got to pick her ‘colors’!) in a tony suburb, an SUV, a husband who is in upper management, two boats (one for lakes, one for the ocean, just in case) plus a Sea-Doo (and a separate truck to haul them, they would ruin the family SUVs), an in-ground kidney-shaped pool, hair highlights (and lowlights, for ‘dimension’) she is a Karen subset: one of those ‘fitness’ Karens; the ones that are a perfect size two, run around in expensive sneakers and leggings and moan about how they ‘ran five miles at 4:00 AM today, but, darn it, the gym doesn’t open until 6=six! I had to wait!’
She washes her kitchen floor every night before bed and is the first one to tell you how important it is to wake up with all the chores done. Of course, her life is perfect; married 20 years with 4 stellar children.
After my divorce from her brother, she attempted to maintain a relationship with me. We agreed to go to brunch. I’m older than she is, and not only was I dealing with Life After Divorce, I was in menopause and gained 20 pounds (you learn you just can’t eat as much as you’re used to). I didn’t broach the subject.
Brunch was pleasant enough, considering I listened to far more about proper exercise and protein consumption than I cared to. Second to her health regimen is her awful neighbors.
A few months later, we arranged another brunch. This time, it was a day or two after my birthday.
Karen surprised me with a nicely wrapped present. I opened it. It was a fad diet book!
She told me, ‘Ordinarily, I wouldn’t give someone a book about weight loss, but I knew you’d appreciate it. I gave the same book to Mark (another overweight relative) and he’s lost 10 pounds already! You just have to make sure your protein consumption is…’
She proceeded to explain the diet. I was furious. I made it through brunch, but I pitched the book directly into the oversized trash bin as we left the restaurant. I hoped she saw me, but apparently didn’t.
As if she weren’t a more perfect-than-thou boor already. I deleted her from social media and blocked her number.”
“So, I was in a restaurant with my family for my uncle’s birthday. We had taken him to his favorite restaurant to surprise him. I had gone to the bathroom for five minutes and as came out I saw this 35–40-year-old woman at my family’s table in my mother’s face, screaming at the top of her lungs to ‘get her the manager.’
I walked over and said, ‘Okay, what is going on?’
This woman (we’ll call her ‘Karen’), then goes ahead to get right up in my face screaming ‘Stay out of this, this has nothing to do with you!’
I replied, trying not to lose my temper, ‘Ma’am, that’s my mother you’re yelling at,’ Then to my mother, ‘Why is this crazy woman yelling for before I lose my temper?’
My mother (we’ll call her ‘H’) replied, ‘This ‘very lovely’ woman decided that she wanted to sit where we booked, so she said that we were in her reserved spot and told us to leave. I refused, so she started screaming for someone to call the manager.’
Karen cut in, ‘You liar, I have a reservation for this table, so you all have to go sit somewhere else instead.’
I snapped at her, ‘My mother is no liar, the only liar here is you, you miserable, old witch!’
Karen started screaming in my face, ‘How dare you! I am the owner of this restaurant’s wife, and as such, I am telling you to leave.; I started laughing so hard I started crying and spoke, ‘Oh, are you now?’
She replied indignantly, ‘Yes, I am.’
I replied, still laughing, ‘No you’re not, I know the kid of the owners of this place so stop trying to get us to leave and go try your nonsense somewhere else and LEAVE ME AND MY FAMILY ALONE YOU MISERABLE OLD HAG.’
Karen was speechless. All she could manage was to squeak, ‘Just who do you think you are, talking to me like that?’
I laughed and said, ‘Who am I? I am me. Just who the heck do you think you are, talking to me like you own the entire planet?’
Karen was stunned and just stormed off.”
“We Don’t Want You Back.”
“As it was Father’s Day in Australia, my sister and I celebrate it with our mum, who raised us single-handedly with no help from our dad (though his family helped). So mum deserves Father’s Day as well as Mother’s Day.
Mum wanted Chinese for dinner, so we placed the order and I went to get it for her. They were extremely busy and hectic, with people trying to pay left, right and center, and with impatience.
One, in particular, was there with her husband, they had ordered what seemed like a feast – so, naturally, the shorter orders were coming out first. My sister and mum eat Chinese, I only eat very occasionally. So they had ordered Satay chicken and fried rice – not a large order at all.
The woman standing there actually shouted out in frustration as my order was called up first. She stamped her foot (I’m actually not kidding here), and said, ‘I was here first!’
The poor girl at the register apologized and promised she’d check on the order, and then took a payment before she went back.
The Karen was told by the owner of the restaurant her order would be ready in ten minutes, to which the Karen replied: ‘It’s been half an hour and you’re serving other people before me!’ I really would have been home at that point, but this was just too entertaining.
The owner apologized again, and the Karen shouted: ‘I don’t want your apology, I want my food!’
The owner went to check on the food, and the Karen said, loud enough for everyone to hear: ‘It’s not that hard to cook up a meal in a timely manner.’
A bystander, a young man who was among those of us waiting patiently because…hey…it was busy, told her: ‘What stopped you from cooking, then?’
Of course, him being a young guy, the Karen went off at him for being misogynist and that women didn’t belong in the kitchen. By then, her food came out, I’m talking five bags of food. No wonder it took a while.
She then said, ‘I won’t be coming here again. Disgusting service.’
The register girl, the first victim of the Karen, had her shining moment, ‘We don’t want you back.'”
A Random Karen Attack
“One afternoon, I drove to this petrol station because they had one of those automatic car washes. When I arrived, there were no spaces at the petrol pumps to go into the shop and pay for the car wash, which you had to do in advance, and I didn’t need petrol. So I just parked my car at the entrance to the car wash, as there was no queue there at the time. I was mindful to be quick.
As I got to the entrance of the little shop, a woman in her mid-40s had just come out, looked right at me, and sure enough, says at ‘How very selfish of you to park your car there!’ And instead of her stopping, she just kept on walking off. Hit-and-run, right? I wasn’t having it.
So I stopped, turned around, and shouted at her, ‘Oh, go bore right off, you miserable old bag,’ and she didn’t even turn around. Coward.
I literally only took one minute to pay for the car wash, and there was still nobody waiting when I came out of the shop. If there had been, I would have apologized to them. I am just not the selfish type.
But there’s always a Karen about ready to strike, isn’t there?”
Karen Was Literally Voted Off
“I had sailed with friends to Block Island for the weekend, anchoring in the New Harbor. Our second night there, we took the tender to go ashore for dinner, had a lovely time, and then returned.
There was a bit of a wait for the tender, which holds about 40 people, but eventually, we got on board…literally a full boat. Traveling on the tender was a father and his two kids, maybe between 6 and 10, Karen and her male companion, and the rest.
The tender driver, probably early 20s, was trying to make an efficient and orderly delivery of passengers. After a few drop-offs, Karen, who was hammered, insists they were next. She continued to make a fuss, says this wasn’t fair, and was a general nuisance. Someone asked her to pipe down and grow up. She whined back. The tender driver was approaching his limit and threatened to go back to the dock to reload. I told the father his kids are doing great, a shame they had to witness adults at their worst.
We took an informal vote to get Karen off the boat, which meats heading all the way across the harbor. Her boat was a trimaran, which involved a webbed surface between the outboard hulls and the center hull. We g0t to her boat, and, wasted, she stumbles across the webbing. Her companion looked embarrassed. I started a slow clap and eventually the rest of the passengers join in.
Karen looks back at us to say something, but realizes she was lost.”
How Dare He Teach Them To Be Respectful
“My husband, who spent almost 20 years teaching school after retiring from the Marine Corps, has years of experience dealing with Karens (in the education biz, they’re referred to as ‘parents.’)
One of them had a daughter who became ineligible for volleyball because the girl flunked a test. Mind you, this is fifth-grade volleyball in a teeny tiny rural district in the middle of the Illinois upland corn prairie – there were no college scholarships or spots on the Olympic team being jeopardized, here. If she didn’t flunk the next week’s test, she would be back in uniform. It was a one-week suspension.
This woman wrote (and then appeared in person) to the school board, demanding that her daughter be put back on the team. When this didn’t work, she wrote letters to every newspaper for a six-county radius pointing out the Hunnish behavior of this monster who was ruining her innocent daughter’s life.
(Daughter wasn’t particularly upset by it, she was rather a lazy child).
On another occasion, a boy was acting up and disrupting the class. He was given a choice – suspension, or a 100-word essay on respecting others. His mother called the principal and informed her my husband was supposed to be teaching civics, science, and geography. He had no business teaching these children respect.
And people wonder why teachers burn out so fast.”