People Who Grew Up Poor Explain The Things Rich Kids Will Never Understand
Being poor is not fun, I can attest. I never went to bed hungry, but times were often tough.
And having friends who had a lot when you have little can be an overwhelming feeling.
However, it did give me a sense of how to appreciate money, when I have it, and appreciate the things I have in general.
Yes, being rich is great and having tons of cash solves a lot, but the poor kids know a thing or two about survival.
And that is priceless.
RedditorBobtheglob71wanted to hear from the people who know what it's like to really appreciate a dollar, by asking:
"Redditors who grew up poor, what is something that 'rich kids' will never understand?"
In an interview, Dolly Parton once said... "I've been rich and I've been poor. Rich is better. But, what I do know from being poor is that if it happened again, I'd know how to survive and be happy."
(I'm paraphrasing) I love her.
"When I went to school (in the '70s). At lunch time we had to stand in line in the hall before going into the cafeteria. they made those of us on 'free lunches' stand in the back of the line. It was quite humiliating." ~ BirdGuy64Giphy
"What a luxury laundry is. Those kids i went to.school with will never understand I was so poor my family couldn't afford to use the laundry machines in our building, so often times my dad would just get a big cheap bottle of dish soap or some bars of Irish Spring, and that soap was for laundry, dishes and bathing. Also that those tv dinners were a god send. Getting 20 banquet tv dinners for 10 bucks meant eating good for a few days."
"All my gifts for Christmas and Birthdays were something I needed or would need and had to be bought anyway. Like clothes, shoes, or school supplies. Never, never anything fun or just because I wanted it. I also had to steal my first real bra because I'd outgrown my training bra. I'd even snipped the elastic all around to provide more stretch but it wasn't working anymore and people were commenting on it." ~ freckledjezebel
"Family vacations were nonexistent." ~ personofinterest18
"I remember coming back from summer vacation and dreading going back to school for the mere fact I had nothing interesting to share about the summer. All my classmates would talk about their vacations and I would make something up so I wouldn’t sound boring." ~ Scared_Difference_24
"Watching your mom have to put items back as there is it not enough money to pay for everything." ~ PoenkelGiphy
Well that all hits close to home.
Nevermind appreciating money, be thankful you can appreciate food.
"Having dinner and knowing that your Mum isn't eating, not because she isn't hungry, but because she's making sure her kids have food first." ~ DragonsLoveBoxesGiphy
"Collecting aluminum cans." ~ DryMartini_Up
"I used to have a can crusher outside and one of my chores was to crush the cans. We would put them in this industrial plastic barrel that my dad got from work. When it eventually filled up, we took it to the scrap metal yard and sold the cans." ~ WeirdJawn
When to Sleep
"Sleep for dinner." ~ Leeono
Living on the Edge
"That it never goes away. I want from homeless growing up to having a very comfy six figure job. I still find myself acting as if I am always living on the edge of homelessness again. Thinking I can't try new foods because it I don't like it then I won't get dinner. That I'm a bad person for throwing out things instead of trying to reuse them. I get serious panic attacks I think I did bad at work because my brain still tells me I'm one paycheck from the street." ~ AsexualAccountant
Too Much Stuff
"A lifetime of clutter because it's so hard to throw anything away even when you're no longer poor." ~ HermitWilsonGiphy
There is no shame in poor.
God bless us all.
Want to "know" more?
Sign up for the Knowable newsletter here.
Never miss another big, odd, funny or heartbreaking moment again
- People Who Grew Up Poor Share Their Favorite Cheap Meals ... ›
- Rich People That Were Once Poor Explain Which New Problems ... ›
- People That Grew Up Rich Share When They Realized They Were ... ›
- People Who Grew Up Poor Explain Which Things Scream 'Rich' To ... ›
- People Who Grew Up Rich But Turned Out Poor Share Their Stories ... ›
- People Who Grew Up Wealthy Share The Exact Moment They ... ›
- People Share Which Things You Only Know If You Grew Up Poor - George Takei ›
- People Confess The Things They Honestly Just Don't Understand - George Takei ›
- People Share The Moment They Realized Their Family Wasn't Like Other Families - George Takei ›
- People Explain Which Things From Their Childhood Kids Today Wouldn't Understand - George Takei ›
- People Explain Which Poverty Meals They Love No Matter How Much Money They Have - George Takei ›
- People Divulge The One Thing Their Family Will Never Understand About Them - George Takei ›
- People Break Down The Things Only Someone Who's Been Poor Will Understand - George Takei ›
- Rich People That Were Once Poor Explain Which New Problems Wealth Brought Into Their Lives - George Takei ›
- People Describe The Most Disturbing Thing They've Ever Seen A Rich Person Do - George Takei ›
- People Who Grew Up Rich But Turned Out Poor Share Their Stories - George Takei ›
- What is the difference between children who grew up in a wealthy ... ›
- 31 Things About Growing Up Poor (That Rich Kids Will Never ... ›
- The surprising cost of growing up poor in the shadow of wealth - The ... ›
- Rich Kids Stay Rich, Poor Kids Stay Poor | FiveThirtyEight ›
- How to raise rich kids after growing up poor ›
- I Grew Up Poor. How Am I Supposed to Raise My Middle-Class Kids? ›
Medicine is a difficult profession. Thanks to the wonder that is human nature, healthcare workers are subjected to incredible Darwin-award-winning scenarios daily, so it’s no wonder that many of them feel the need to go home and scream into their pillows at night. From self-inflicted injuries to dangerous prescription misuses, these Redditors revealed the most facepalm-worthy patients they’ve ever encountered.
But be warned: They’ll all leave you wondering how we’ve survived this long as a species.
There Is No Plan Cwhite and red cross signPhoto by Markus Winkler on Unsplash
I’m a pharmacist. One evening, I was working a relief shift (not at my usual pharmacy). A man comes in looking distressed. He tells me, “I had intimate relations with a woman I do not intend to pursue a long-term relationship with”. Yes, he said it just like that. I say, “Okay. I’m assuming there was an accident, or it was unprotected. How long ago did it happen”? He answers, “Last night, at 7 PM on the couch”.
Woah, TMI. I just needed to know the approximate time so I’d know if Plan B would work. I start to tell him, “We have this medication called Plan B, and since the incident happened within 72 hours—” but he interrupts me and I was thrown completely off guard: “Oh yes, I got that for her already yesterday, right after we finished. We want to know if there is anything we can do to know if she is pregnant now”.
I answer, “Unfortunately not. She’ll have to wait three weeks or so to see if she gets her period, and if she doesn’t, she can do a pregnancy test then. Theoretically, you could do a blood test for faster results, but that would also not be until a couple of weeks, at least”. He responds, “We’re just really anxious because she doesn’t want to be pregnant. Is there anything that she can take to prevent the pregnancy? Any multivitamin? Minerals? Food”?
I tell him, “She’s already taken it, which was the Plan B. There are some other options, but those are prescriptions. And no, there are no over-the-counter products she can take”. Then he asks, “What about me? Is there anything I can take now to prevent the pregnancy? Any multivitamins or minerals”? A little bemused, I just answer, “…No sir. There isn’t anything you can take now”.
Get A Load Of This Guy
I’m 73, and I’m a former clinical microbiologist from LONG ago. Still, I found myself all over the clinical lab at times, not just infectious diseases. So, one day, this 20-something guy (with his wife and mom in tow) walks in with a paper request for an analysis of his “swimmers”, pre-computer era. Okay, not the most comfortable encounter, but I’m a professional, and I’d done this drill many times.
It turned out he had not been briefed by the doctor and had no idea how establishing infertility in males was done. Well, okay—this would be a challenge, then. I took him aside and, using standard medical terminology, told him how a diagnosis is made and what he needed to do to provide a specimen. He couldn’t believe that I was asking him to “do it” into that container.
Astonished! Then he played dumb as if the concept was unfamiliar to him. We looped through the medical terms and procedure again, and I eventually resorted to every word I knew to describe the “act”. It was like a George Carlin bit! A half-hour later, he emerged from the toilet with two inches of urine in the cup. God almighty.
The report came back: “Patient provided improper specimen”.
This Is How The Elderly Get Their Wrinkles
I’m a paramedic. I had an elderly woman complain that her mouth was dry and she felt a bit dizzy climbing the stairs earlier. So I go through the whole rigamarole of getting a medical history, vitals, and more detail on her symptoms. Then I asked her what she’s had to drink today. Her answer? A cup of tea—ten hours ago. I asked, “Any water”? She says no.
Guess what fixed it within five minutes.
The Mother Got A Lot Of Heat For This
I was at the children’s hospital with my eldest when he was a toddler (ah, the day we found out he was allergic to penicillin) when a rushing team suddenly occupied the bed next to me with a limp, unresponsive infant. This happened on a hot day during the mid-summer. The baby was in a full Canadian winter-level snowsuit.
After they got the baby’s temperature down, I overheard the doctor losing his mind a little bit with the mother as she kept insisting she had to have her baby in the suit lest the baby risk feeling chilly. He explained that the minor discomfort of having to cry for a blanket did not trump the risk of it losing its life or the possibility of literally frying the kid’s brain.
He had to get quite nasty with his wording in that she had almost unalived her baby and might have given it brain damage.
Mr. Hot Shot
I had a buddy who was an EMT, and he was called out to a location for a GSW. What happened was a father was mowing his lawn when he accidentally touched a part of the mower near the engine and burned his hand. He got mad at the lawnmower, pulled out his pistol, and shot it. The shot ricocheted and hit his son in the leg.
Now, He’s Gonorrhea-Valuate All His Conditions…a woman holding a stethoscope in her right handPhoto by Eben Kassaye on Unsplash
I worked in ED for 10 years. Every day. Every day people come in, and it shocks you how they’ve managed to evade unaliving themselves for that long. One of the worst was when we had a guy come in. He was a twin. He told us he needed to get checked for STDs because his sister just got one. We, of course, had to ask if he’d had intimate relations with her, and he said no, but they were twins, so whatever she has, so does he.
After a collective sigh of relief that this wasn’t some weird Alabama, your-my-sister scenario, we had to educate him on how that’s not how it worked at all.
It Was An Arm of Intervention
I got told to go introduce myself to a patient to get vitals, history, and more info on their chief complaint, before starting an IV and drawing blood for labs. She came in for arm pain, and it looked like she had a nasty bug bite on her arm. So her story was she was an exotic dancer, and her Adderall prescription wasn’t doing the trick. So, she had an idea of how to make it more potent.
She heard from a friend that if you crush it up, suspend it in water, and then inject it, it would be more effective. Except she used tap water to dissolve the Adderall before she injected it. This ended up causing a huge abscess and infection at the site of injection. She ended up losing her arm at the elbow...So now she’s a one-armed exotic dancer.
They Must’ve Gone Ballistic
I had a patient who had a bullet lodged in her leg. We had the surgeon come and assess her. Based on its placement, he suggested leaving it because removing it could cause even more danger. We discharged her. She immediately walked to the ER in the same hospital to complain of leg pain. She had prescriptions and wound supplies in her hand.
Still, they brought her back, discovered her injury, and called for a surgical consult. The same surgeon was on-call and came to assess her. Guess what?! The surgeon made the same suggestion to leave it. Then we educated her EXTENSIVELY about never getting an MRI or the metal will fly out of her skin. Eventually, she left.
She returned a few months later to a sister hospital complaining of a headache. She got inpatient admission, and you guessed it: They did an MRI. The slug ripped out, and the MRI machine was down for almost a week!
She Just Couldn’t Seem To Grasp The Conception
I had an 18 or 19-year-old girl come into my ER with some complaint that required an X-ray. It’s standard that we do a urine pregnancy test before imaging on any female of childbearing years. She insisted she’d never “done it”, and there was zero possibility of pregnancy. We did the test anyway, and it resulted that she was pregnant. We then did a blood pregnancy test to confirm the result since she insisted she couldn’t possibly be pregnant because she’d never had intercourse.
That was positive too. We gave her a few minutes to herself to figure out what the heck happened, and when I returned to check on her a short time later, she asked me if she could get pregnant even though her boyfriend “didn’t go all the way in”. She 100% believed that as long as he wasn’t entirely inside her, it didn’t count as intercourse.
It took nearly a half hour of explaining reproduction for her to understand that, whether it’s halfway in or in, sperm travel.
It Ultimately Wasn’t Very Fun-Knee
I overheard a conversation between a nurse, a doctor, and a patient in the ER. They were trying to figure out whether the patient was very stupid or had a head injury. It was both hilarious and sad. He kept telling them that he was there for a hurt leg, but he couldn’t explain why his leg was hurt, how it was hurt, or how he got there—nearly anything.
I heard them talking in a hallway to each other. The nurse was convinced the patient hit his head. The doctor, without skipping a beat, dropped his unexpected diagnosis: “No, he is just an idiot.” It turned out the doctor was right. They got ahold of the guy’s wife. She told them in the hallway he’s always this dumb, and if she left him, he would get lost in his own house and starve.
It sounded like the patient’s leg was visibly injured or swollen. But when asked what happened or how it felt, he gave nonsensical idiot answers. He wasn’t slurring, but answering in a regular idiot voice, saying things like, “It feels hurt”, and “I was talking to Jimmy, and we were doing our usual work, and my leg hurts”.
The doctor would ask, “Did something happen? What is the work”? But the patient kept responding, “Something always happens; you know how it goes”, or “I just want my leg fixed”.
An Change Of Heartman in white dress shirt wearing black framed eyeglassesPhoto by Usman Yousaf on Unsplash
This one came from a colleague of mine. So, this 60-something-year-old suffered from an acute complication and got a pacemaker to solve the problem. Everything went normally, and as planned, he recovered. Every care and medication that he needed to take got prescribed and explained and his medical appointments with a cardiologist/arrhythmologist were scheduled so he could get the follow-ups he needed. The man then proceeded to never show up to any appointments and never answered any calls from the hospital to know of him and reschedule.
This went on for around three years. Then one day, he showed up without former warning and asked to talk with the doctor who did the procedure to put in his pacemaker. People were weirded out, but since the doctor was present that day and this patient was in clear distress, they talked to him and managed to find a couple of minutes to have the doctor check on him. Inside the appointment room, the doctor noticed that the man was wearing a bra inside his shirt.
The man explained he’d been wearing his daughter’s bra for three months after his “problem” got worse. So the doctor asked that he take off his shirt…and there he stood, this shirtless man wearing his daughter’s bra, showing off the pacemaker that should’ve remained inside his body. It was now dangling outside of it, being held by the left bra cup, with a big infected open wound above it with the pacemaker leads still inserted into his veins and connected to his heart.
Nobody had any idea how the man let that situation come to be or how he didn’t pass from sepsis or any other health problem that might’ve appeared, for that matter.
The Parents Were The Real Suckers
While working the midnight shift in the ER, a family brought in a four-year-old at 2am-ish. I asked them what was wrong. They said, “Ask him. He said he needed to see a doctor”. I further pressed, “Did he say anything was wrong”? They answered, “No. He said he needed to see a doctor, so we brought him”. A quick back and forth firmly established that they actually showed up to the ER at 2 AM, purely because the four-year-old said he needed to see a doctor and that they didn’t know why.
So I asked the child, “Why do you need to see a doctor”? His answer made me shake my head in disbelief: “The doctor has suckers”. To be clear, it was the parents who lacked sense and not the kid.
A Very Delicate Condition
I’m a social worker, and one of my clients kept getting pregnant over and over after having kids. I had a frank conversation with her about birth control or getting her tubes tied because she kept going through horrific births only to get her kids taken away, and she said to me that she didn’t know that birth control or safe intercourse would save her from getting pregnant.
She didn’t realize that intercourse = pregnant because she was mistreated as a child, and her father told her that she could only get pregnant when she fell in love, and she had never been in love, so she didn’t understand why she kept getting pregnant. Intercourse was only a pleasure for her, so she didn’t realize that was what was getting her pregnant.
The Answer Was At Hand
I am a dermatologist in India. As is the culture here, people eat with their hands, and almost all of our curries or even other dry side dishes have a lot of turmeric. It is common knowledge to anyone born and brought up in India that this means the nails of your dominant hand (statistically, the right hand) will be yellow-stained because we have seen this happen since our childhood.
Usually, this wears off in about a day and a half if you wash it a couple of times. Cut to the first patient in my OPD, a young girl in her early 20s, very anxious. I ask her, “What brings you here today”? The patient says, “Doc, my right-hand fingernails keep getting yellow-discolored”. I take a look and confirm, “Only your right hand”? She answers, “Yes, and only after meals”.
So I ask her, “Erm…do you eat with your hands”? The patient confirms, “Yes, always”. I then explain to her, “So...you know it’s just turmeric, right”? And she goes, “Yes, but can you make it stop happening”? Perplexed now, I just tell her, “For God’s sake, use a spoon”! But she’s still not quite getting it. Surprised, she asks, “So you mean there is no medicine to make it stop”?
I just stared at her while she looked at me expectantly. “NO”! This might hit home more with people of South Asian cultures or people who habitually eat turmeric-cooked food with their hands. Anyway, for a grown person to complain about this was just…well, surprising and a little ridiculous.
This Guy Wasn’t Very Treat Smart
I work in emergency medical services. I had a diabetic in his 30–40s who refused to take insulin since 2012. It was 2020 at the time. When I took his blood sugar, it only read as “HI”, meaning it had to be over 700 for the glucometer not to read it. Upon seeing this, he asked me if that was high and then went, “Is this because of all the ice cream I ate”?
He was playing a Facebook Messenger video with his girlfriend the entire time. I met him later on in the parking lot after he got discharged, and it took this man less than fifty paces from the ER door to rip off the bandage covering his IV and play with the IV wound until it started bleeding all over the place again.
He then knocked on our ambulance door and asked for a bandaid to fix it. We had to walk him back into the ER and bandage his entire arm with gauze so that, hopefully, by the time he got it off, it would’ve clotted enough for him not to end up exsanguinating himself.
Rubbing Salt In The Woundbrown and white shell on orange round platePhoto by Arnold Antoo on Unsplash
My sister told me a story of a woman with chronic blisters and lesions on her lips. They couldn’t figure out what it was for weeks. It would heal and come back, heal and come back. The truth was disturbing—it turned out she would jam out on like three bags of salt and vinegar chips a day for weeks at a time until the sores hurt too bad to continue, then she’d go to the doctor.
Details Make A Difference
This was one of the funniest yet cutest ones from when I was a student doing a shift in andrology/reproductive health. Doctor: “So, you’re trying to have kids but not managing to. Do you have any other kids”? Patient: “Yes, Doc. I have one”. Doctor: “Okay, so we need to do [this and this and that]”. Patient: “Okay, great”.
Then he proceeded to visit him and stuff, after which he went away. But after a couple of seconds, he knocked on the door again, saying: “Hello, Doc. My wife told me that it would be relevant to you that the son I have is adopted, but that makes no difference to me. I’ve always considered him my son”!
Do No Farm
I’m a physiotherapist. For those who don’t know, after a total knee replacement, you have a six-week window after the surgery to regain the range of motion. If you don’t regain the range in those first six weeks, it ain’t coming back. I had a patient who was a farmer who was very enthusiastic about regaining the range because he needed to be mobile for his work. I saw him for the first time about five days after his surgery.
I showed him all the basic exercises, told him not to do any farm work for at least six weeks, and told him to come back to see me once a week for the first six weeks. He disappeared and came back about eight weeks later. His range was non-existent, maybe 30 degrees of range in total. He was visibly mad at me as if it was my fault. He was shouting and calling me incompetent.
Our conversation went something like this: Me: “Have you been doing the exercises”? Him: “No”. Me: “How often are you doing farm work”? Him: “Every day”. Me: “Why haven’t you come back since the first appointment eight weeks ago”? Him: “Too busy with farm work”. Me: “So, to summarize here, you did absolutely nothing that I told you to, and this is somehow my fault”?
I never saw him again.
A Jaw-Dropping Encounter
As a pharmacist, I often encounter a lot of people who lack common sense; namely, everyone who comes in to buy homeopathic stuff, especially for serious things. Once, a lady came in with a prescription from the dentist for some heavy antibiotics and painkillers due to an infection that threatened to damage the jawbone.
When I asked if she knew how to take them, she went: “Oh, I’m not gonna take those; they’ll go right into the garbage. But I gotta buy them so that my dentist is happy. I’d rather stick with [insert name of homeopathic stuff here] instead of harming me with some devilish chemicals”!
Throughout the years, I’ve learned to just shrug and accept those Darwin-award candidates instead of arguing with them. It just infuriates me when I see that they’ve got children or/and pets…
That’s Never Gonna Heel Now
This was circa 1983, and I’m a nurse (retired). I had this one guy in his early 20s who went swimming hammered in a notoriously nasty lake in our area. It was a “don’t drink the water” kind of lake, and he went in without shoes, stepped on an old booze tab, and cut his foot open. He didn’t go to the hospital or try to clean it at all for about a week. His girlfriend said he kept saying, “It’s fine, it’s just a cut”, when she pressured him to get it seen, so of course, he showed up in the ER with a foot that blew up like a balloon.
Healing it took two and a half months in the hospital, with his foot completely laid open in surgery, doing debridement and packing, which I can honestly say after over 30 years in healthcare stands as one of the nastiest jobs I have ever had to do—and I had been dealing with things like bedsores and open wounds from radiation treatments and cancer for about seven years at that point.
It was bad, but that's not all—on top of this, he was obnoxious, disrespectful, and, when the opportunity presented itself, cruel. Other nurses, you know the type, they’re everywhere. Hopefully not as open about it these days, but yeah. I had a student nurse I was training come running out of the room in tears and refused to go back in and would not tell any of us what he said, but I can imagine.
Eventually, we finally got it cleaned out, and it’s responding well to antibiotics, and the tissue is granulating well. He gets sent home with antibiotics and strict instructions on how to care for it and to keep it clean and dry. THE DAY he left the hospital, he went back out to the same lake, got inebriated, put on some nasty tennis shoes, and went swimming.
He showed up on our floor again a week after being discharged. He lost the foot. His girlfriend left him.
Fortunately, They Caught Him Red-Handedman in blue scrub suit wearing blue stethoscopePhoto by Bruno Rodrigues on Unsplash
I don’t know if a cleaner in a hospital counts, but this one time, I got to work early on a Saturday morning, and we immediately received a request for help from the ER and got sent over by my boss. When I got there, the first thing I heard was yelling from this guy behind one of the curtains. He was shouting at the nurses, “Don’t touch my downstairs”, and “I didn’t use any substances”!
Then I smelled iron in the air, and then I found out there was blood all over the hallway, with hand prints in blood against the wall. Almost the entire floor was covered in blood, with actual puddles in some places. What happened? The guy pulled out his catheter, causing arterial bleeding, and he decided to run away from the nurses who were trying to help him.
It seems like he lived through that. I had never seen that much blood before that day, nor after.
Thinking Against The Grain
I am a medical professional, but I have two really good ones about my ex-fiancé. Laugh at me all you want; this relationship was not my proudest moment. For starters, at our baby shower for my son, he asked if we were going to pick “innie” or “outie”. I looked at him like he was insane, and he started getting angry and just repeated the question louder until I shushed him and took him aside to explain to him that we don’t choose how the belly button looks; it just happens.
Another time, he had really bad eczema and went to a doctor who suggested oatmeal baths during flare-ups. He bought a couple of boxes of Quaker Oats Maple & Brown Sugar and would dump the entire box packet by packet into the tub. It was a couple of weeks before I found the wrappers and questioned him about it.
He told me (angry again) that he wondered why he was so sticky after getting out and why the freaking literal brown sugar was making his open wounds fester. I explained that an oatmeal bath is not flavored oatmeal and that he had to buy either plain oats or actual oatmeal bath packets. He was furious that I expected him to just know better.
When I asked him why he picked maple and brown sugar, he said he didn’t want to smell like strawberries or peaches after his bath. After our son was born (and we had broken up, thank God), my son also had some occasional eczema, but not nearly to the same degree. The pediatrician recommended oatmeal baths, and GUESS WHAT THIS FREAKING GUY BOUGHT?
He said he only remembered what happened the last time when he picked my son out of the sink, and the towel stuck to him. When I started to scold him for being so stupid, he looked at me like I was an idiot and told me he only used one packet since we were still bathing the kid in the sink instead of in an entire tub.
The Patient Had A Med-ley Bag
I’m a pharmacist. I had a woman bring in a literal sandwich bag that she kept all her meds in, unseparated. She needed help seeing which meds she was low on or out of and was asking different questions about the medications. When she pointed to an Apoquel and stated it was her blood pressure medicine, I immediately became concerned as to why pet medicine was in her bag (and also why she was mixing all her meds in a bag in the first place).
It was then that I found out that she had been throwing her pet’s meds inside her bag of medicine, too. So Lord knows what she’d been giving her dog or taking herself. I immediately stressed how important it is to keep medicine in its original container to protect both the medicine and herself and to know the directions of how to take it.
I’ve seen her a few times since then, and I’m glad to see she has since taken my advice. But how any pharmacist or doctor hadn’t advised her on this before is beyond me.
They Didn’t Air On The Side Of Caution
I used to be a medical oxygen tech, mostly doing in-home work. One guy was on such a high concentration that he would have drawn nearly zero oxygen from breathing regular atmosphere. This required two heavy-duty machines hooked up in tandem just to keep him barely alive. This was explained ad nauseam to him and his wife with fully signed documentation of every conversation.
What they did was absolutely ridiculous—they’d shut one machine off because they decided it was too loud. He’d take his mask off because he decided it was too cold. She would unplug the hose if she decided it was in the way. So on and so on. They did everything you could think of that would restrict or cut off his oxygen intake. Then they would panic and call our emergency service when he started to react to no oxygen intake.
I lived not even five minutes away, right beside our EMS station, and calls would always come for me to “fix” the machines at random times of the day and night, 3–7 days a week. They refused to call 9-1-1 because they “didn’t want to make a scene”. This went on for ages, well over 18 months, until he was having trouble sleeping one night, and they shut the machines off before going back to bed.
It’s been years, and I still see the wife around town. She always glares at me as if I’m the one who unalived him.
She’ll Just See Herself Out, Now…
I’m an ophthalmology surgical technician. A glaucoma patient in her late 50s was going blind despite her drop therapies for the past six months. Her pressure was consistently in the 30s and 40s. I asked her if she was using her drops regularly (twice daily), and she said yes. I asked, as politely as I could, if she’d missed any doses in the past month. She said no. I asked if she was using them properly, and she got super offended.
She asked me very rudely, “Do I look like an idiot to you”? I said, “No, but I just need to be sure. Sometimes patients think they’re doing it right, but they can easily miss it. Can you show me how you use your drops”? So she took out her drop bottle, gave it a good shake (so far, so good), looked up at the ceiling (also a good sign), opened her MOUTH, and swallowed two drops.
I got in trouble, but my OD backed me up and told her that’s the stupidest thing he’s ever seen in 25 years. She cried and said we were being mean to her and that the drops burned her eyes, so she didn’t want to put them in there, and since the eyes, ears, nose, and throat are all connected, why did it matter where she put them?
That’s not how glaucoma therapy works. She needed a shunt implant, and we were able to save about 30% of her visual field. But yeah, she was drinking her drops and going blind.
That’s Ill-Adviseda woman in a white shirt holding a stethoscopePhoto by Alexandr Podvalny on Unsplash
I used to volunteer at a free medical clinic to take vitals and histories. A woman came in with pneumonia and wanted to know why her normal treatment of drinking half a bottle of Listerine and inhaling a pack of cancer sticks a day wasn’t working. I asked why she thought ciggies were a good treatment for a lung infection, and she said, “Indians used to purify the ground by burning all the weeds away before planting, so I’m puffing to purify my lungs”.
I left that one to the doctor.
I’m an optometrist. I had a patient booked in for an emergency appointment with a raging red eye. It was very painful. So I looked under the microscope, and the cornea was not happy: wobbly reflexes, haziness, the works. So I asked, “What happened”? The patient said, “It’s my niece’s wedding this Saturday, and I wanted to tint my eyelashes to match my hair, and the color scheme of the wedding is light blue, so I used the same dye for both to match the color”.
I inquired, “Does that hair dye contain ammonia, by any chance”? The patient answered, “I think so. Do you think my eye will be better by Saturday? Will it match the color scheme”? I just responded, “Unless you can convince them to change the color scheme to red, no”.
This Grave Mistake Takes The Biscuit
I heard this story from a sibling; I don’t think he’d mind me sharing it just on the off chance it prevents someone else from making this mistake. Lots of surgeons have a similar story, but thankfully this one doesn’t end in someone’s demise. According to my brother, these parents claimed that their child hadn’t eaten anything before surgery, as they were carefully directed. But it turned out they thought the surgical team was just being cruel to their child.
So when she said she was hungry that morning, they detoured on their way to the surgical center and got her a full Southern breakfast. The result was triggering—she dang near passed from aspirating biscuits and gravy. I’ve rarely seen my brother so angry and disgusted (somehow, biscuits and gravy look even more nauseating the second time around) as he recounted what had happened.
I do not doubt that he tore a strip off the parents once their five-year-old was stabilized, and they probably still felt justified and angry at the surgeon for telling them what they could and could not feed their child right before anesthesia. The parents did feel justified and hard-done-by, although, as far as I know, they didn’t express anger at my brother (knowing him, they didn’t get a word in edgewise).
There was no acknowledgment or realization that they could easily have unlived their own child or that they’d made a bad decision. I remember they were annoyed by her whining for food.
The Outcome Suited Them Just Fine
I’m a pharmacist. One time my coworker, another pharmacist, got served with a lawsuit while I was there. The patient suffered a fall resulting in a concussion, and she claimed it was because her Lisinopril (blood pressure medication) got increased from 10mg to 20mg and that she’d not been informed and passed out as a result. She was suing the pharmacist, the pharmacy, her doctor’s office, and the doctor.
It eventually came out in early discovery that she was at a rave and had a BAC of 0.18, THC, and MDMA in her system. The case against the doctor’s office, doctor, and pharmacy fell apart right away, so she decided to go all-in on trying to sue the individual pharmacist. The pharmacy’s POS system confirmed that she checked, “I decline pharmacist consultation at this time”. So the case was eventually dropped.
He Had To Take A Pregnant Pause
I work in the ER. I have so many stories. The one that left me dumbfounded was a woman who was brought in by her sister for pelvic cramps and amenorrhea for three months. Lo and behold, she’s pregnant. The sister informs me that she sleeps with the Brazilian construction workers building the condo complex next door. I ask if they have any questions.
The patient then asked me if her baby would come out speaking Spanish. After a long pause and her sister staring at the ceiling, I told her, “No, because they speak Portuguese in Brazil”. The patient seemed relieved, and the sister hustled her out of the ER before I could discharge her.
It Cost Them An Amen And A Legman in white dress shirt holding black tablet computerPhoto by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash
I worked in cancer research/surgery a couple of years ago. There is a good amount of people who will refuse to have a small removal/surgery because they think holistic medicine or praying it away will work. They always come back, and we always have to remove so much more. One time a patient had melanoma on their calf, and the doctor wanted to do a simple wide excision, but they left because they wanted to pray it away.
They came back a couple of months later because it got bigger, and we had to amputate their leg. I’m pretty sure they had positive lymph nodes at that point too.
They Gave Her A Herbal Warning
A lady brought her baby into the ER with a rectal temp of 103. The kid had tachycardia (i.e. a fast heartbeat) and looked awful. The worst part? The lady refused all medications. She said she didn’t believe in them and wondered why her herbal tea (she brought a jug of it) wasn’t working. She wanted us to just check her out. She thought a children’s emergency room just checked them out. I tried to explain why the kid needed an NSIAD. She kept refusing. She said she didn’t know what was in it.
I brought up the fact she had her kid in a hospital and that she received medication herself (IV, epidural, etc). The lady didn’t budge. Only concerned for herself, I told her that when the kid has a seizure or goes unresponsive and she calls 9-1-1, she can expect the medics to give the kid everything it needs regardless of whether she likes it or not.
Desperate times called for desperate measures, so the doctor threatened to contact social services for child endangerment and mistreatment. Only then did she start to listen…for, like, five whole seconds. She then left against medical advice. People like this exist.
Words Cannot Expresso How Ridiculous This Call Was
I’ve been a firefighter for 18 years. People call 9-1-1 for the dumbest things ever. But the one that takes the cake? It was a guy who called 9-1-1 to say he was choking. He answered the door as high as a Georgia pine with a lit joint in his mouth. I asked him who was choking. He calmly said that he was. He said he swallowed an ice cube, and now he couldn’t breathe.
Just to be sure and partly out of morbid curiosity, I looked in his mouth and then asked him to take a few deep breaths...which he was able to do easily. He still insisted he couldn’t breathe. So I told him to make some hot coffee and then drink it. He asked me, “Why”? I told him that the coffee would melt the ice cube, and he’d be able to breathe again. “Oh, cool. Thanks, man”.
Then I left.
I work in clinical research at a hospital. Basically, for patients who have cancer but don’t have other standard-of-care options, clinical trials, or “experimental treatment”, are a viable option for many. Some people have a negative view of research, but it’s highly regulated and not as scary as it sounds. Anyway, we went through the consent form with this one patient who had a history of substance use.
We don’t know everything about this new medication, but one thing we DO know is that using coke while taking this drug will make your heart “explode”, in layman’s terms. This patient “promised” they were off the sauce and that they “totally wouldn’t do coke while they’re on the trial”. Two weeks later, they relapsed, and well…You can figure out the rest of the story.
Wrestling With Logic
My brother did a rotation in an ER before med school. Paramedics brought in a man with a lacerated neck. He was inebriated and fell into a fish tank. His equally inebriated buddies called 9-1-1. When the paramedics arrived, they realized his friends had put a very tight tourniquet around his neck to stop the bleeding. It turned out that the guy and his buddies had been playing a boozy game of WWE.
He had a two-inch glass shard stuck in his head in addition to the neck laceration, but the dude came into the ER with no idea the glass was there. Four different firefighters had to hold him down as he screamed prejudiced remarks at the female doctor. My brother said that when they removed the glass, blood shot out about 10 feet in the air.
My brother, at that point, silently “noped” the heck out of medicine. He went on to attend Berklee Music School and is living his best life as a musical producer and engineer, and is not arguing with rednecks about whether or not there is a glass shard in their head….
Shear Stupiditya close up of a person laying in a hospital bedPhoto by César Badilla Miranda on Unsplash
I’m an ER nurse with seven years of experience. The list of dumb things I’ve seen is nearly endless. People coming in with massive burns because they smoked in bed is not as rare as you’d think. But the one that got me the most was a guy who came in for chest pain and fatigue. An EKG revealed he was having a really bad heart attack.
We activated the cath lab for emergency stents to hopefully save the guy’s life. They almost always access the patient through the groin for the procedure, so one of our jobs in the ER is to shave the patient’s groin to prep them for the cath lab. We got the clippers out, as we don’t use actual razors anymore, and informed the guy we needed to shave him. This is when things got annoying.
He refused. No problem, we figured we woul adjust let the cath lab do it once he’s knocked out. Nope, the guy refuses to sign the consent for the stents because he doesn’t want his downstairs shaved.
After trying to educate him, pleading with him, and contacting every goddang lawyer the hospital had, the guy signed himself out of AMA and went home.
He would rather die than have his curlies shaved. We looked up his address, and we weren’t the closest hospital to him, so if he passed at home, the medics would have to take him to a different hospital. I doubt he survived the day.
Paws For Thought
I’m a vet. A few years ago, I had a client bring his young cat in complaining of lethargy. Besides being a bit underweight, the physical exam was unremarkable, so I asked more questions about the cat’s diet. I asked him, “What do you feed the cat”? The owner answered, “I feed him [online trendy raw food brand]”. I asked, “How is his appetite? Does he finish what you feed him”? The owner replied, “Yes, he always eats everything”.
Pressing further, I asked, “How much do you feed him”? The owner said, “Half a cup”. For clarification’s sake, I then asked, “Once or twice daily”? What he said next absolutely floored me. He answered, “Once every three or four days”. Shocked, I replied, “…You only feed your cat twice a week”? The owner explained, “I believe in a more natural feeding approach, and based on my research, that’s how often cats eat in the wild”.
This owner was slowly starving his cat into oblivion based on some cockamamie idea he’d made up while watching National Geographic. I had to explain to him that domestic cats are not tigers and that small wildcats eat 10–20 small meals daily. Surprise, surprise, the cat’s lethargy and weight improved with regular feeding.
I once heard a story about a particular patient receiving radiation therapy. It was impressed upon her that she couldn’t miss her fractions of radiotherapy, even if she were busy, so she needed to inform us if she really couldn’t make the appointment. Well, one day, she couldn’t make it. But instead of just informing us, she sent her twin sister to receive the radiation therapy in her place.
Of course, the twin answered yes to all the ID questions and had the same birthday, etc. She was only found out when the radiographers had trouble matching her to the CT. The CT was of a person who had undergone a mastectomy, while this “patient” still had both her mammaries. This story, many years later, is still told to new staff during training to reiterate the importance of ensuring correct identification.
You would be stunned by the number of people who try to skip the queue. The number isn’t high. But it isn’t zero.
It Took Some Arm Twisting
I work in orthopedic rehab. I had a patient with a common fracture of the wrist that a doctor sent over because she was inexplicably getting stiffer and stiffer. I spent 17 sessions with her one on one, 40ish minutes each. But nothing I did worked. For whatever reason, instead of just bending her wrist, she would contort her entire body.
She was married, raised kids, had a career, and was a seemingly functional adult. I tried everything to get her to actively use her muscles to move her wrist. I put her in front of a mirror, filmed videos of myself doing the exercise or her doing it, and tried to get her to spot the difference between moving your shoulder versus moving your wrist.
The last time I saw her, I even strapped her arm to a chair, and she still didn’t understand that she should’ve only been trying to move her wrist. I will never understand it.
There Was No Sugarcoating It
I work at a vet clinic. We get a lot of this sort of thing, oftentimes with diabetic patients. One of the worst I’ve seen was an older owner come in with an extremely overweight, diabetic dog. The owner says the dog has been slow, tires easily, and has been “flopping around”, which is odd for her. The doctor checks the dog’s blood glucose, and it is so high it is literally off the charts.
Normal blood glucose for a dog is around 100 or so. The dog's reading was shocking—it was beyond 1000. We asked the owner how it got so high. Was she eating? She was because she was obese. Were you giving her the insulin? The owner then proceeds to say that they think she’s probably fine without it since she’s a “strong and hardy dog”.
Ma’am, your nine-year-old 80-pound Dalmatian is currently half-alive on the floor because you don’t give her insulin. How they kept that poor dog alive for that long was astounding.
Are You Kidding Me!?a person is holding a picture of a babyPhoto by Amr Taha™ on Unsplash
When I was an intern posted in the obstetric department, I saw a 42-year-old pregnant woman who came for an antenatal checkup. This was her seventh pregnancy, and she had only one living child. So she had five pregnancies previously, which failed (three spontaneous abortions and two stillbirths). The sixth one had been high-risk too, and she’d needed to get a cervical cerclage done (they stitch the cervix because it is too weak to hold a baby in until term).
When the OBGYN asked her why she would put herself through pregnancy again instead of being content with her daughter, she replied, “My in-laws want us to have at least two children”. It was the biggest Pikachu-face moment of my life.
Jesus Took The Wheel Years Ago
I’m an optometrist. I had an elderly patient come in surrounded by concerned family members because the patient ran over one of those pop-up tents on the side of the road that the telephone engineers use to protect themselves from the rain. Luckily no one was hurt as the worker was on lunch. Worried as to how the elderly driver missed seeing a large, red, and white tent in the middle of the day, it was then that the elderly relative admitted to having spent the last three years driving from memory.
Trying Hard To Be Patient
I had a patient come to see me in the clinic on a Monday; everything was fine. By Tuesday morning, she’s on the hospital census with a pending consult for me. When I see her, she says she’s fine and doesn’t know why she was admitted. She then walked out of the clinic, called an ambulance from across the street, and got taken to a different hospital.
She reported her problems were uncontrolled, and nobody was taking her seriously. They transferred her back overnight because I don’t work at that other hospital. She then gets discharged Wednesday morning. On Friday morning, she is again back on the census with a pending consult. I go to see her, and once again, she says she’s fine, and she’s not sure why she’s there.
This time she had a friend pick her up from the hospital and drive her to a small outlying hospital without the services she needed. She walked into the ER and said she was in distress but that nobody was taking her seriously. Yet again, she gets admitted and transferred back to my hospital overnight. She gets discharged on Friday afternoon.
Sure as heck, she came back on Saturday morning. I asked her, “Why do you think you keep getting admitted to the hospital”? She has no clue. Completely baffled. I tell her it’s because she keeps going to hospitals and telling them she needs help. No lights come on. I ask her, “Why do you keep going to other hospitals”?
Finally, she tells me, “I didn’t know what else to do. My apartment is a complete mess. My caretaker won’t clean my apartment because I’m supposed to learn how to do it, and I just don’t want to do it”. Please note that she is not a ward of the state but still gets most of the services, like coaches, guardians, drivers, etc.
So, I follow up with, “But why do you keep telling them that I’m not taking you seriously”? What she said next is forever burnt into my brain. “If I don’t, they just send me home in a cab”.
I’m a dental nurse. My favorite story involved a 30-something-year-old woman who came in for a checkup at the low-cost emergency clinic I worked at. Her teeth were broken and almost black, and her gums were angry, swollen, bright red, and bleeding by just moving her tongue against them. She needed multiple scaling and hygienist appointments and a debridement.
An X-ray showed she needed work on all but her wisdom teeth, and the results made me raise my eyebrows—she needed 10 fillings. She also needed root canals to try and save some teeth and extractions for, I think, three teeth or possibly more if the root canal treatment didn’t work. I explained everything and did the usual explanation of proper oral hygiene.
I then asked her if she had any questions, to which she said, “It’s okay if I lose this set of teeth; my others will come through”. The dentist and I just looked at each other, probably a lot longer than we should have. No words. I couldn’t think of anything to reply to that comment. I had a lot of weird and disgusting things happen at that clinic. I miss working there.
When You Just Can’t Sulfa Fools
I’m a paramedic, and I had this call while working on a rural fire/EMS service. A call came in for an allergic reaction. I arrived at a rural farm and found the patient in the kitchen on the ground, wheezing. Her husband said she took sulfa, which she’s allergic to, and after grabbing her blood pressure, we hit her with epinephrine (which is the same as an EpiPen) and Benadryl.
Her breathing improved, and she started to be able to answer my questions. First, I confirmed her allergy by asking, “So, you’re allergic to sulfa”? The patient says, “Yeah”. I reply, “And you took sulfa”? Again, she goes, “Yeah”. So I asked, “Was it mislabeled or in the wrong bottle”? She answers me with a simple “No”. Okay…
Needing more information, I inquired, “Was it your husband’s prescription”? And unbelievably, she tells me, “No, it was for our horse”. Huh? Feeling a lot more confused, I respond, “Was...Wait, did you say a horse? You took sulfa prescribed for a horse”? She then clarifies, “Well, I only took half”. Sure, that makes it better.
Still trying to follow her logic, I guessed, “...You only took half because a horse is much larger than a person”? The patient confirms, “Yeah”. Uh-huh…I’m still not fully understanding, so I respond, “...Okay. Were you intentionally trying to hurt yourself”? And the patient indignantly answers, “No, of course not”. Exasperated now, I pressed, “But you know you’re allergic, right”?
And she goes, “Yeah. I just have a cold and thought it would help me breathe better”. I couldn’t believe it. Incredulously, I then summarized the situation back to her: “So you took horse sulfa—which you’re allergic to—because you had a cold and thought it would help your breathing”? “I took half a horse sulfa”, the patient corrected me. Good Lord.
I just responded, “Sorry, half. Gotchya. Let’s go to the hospital”.
This Patient Was In A Jamopened white and orange travel trailerPhoto by Muhammed Abiodun Mustapha on Unsplash
I’m a paramedic and was called out for a stroke. The man was having a stroke; upon doing a stroke screen, it looked like the patient had something large in his mouth. Thinking maybe this guy had some sort of oropharyngeal cancer or mass, I asked his wife if this was indeed the case, and she looked at me with a very puzzled look.
She said no, and then I asked, “What is in his mouth”? His wife then says it’s a peanut butter and jelly sandwich that she shoved in there. When her husband’s symptoms started, she thought it was just that his blood glucose was low, so she tried to force-feed this poor man an entire sandwich before she called 9-1-1. Ah, job security.
It Was An Oxidant Waiting To Happen
There was a 24-year-old patient who was brought in from a prison in a rural county. He was working roadside cleanup when he found a bottle in a ditch that he thought contained booze, and he quickly chugged it down. To be fair, it did look like booze. It wasn’t. It turned out it was a substance that contained sulfuric acid. Its pH was less than 2.5...It just ate up the litmus paper. So shortly afterward, he gets to the ICU, and he is in excruciating pain and vomiting blood.
The gastroenterologist took him to do an EGD (basically a procedure where they can look at the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum with a camera attached to a flexible tube), and the pictures were horrendous. You could see his stomach and esophageal mucosa eroding. He had to be sent off to another hospital where they had an esophageal surgeon who could repair the mess.
He, of course, needed multiple surgeries and had a very long hospital stay. I saw him a few months later when he was admitted for another issue. He was down to 90 lbs (from about 150) and was getting fed through a PEG tube. He was very lucky to be young and otherwise healthy (but not very smart).
A Rash Decision
I’m a pharmacist. This story comes to mind, although I’m sure there are plenty more I’m not remembering. A woman came in, claiming that her medication was making her vomit. She said she couldn’t remember what it was called. So, I looked up her profile, but there was nothing recent, just some one-off antibiotics and an anti-fungal from almost a year ago.
I asked her if her medication was over the counter, and she said that it was and pointed me to the Monistat cream. I thought it was incredibly strange that a cream meant for “lady parts” had made her vomit, so I asked her how she had been using it. That’s when I learned the disgusting truth—much to my surprise, she’d been taking it by mouth.
She explained that she would fill the plunger with the cream, shoot it to the back of her throat, and swallow it so she wouldn’t taste it as much as putting it directly on her tongue and swallowing.
What A Meathead
I’m a rural ER doctor. A 35-year-old female walked in with right-sided jaw/neck swelling. She says, “I think it happened because I ate some meat yesterday that my body is reacting to…” Then suddenly, 10 minutes later: “Oh yeah, and I accidentally swallowed a bee, and it stung me in my mouth right before this happened. Sorry, I forgot to mention that”.
When Urine Need Of Some Whizdom
I had an adult male patient who needed a Foley catheter. His mother was in the room, and they both lived together in the backwoods of Tenessee. I informed them both of the order for a catheter, how it worked, and why it was needed. His mother stated, “Well, he’s still a virgin, and I’m not sure I’m comfortable with his virginity being taken in a hospital”.
In almost every interaction with a Karen, there will come a point where she (or he) will ask to speak to the manager. They seem to think that if they over others and just act a fool, they can get what they want—but the following managers REFUSED to let these Karens get away with their inconsiderate antics.
I’m Like A Birdwoman in black headphones holding black and silver headphonesPhoto by Charanjeet Dhiman on Unsplash
I was the only person on shift, which made me the de facto manager. Five minutes before closing, a woman came in and she was SO angry that we didn't have any decaf coffee. She demanded to speak to the manager. I told her that was me because I was the only one there, and the coffee pots were cleaned for the night because we were closing up shop.
Her reply stunned me. She screamed at me and told me she was going to "find a real manager and get you fired”. She then threw half a cup of cappuccino machine sludge at me, and she was about to jump the counter. I was holding a hammer under the counter thinking, "Don't do it, don't do it”. I picked up the phone like I was about to call the authorities. She then left and I locked the door.
A few seconds later, she came back AND RAN FACE-FIRST INTO THE GLASS DOOR. LIKE A BIRD. What an idiot.
That’s What They Call Owning
This is the best interaction I ever had. This Karen griped about not wanting to pay the price for the services performed on her computer, which was exactly the price quoted when she dropped it off. She demanded to speak to the service manager. I called him from the back.
The service manager listened to her spiel as to how she should get a lower price for an irrelevant, pea-brained reason. The service manager made eye contact with me over her shoulder; I did not react. He then said no, the price quoted was the price that would be charged.
She said that was unacceptable, and she would be complaining to the owner, who was “a good friend” she claimed. There was obviously something she didn’t know. The service manager observed that he was evidently not that good a friend, since “he” was me, the person she was originally speaking to when she asked for the service manager.
Her face was glorious, and made the whole thing worthwhile!
This happened while I was serving at Steak 'n Shake. The customer had a coupon for a burger, fries, and a shake for a certain price. On the coupon, it specifically stated that cheese on the burger was a 39-cent upcharge, although it did have a picture of a burger with cheese on it. I was not prepared for her ridiculous tantrum.
This lady THREW A FIT in the dining room that I was treating her unfairly, it was false advertising, etc. I told her I agreed that it was false advertising with the picture, but the text specifically stated the upcharge, and unfortunately, I couldn't do anything about it. Also, the difference was literally cents.
The lady at the next table overheard everything and got up and put 50 cents on the table to cover it. She then said something to the effect of "I'll pay for your darn cheese if you just shut up”.
This ticked the cheese lady off even more. My manager obviously sensed the issue and came out. Took the cheese up charge of the bill. Like what the heck, Karen?
A Slight Overreaction
The staff did not know it at the time, but our ketchup dispenser was empty. A boy, aged 10-ish, was just smashing down on the handle trying to get ketchup, but none was being dispensed. A staff member noticed the kid smashing the ketchup dispenser, so I went out to see what was going on.
"Oh, the ketchup is empty. I'll get a new bag from the kitchen. Give me two minutes and I'll be right back with some new ketchup”. I removed the empty container, took it back to the kitchen, cleaned the dispenser, and placed it in a new bag. When I took it back out to the condiment stand, I was met by a Karen.
K: "WHY DID YOU TAKE THE KETCHUP AWAY FROM MY SON?!
Me: "The ketchup was empty, so I replaced the bag”.
K: "WHY DID YOU TAKE THE KETCHUP AWAY?! GO GET YOUR MANAGER!"
Me: "Uhhh, okay. One minute”.
I walked about two meters, turned around, and introduced myself as the manager.
K: "WHY DID YOU TAKE THE KETCHUP AWAY FROM MY SON?!
Me: "Ma'am, please lower your voice. The ketchup was empty. I explained to your son that I needed to take it back to the kitchen to refill it”.
K: "NO YOU DIDN'T! I WAS STANDING HERE THE WHOLE TIME. YOU TOOK THE KETCHUP AWAY FROM MY SON!"
Me: "Ma'am, please lower your voice. You were not with your son. He was here alone, trying to get ketchup, which was empty”.
K: "DON'T YOU TELL ME WHAT TO DO! DO YOU KNOW WHO YOU'RE DEALING WITH?!"
Me: "Nope. Ma'am, please get your belongings and leave this establishment”.
K: "I WILL NOT LEAVE THIS ESTABLISHMENT! I AM GOING TO BURN THIS PLACE DOWN!"
Other patrons were now visibly upset with what they were witnessing. I was so done at that point, so I called the authorities. The Karen gave a statement while the officers question me. I also gave a statement. I couldn’t believe my ears. Karen told them that I struck her son, pushed him out of the way, and moved the ketchup to an area where her son couldn't get access to the ketchup.
I disputed the claim and offered to provide video evidence (with sound) of what actually happened. They watched the video once, thanked me, and walked out to the eating area.
Officer: "Ma'am, does your son has someone who can look after him?"
K: "HIS FATHER IS AT WORK RIGHT NOW!"
Officer: "Okay. You're being placed under arrest for making threats and a false report”.
Cue more yelling, threats, and tears. In the end, she was charged with making the false report (but not the threats), and received a lifetime ban from not just our restaurant, but the entire mall where our restaurant was located.
I felt bad. Not for the Karen, but for her son. He has to live with that...
Do You Know Who I Am?
I used to work in a call center and I had plenty of Karens who wanted to talk to someone above me because they thought the world existed to cater to them. I always went back into their account to review the notes to see what was done.
9 out of 10 times they were given whatever they wanted even if it wasn't justified. It was so stupid—enabling these people's behavior is what gets them feeling so entitled in the first place. I once told a woman if she didn't pay for her services, after 60 days they'd be interrupted. Her response took me aback.
She responded with: "Excuse me? I'm a valued customer and that is not how I will be treated”. or something to that effect. Absolutely ridiculous.
It’s Never Enoughsmiling girl in black and white striped shirtPhoto by Julien L on Unsplash
Oh heck yeah. Buckle up. I worked as a manager at a chain BBQ restaurant which we will call Popular Charlie’s. There was this lady who we called “Nacho Lady”—I’ll get into why. She was that kind of overweight, holistic living, essential oil, serviceman’s wife. The kind of person who talks to her two-year-old daughter like a coherent adult because she’s going to change the world”.
She had all the “Karen” aesthetics to match. We all dreaded her when she came in. We call her Nacho Lady because whenever she comes by, she orders our nachos at our takeout area. No big deal. But she would want everything on the side. Again, no big deal in most situations because I understand that nachos get soggy really easily, especially to-go.
But what some people don’t like or understand is seeing the actual proportions for everything. Two ounces of anything really isn’t that much. That goes for the cheese, chili, beans, nacho sauce, and all the works. Even though it is all proportioned equally, the customer doesn’t like what they see, and that’s when the backlash happens. The Karen moment started happening.
She didn’t like the actual proportions and demanded more, but refused to pay for it. Our takeout specialists were good at standing up for themselves and the rules.
Of course, she didn’t accept it, so she had to speak to a manager. Myself or two others depending on the day. She would also order two kids’ meals, pork sandwiches, and fries. Again, no big deal, but she was very particular about this one as well.
The pork had to be dry (no BBQ sauce) in a separate container. Kids’ buns toasted, which we don’t usually do. The fries had to be dropped off as soon as she walks in the door so they are crispy and fresh for when she takes them all the way home.
Because of her extreme specifications, it got to the point where only a manager was allowed to take her order and only a manager could review the order with her. This was always the most nerve-wracking part because she would sit down at our waiting table in the takeout area, open every single box and inspect everything.
Also, the way she went about was very...Karen. This is when all the issues would happen. The fries were never hot and fresh and crispy enough, and I sent them back to get new ones. There wasn’t enough of portioned pork for the kid’s sandwich, and she demanded more. There was not enough cheese sauce and shredded cheese, and she demanded more. There were not enough tortilla chips, and you know the rest.
The list went on. And to top it all off, she somehow got a hold of a ton of “free kid’s meal” coupons that were blank—meaning no manager signature, dates, or any sort of validation that she got it legitimately. A coupon is…no big deal…but a typical coupon can only be used one at a time with one transaction.
Only, a Karen being a Karen, she demanded we used two out of the giant stack so she gets her kids’ meals for free. This got to the point where things had to be run by the General Manager. Even if it means calling him on his day off. He was a bit of a wimp and always allowed it, but then she started costing us money.
It wasn’t feasible for her to keep coming back and having her as a customer because 9 times out of 10, we would end up having to send stuff back to the kitchen. A lot of waste. My other manager, Billy, was a fierce woman who never let anyone walk over her, she was awesome. She finally stepped up and made a call over the General Manager’s order and 86ed her.
When that moment came, we all huddled in the office and watched the security cameras as Billy ripped her a new one. That was an unforgettable day. I left and got out of the restaurant industry and management because of how horrible that field can be, but I do love that I have a “Karen” story from it.
A Bunch Of Suck Ups
I work at a vacuum repair shop. People don’t pay attention to their vacuum cleaners as much as you'd think. I can't tell you how many times someone comes to pick up their vacuum and says "Oh this one isn't mine" or "Mine didn’t have scratches down the side".
I'd always reply: "I can tell you it is, and it came in with all those scratches on the side". After the first two times it happened to me, we started taking pictures of the unit with serial numbers and customer information. We’d send them home with the serial number and require them to bring it back for pick up. We thought that would fix everything—but we were wrong.
Despite the evidence, I've had a lady close to tears because we didn’t have her vacuum. Even with the pictures, we had of it at drop off, her information, and the matching serial numbers, she wasn’t buying it. Sure, it's a big conspiracy and we just love taking in vacuums and switching all the information around because it's fun. People need to pay more attention.
Having Her Cake And Eating It Too
I used to work part-time at a bakery inside a grocery store. I dealt with my fair share of Karens during this time. Just to paint this picture of how it would work, we had a binder with laminated copies of about 100 different designs the decorators did regularly.
A customer would look through the book, pick a design they wanted, and fill me in on the details of when they wanted it, what size, what flavor, if any color changes were necessary, etc. Our decorators would come in at 7 AM and stay for however long it took to complete their orders.
So usually, they were gone by early- to mid-afternoon. The bakery closed along with the store at 9 PM. One day, maybe around 8:15 or 8:20 pm, a woman comes in and says she needs a cake. I figure she's referring to the cakes sitting in our cooler, which we keep at the ready in case anybody just wants something quick and simple.
So I motion to the cooler and ask her if she sees anything she likes. Then it starts—every retail worker's nightmare. Apparently, I'm a brilliant comedian because she starts laughing, and goes, "No, sweetie, I need a wedding cake”. Alright, no big deal. I grab an order form and take down her information, and then ask what day she needs it.
Mind you, the store was closing in ~40 minutes, so even if I could decorate a cake, I wouldn't be able to help her. I tell her that there are no decorators present at the moment, but I could make sure it was ready for her first thing the next morning. She's clearly upset by this but says that'd be fine.
I continue taking her order and ask her what size she'd like. Our bakery was not an upscale joint, and our prices reflect that; just about everything comes in frozen. Our cakes come in a variety of predetermined sizes.
She pulls out her phone and thrusts it in my face, saying "Whatever that is”. When I saw the screen, I nearly burst out laughing. On the screen is a very beautiful cake. Smooth white frosting, 7-8 tiers, decorations made in fondant, and blown sugar.
Before I even continue taking the order and dash her hopes when she sees the finished product, I tell her that that just wouldn't be possible. I didn't mean to offend our decorators, but I told her the truth; most of them were exceptionally gifted home bakers who didn't have formal training in terms of a culinary program or decorating school.
I then politely refer her to a more upscale bakery that I knew of that was more equipped to help her than we were. Then the dreaded six words came. "Can I speak to your manager?" At this point in time, I had been working at that bakery for a little over a year, so I was capable enough to close the department on my own.
As such, I was the only one there. I told her this but offered to leave a note with the customer's name and number so my manager could call her tomorrow. "Fine then. Let me talk to a store manager”. There were anywhere between 1-3 store managers who oversaw the entire grocery store and all its departments on staff a night.
So I go to our phone and page a store manager over to the bakery department. The whole time we're waiting, she's staring daggers into me. A manager I was fairly friendly with came to the counter in a few minutes and asked what the problem was.
I briefed her before she went to talk to the customer. The second we get over there, the customer starts spewing lies about me, saying I was rude and refusing to help her. I tried to defend myself, but the manager just told me to keep doing my closing work out back.
10 minutes later she comes back, shaking her head and rubbing her temples. "That witch was crazy”. The customer service industry is a blast.
Thirsting For A Fight
I work as a server part-time. About a month ago, I had a table consisting of a mother, a father, and their son who was around 10. They seemed like a normal family at first—but the whole experience turned sour very quickly.
After I put their order in and got them drinks, I had to visit my three other tables that were sat a couple of minutes before. I took about five minutes, introducing myself to a party of 10 and getting their orders. Then I walked over to “Karen” from the first family because she was waving at me.
She told me that they needed more water. The cup was still half full, but I told her I would bring it as soon as I could. I then went to my other two tables and got their orders...And that's when it happened. All of a sudden, I heard the Karen screaming at a boy who worked in carryout. I went over and see what was wrong. She was upset because I didn’t get her the water immediately and she then started screaming at me. I ran back and got her a whole pitcher of water because she was clearly thirsty.
She proceeded to scream at me because I didn’t get her a son a refill of Sprite even though they didn’t ask (and his cup was 3/4 of the way full). I apologized and went to get the Sprite while alerting my manager of the issue.
While I was getting another Sprite, her husband got up and started cursing in my manager’s face, about three inches from her. Here's the worst part—they didn’t stop yelling and complaining, so my other manager gave them their meal for free and a gift card.
Mind you, this was all over WATER. It took about three minutes after I told them I’d get them water for them to start going insane. I ended up apologizing to my other tables for the disturbance, but they were very understanding and apologized on behalf of the psychotic family.
I couldn’t help but wonder what happens to their son when he doesn’t do exactly what they want.
Good Riddance To Bad Rubbish
I worked at an outdoor gear place for a while. One incident comes to mind though, which involves an ex-Marine who worked at our store fixing bikes. He had to run to the back to grab a part, and as he was going back to the bike shop on the other side of the store, a customer who was already being pretty loud and aggressive with everyone decided to grab my co-worker by the arm very aggressively and try to spin him around to face him. It worked out horribly for him.
His Marine training kicked in, and the next thing I know the angry customer man is laying in the remains of a display about eight feet away. Of course, he jumps up screaming and yelling that he's going sue us and get my co-worker fired, etc.
The manager comes out, hears the story, looks at the security footage, and tells the customer he is never allowed to grab employees like that. He said that he's welcome to call the authorities if he would like because she's willing to press charges against him for assault, and he was banned from our store.
No one at the store was upset about losing that customer. He was kind of notorious for being a jerk and constantly trying to game our return policy.
Cold Cashwoman prayingPhoto by Ben White on Unsplash
I’m not a manager, just a guy who doesn’t put up with stuff. When I was working at the movie theater, I had a woman come in wanting like four movie tickets, which was like $26 or something at the time, and she dumped out a bag of change that wasn’t rolled up or pre-counted.
I asked her if it was counted and she said no. I told her I’m not counting it and that she can step to the side and count it out herself. She threw a fit, saying I had to do it for her. I told her I don’t. That goes back and forth for a minute until she gives out her famous line: “I wanna speak to the manager”.
I just said “no”. She kept demanding and I kept saying no. My manager finally came out because she could hear the woman screaming. She asked what happened and the woman said that I was the rudest employee ever. My manager looked at me and just said, “We are not obligated to count out that large an amount of loose change”.
After she left, the woman kept yelling and I finally told her to go or I’ll gladly call the authorities. I wasn’t actually going to, but it usually scares people straight. She scoffed at me and told me I needed to bag up her money for her. I just told her to have a nice day.
A Magical Appearance
Hoo boy. This brings me back. So, when I was a younger man, I was an assistant manager at Blockbuster Video. For you young'uns out there, before Netflix you would have to go to this place called a video rental store and actually pay money to rent a movie. Once upon a time, they even came on these boxy things called VHS tapes.
So, one day I was working an evening shift, and the phone rang. This woman I'll call Karen was on the other end. She said she got a call earlier in the day about some videos being overdue. She was absolutely livid. I brought up her account on our computer and sure enough, three movies were still out and were due back a week before.
She went ballistic; absolutely screeching at me over the phone that her daughter rented those movies for a sleepover and had returned them. I checked the return bin, but nothing. I even walked out to the floor and check the copies on the shelf to see if maybe it was them. No dice.
Finally, she just screamed at me, accusing me of trying to rip her off. She said she was going to tell her husband, who was an attorney, and he'd sue us all out of existence. I went about the rest of my shift—but I had no idea what was coming. Lo and behold, about an hour later this woman came marching in.
She came right up to the counter and slammed a stack of three VHS tapes on the counter before us, yelling some profanity at the poor clerk. I had witnessed this from the other end when I was checking in returned movies. I looked at the stack of movies and sure enough, they were the ones her daughter had rented and "returned”. But it wasn’t over.
The next day I was also working there and this man in a suit came in. Real friendly guy who asked to speak to management. I walked over to chat with him, and he told me that he was the lawyer. He wanted to apologize for his wife's behavior. I kid you not, he actually said, "We're trying to get her under control. The doctor just prescribed her Xanax”.
It’s Never Enough
I was eating at a cheap, greasy-spoon kind of diner that has been around since the '50s. All the meat is frozen, and pretty much nothing but the coffee and eggs are made fresh. You know what you're getting when you come to this place.
A couple comes in with their two young boys, about six or seven. The mom makes a minor scene about not wanting a booth, but a table. There is an entire wall of booths and multiple tables, but she specifically wants the one in the middle of the room that needs to be bussed since the people that were using it JUST left.
She makes a scene about having to wait for the one busboy handling the entire section to take care of it, even when the manager went and got him to take care of it immediately. At this point, I'm not paying too much attention, but they're sitting literally right next to us.
They order appetizers, steak, shakes for the kids, etc. Their waitress is handling several other tables at the same time—like a third of the floor—and serves some coffee and sliced pie to an elderly couple that came in after the family. Big mistake. Karen throws an absolute hissy fit because "WE WERE HERE FIRST, HOW COME THEY'RE GETTING THEIR ORDERS FIRST?!?!"
The manager comes back out and explains in the most placid tones possible that multiple fried goods and a steak take time to cook, but hot coffee is available all day, and sliced pie is on a display up front so there's no prep time. Karen calms down, but still fumes.
She doesn't allow the boys to get their food (they had a buffet option) until she and the dad's food comes to the table. Once the adult food arrives, Karen just starts tucking in; both boys are just tall enough to see over the edge of the buffet, but not nearly enough to reach tongs or reasonably serve themselves.
A waitress from another section sees them struggling and comes over to help, asking what they want on their plates. Another huge mistake. Karen FLIES to her feet and makes a BIG scene, this time about "How dare you tell my kids what they can and cannot eat! Who do you think you are handling their food?!"
Cue the manager coming out again. The waitress is an older woman, we're talking white hair, and is nearly in tears thinking that she has done something terrible. The manager asks her to go chill in the back a bit while she smooths things over with Karen. Karen now demands balloons (they had them as a special birthday thing) for the kids.
They get balloons, and Karen calms down. The husband and kids are pretty quiet throughout this. The kids seem visibly embarrassed, and the husband is acting like this is pretty normal. The husband's steak comes out last. He's unenthusiastic about it, and Karen calls for the manager A FOURTH TIME to chew her out over the steak being overdone, dry, etc.
They send it back and demand another. Then a third. Let me reiterate; this is a place you go for like, greasy burgers and fries, fish and chips. Steak is on the menu, but realistic expectations and reason mean you're not expecting high quality. You're getting what you pay for.
The manager just kept calm and kept apologizing for their “sub-optimal experience”, but beyond filling minor low-cost demands (for example, the balloons) didn't offer up much. When Karen basically shouted that they would never be coming back, the manager was just like “Sorry to hear that, have a nice night”. An absolute pro.
Onto Bigger, Better Things
I was a manager at Little Caesar's about 15 years ago. I'd typically work three or four closing shifts a week, and then one opening shift. Back then, they ran the $5 pizza thing, but it was typically only on Wednesdays.
Throughout the week, they usually ran "2 pizzas for X dollars" specials. This happened on one of those nights. A male Karen placed an order via phone, and then came to pick it up. I believe he ordered something like a "two pizza" deal, but then wanted bread and sauce when he got there.
Well…he didn't have enough money for the bread and sauce. He only brought enough for the pizza. I told him that I'm sorry and that there was nothing I could do. He looked at me and said angrily, "My kids want that bread”. I repeated to him that there wasn't really much I could do.
I couldn't give away food without it being paid for, as I would get in trouble. Keep in mind, he was there while there were several other customers in the store. Had he been alone, I might have just handed it over. His reaction was otherworldly—He threw an absolute fit, called me several names, and then told me "This isn't over!" and then he left with the pizzas that he paid for.
I found out the next day that he talked to the store manager, and he obviously fabricated quite a bit of the story. The manager then called me at home and screamed me out over the phone. Apparently, I belittled the guy for being “too poor” to afford bread for his kids and I embarrassed him in front of other customers.
In reality, I apologized probably three or four times, and just told him that I would be in trouble if I just start giving stuff away. That was far from all. She decided to write me up for a lack of customer service skills and ended up comping the guy an order of up to $40 to be used whenever he wanted.
He came in the very next day when both the store manager and I were working. I was nothing but pleasant to him even then, and I even apologized if there was a misunderstanding. He still acted like a jerk while I was taking his order. He threw in a few "the customer is always right" mentions and "the younger generation doesn't know how to treat customers”.
Whatever, I'm glad the store manager was there that day—because I had a plan. I made his pizzas very well, then I tossed them, put them onto the oven conveyor, making a slight mess, and then told the store manager that I refuse to work there anymore, especially not for a "has-been who treats her employees like garbage”.
I walked out and told the guy to enjoy his pizza. I worked there for two years. I had a 9-5 manufacturing job a few days later at a small family-owned company right near home. I had no clue that some companies actually treated their employees like human beings until I worked there.
Nothing Comes For Free
I'm not in retail anymore, but I was managing a popular mid-range handbag store. Think "typical Karen bag", about $200-400. Anyway, most customers were fantastic. This one woman, however, was this Shrek-looking large redheaded lady who stomped in and demanded that we repair her 20-year-old bag for FREE.
If we couldn't do that, she demanded that we exchange this old ratty, smelly 20-year-old bag for a brand new one for her. Recently policy changes resulted in new prices for this service, but free repairs had about a one-year warranty on a new bag...not a 20-year-old one. I told her as such.
I was pretty young to have had the role I did, so she, dissatisfied with my answer, asked to speak to a manager. I told her I was the manager and she began turning as red as her hair. She screamed and yelled about how she'll call corporate and never shop here again!
Well, that sounds like a real loss, losing a customer who is too cheap to repair a 20-year-old bag and hasn't bought new from us in just as long. I give her my best customer service grin and say, "I’m so sorry, that’s just the policy”. She demanded the company’s number.
I gave her the customer service line that you can find on Google, unbeknownst to her. She huffed away, forgetting her keys on the counter. She's halfway out and she remembered, turned around, red as a beet. She huffed in my smiling face and snatched the keys off the counter.
It was hilarious. She came back months later, worked with a different person on the team, and didn't even look my way.
Agree To Disagreea person is using a pos machine in a storePhoto by Simon Kadula on Unsplash
This Karen was trying to return a board game that was open and obviously played without a receipt. I offered store credit, but she wouldn’t take it and asked for my manager. He came up to the counter and discussed the situation with her.
It devolved into the old argument: “Well, in my day the customer was always right”. My manager then cocked his head slightly before shutting her down: “Iiiiiiiiiiiiiii’ve never really subscribed to that theory”. Store credit was given.
I’m a former fast food worker reporting about a male Karen. He came through the drive-thru and handed me what I knew to be a fake $100 bill. I knew it was fake, but the process was to make sure the deposit box bill feeder didn't accept it. Well of course it didn't, because it was super fake. Naturally, the male Karen did NOT like what I was insinuating.
So he pulls around and comes inside, yelling and calling me names because I wouldn't take his fake 100. He called for the manager and I bailed to the back because I wanted to leave the twilight zone.
Talking The Talk
Here’s a twist: I had an actual Karen as a manager. She was two-faced, played favorites, and had this annoying nervous laugh she would use at the end of everything she said. As if to punctuate the idiocy of her statement. I think, ha-ha, that we should try it this way, ha-ha. Because it, ha-ha, might, ha-ha, work better. YES!!! She talked just like that.
I love letting Karens scream themselves hoarse for a few minutes, then asked with a completely straight face: "Do you want a cookie?" Then right before their heads exploded, I'd point to the bakery case and say: "It's free! You can have a free cookie while we try to work this out for you”.
Most were too stunned by the switcheroo and ashamed of their overreaction to stay mad even if they declined. For those who accepted, it's even harder to stay mad while munching on a free cookie. Nine times out of 10, I could quickly resolve whatever issue they had by offering a minimal consolation like a gift card or a coupon.
It’s Never Enough
I think the one standout I remember was a few years ago when my company, which was a cell phone provider, gave everyone unlimited data for like three months for no charge. It was essentially a stress test on our network, but everyone was getting free data so it wasn’t like anyone could complain. Or so I thought.
I talked to one lady who had demanded a manager because unlimited phone data wasn’t enough, they wanted unlimited data on their hotspot as well. She then threatened to "get us all fired" because we wouldn’t give her unlimited data through her hotspot, which was actually a feature we didn’t even offer paying customers at the time.
She ranted and raved for a while, and we ended up passing her between like five levels of supervisors before she gave up.
Would You Like Fries With That?French friesPhoto by Louis Hansel on Unsplash
I used to work as a manager at a sandwich shop. Our policy for any pickup orders was to not cook their fries until the customer came in so that they have fresh fries. This is always told to the customer on the phone. I had this one witch call in her order and ask me if I could cook the fries immediately so that she didn’t have to wait for them.
I told her I couldn’t do that because if she doesn’t come in to pick her order up within about five minutes, those fries will be soggy and cold. She seemed to understand this. Well, guess what happened? She ends up showing up about 45 minutes after she placed the order and proceeded to yell at me because her fries weren’t ready.
I explained to her that if I had cooked her fries when she placed the order, they would be very cold and soggy because she took 45 minutes to pick her order up. She didn’t care. She continued to yell at me about how she was a nurse and has no time to wait for the fries.
I told her oh well, you either need to wait for them to cook (which takes literally two minutes to cook) or leave. She waited. What a witch.
I worked at a grocery store in high school, and last summer I came back for it as my summer job. We did this ten-for-$10 deal where we'd have a bunch of stuff sale for a buck a piece, and then the 11th was free.
We were open 24 hours, but all of our sales kicked in at 6 am, and we weren't allowed to change it early in the register, as it's clearly stated on the first page of the flier and in the app—this is important. I'd sometimes work the third shift if they needed someone to fill in.
So we had this woman come in with literally a cart full of tuna at 4 am. There were easily 300-400 of them, as she had just taken the stand-up display boxes off the shelf. Of course, none of them ring up as on sale, and she starts screaming at the girl in front. The girl is explaining that this is how our policy works, and she's yelling about false advertising and how she deserves the price change.
I go up and tried to placate her, and she starts fuming all over again. I zoom in on the bit where it says are prices are only good at 6 am—and she goes PURPLE. “ARE YOU REALLY ARGUING WITH A CUSTOMER RIGHT NOW?!” I tell her I'm not, just pointing out what the ad says and she insists on seeing the manager.
He tells her the same thing the two of us already had, and she screamed about not knowing “Why she even bothered to shop here”. I didn't go back to that job this summer.
What A Dough Head
I’m a kitchen chef in a pizzeria. We occasionally get this lady who orders a pizza and then tries to complain about it in order to get it for free. We always deny her and she always threatens to give us a bad review on Yelp or complains to whoever is unfortunate enough to be on the phone with her.
I can still remember my worst moment dealing with her. One time, she ordered a pizza with gluten-free crust and complained that the crust was “too doughy”, so she demanded it be given to her for free. Gluten-free crusts are as crispy as a cracker when they come out of the oven and are almost the same while we make them.
Even if someone didn’t bake it in the oven beforehand for whatever reason, it’s virtually impossible for it to be doughy. For about a week, all of us would tell each other, “Make sure that it isn’t too doughy” as a joke when we had to make gluten-free pizzas.
What’s the male version of a Karen? Would it be Dave? I'm going with Dave. So I'm opening a call center offshore, and this customer Dave refuses to speak to anybody who isn't American. I'm American but was working at that site during that project phase, so when the call escalates to me his first question was “Are you in the US”? At that time that was a no—an unacceptable answer for Dave, which flew him into a rage.
He hung up. He spent three hours calling and hanging up. He'd ask to speak to an American, they'd transfer to me, then he'd ask me if I was in the US. Three hours of the same process.
Off The Deep End
One time a Karen tried to return an expensive handbag that had obviously been used. She said I was calling her a liar and her anger escalated as she paced back and forth at the till point. It escalated so quickly.
Karen then proceeded to tell me that she was going to call in some guys to “come after me” after I finish work. Throughout this, I am politely repeating my request that Karen leaves, but in hindsight, I think this must have been rather annoying…as Karen proceeded to grab the bag and launch herself over the till at me in an attempt to hit me with it.
At this point in time, a colleague who was yet to start their shift (and therefore appeared as a customer) was on the shop floor and witnessed it all. They tackled Karen into the wall, knocking down glass shelves that had been displaying around 30 bags. Karen is now a crumpled mess on the floor. Appearing shocked, she stumbles upright and runs away.
Doing What’s Rightselective focus photography of Closed signagePhoto by Evan Wise on Unsplash
Work at a Barnes and Noble cafe. About an hour before closing, a Karen comes in and I proceed to take her order. Karen wasn’t a regular, yet she was getting snooty just because I asked her what she'd like and if she wanted it hot or cold.
She tells me in the most condescending way she wants an iced mocha. I go to make the drink. I hand it to her, tell her to have a nice night, and turn around to talk to the two other people at the counter. As we're talking, she shouts at us that it's wrong, and demands we make another drink.
Her complaint was that it was cold and she wanted it warm. Whatever, I apologized and made another one even though the first time I asked her, I held up the clear cup and wrote everything in front of her to verify it was right. Anyway, I grabbed the paper cup and started to make another one.
All the while, she was talking about how young people don't respect anyone, and she kept berating us for talking while working, making fun of personal stuff like the movie we were discussing, how we were dressed, our accents (this is in Alabama and she's obviously not Southern).
After about two minutes of this, I was fed up, so I finished the drink and went to hand it to her. But as she was taking it, she uttered the most triggering words: "I bet you stupid disrespectful kids don’t even know how to spell mocha, especially him”. She then pointed at the one Black barista. I’d had enough. I yanked the drink back out of her hand and threw it in the garbage can like it was a baseball.
I then ripped my apron off, came out from behind the counter, got right in her face, and I really laid it into her. I inform her that her behavior wasn’t something we tolerate, tell her there was a camera above us with sound recording everything, tell her that because she bought a five-dollar drink doesn't give her the right to talk to anyone let alone us that way and ask her who in the heck she thinks she is. But I’m not done yet.
I get even closer and tell her that the store might want her business, but I sure as heck don’t, and she can take her refund and get out. I don't even go to the register, I take five dollars out of my own wallet, some odd cents out of my pocket, back up, and throw it at her feet. I point at the door and tell her to get the heck out of my cafe.
I'm not even a manager but it felt right at the time. The whole time, Karen's eyes are as wide as dinner plates in shock. She sheepishly picks the money off the floor, every cent, gains her voice, and starts screaming at the top of her lungs that we're not getting away with this, she's gonna call corporate and get our useless butts fired, and then she'd find out where we lived, burn our houses down, and hurt every last one of our pets and family members.
And that's not all—once she made it to the doorway, she throws her shoes at us, hitting a display stand of chips.
She leaves and peels out, nearly hitting two people in the parking lot. I pick up the shoes, throw them in the nearest trash can, pick up the chips, calmly put my apron back on, go back behind the counter, and finish what I was saying about the movie.
The other two baristas didn't know what to say and kept warning me about how I'm going to get fired. Nothing ever came of it, no real manager ever talked to me about it, and I never heard from her again. I felt bad about it, as I'd never been that angry and have never gotten that angry since.
It wasn't even what she said to me that set me off, but how she talked to the two that did literally nothing wrong. I realize now I'm not sorry for it and she really deserved to be thrown out of the store. Most of the time it's not worth it to react that way, but man sometimes you just have to stand up to Karens.
In The Privacy Of Your Own Truck
A truly awesome supervisor had my back when I was threatened on the job. I was a pretty meek young lady at the time of this story, and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't still, but I've grown a bit. The management at this establishment was pretty awesome in general, honestly.
So I was working a truck stop swing shift. It was a hot summer afternoon, and I was on the side dealing with large semi-truck pumps. Note that I actually like this side better since other than the occasional jerk, the truckers are normally more polite than your average general customer, believe it or not.
So one of my co-workers is doing perimeter garbage pickup and comes to the desk to tell me someone is on one of the truck pumps peeing in a bottle. Not in his cab, oh no. This guy is going in full view of RVs with families in them. He is on one of the closer pumps, so it's maybe two minutes at a crawl to get to the bathrooms inside the store.
If he'd been in his truck, who cares, it's not the most disgusting thing someone's done in a truck, trust me. But no, out where God and everyone can see him. As is the procedure when someone is doing something frowned upon at a pump, I get on the PA system for a GENERAL UNTARGETED announcement.
I do not say pump numbers. I do not give descriptions. "I would like to remind all customers there are restrooms inside the store for your convenience, and that you are on camera on the pumps”. Just that. No identifying information. Could have been anybody. Little did I know I just put myself in the line of fire.
Sure enough, about 60 seconds after this, a big guy comes strolling in, belly hanging out of the bottom of his barely fitting tank top, and is SCREAMING at the top of his lungs at me behind the desk: "HOW DARE YOU SAY SOMETHING LIKE THAT!? YOU EMBARRASSED ME! I HAVE A BLADDER PROBLEM! YOU MAKE AN ANNOUNCEMENT LIKE THAT AGAIN AND I’LL MESS YOU UP!"
My supervisor is standing right there. Note that he is about a foot shorter than this trucker and sure as heck, he looks right up at him and says clear as day, "No, you're going to remove yourself from the store immediately”.
The blubbering for a solid 10 seconds was priceless before the guy started flipping us off and yelling that he'd never come back as he left. I never said anything, though I dearly wanted to say that nobody embarrassed him but himself, since nobody would have known who I was talking about if he hadn't screamed it for the whole world.
Oh well. AJ, you're awesome, hope you're doing well. And PSA: Don’t pee in a bottle where everyone can see you, please. I would like to make it clear I understand bladder issues are a thing, and sometimes emergencies are NOW not two minutes from now, but he had a perfectly good truck cab right there with a sleeper unit for all the privacy in the world.
I was a loss prevention manager at a retail store. Part of my job was to be the “no” guy. If there was a customer we were not able to help and they started becoming hostile, I was the one who went to defuse the situation. That’s because if it escalated, I was the only one certified to touch a customer if it came down to safety and security issues.
At this particular time, a Karen was at guest services with her small child in a shopping cart. Karen was super frustrated with my employee, who was trying to tell her that she could not return the DVD she had purchased for multiple reasons. She didn’t have a receipt, for one. She could have used an ID to return it, however, the DVD was also opened and had a scratch on it as well.
I can already hear her screaming as I approach, so I had an idea of what was going on already. She immediately begins yelling at me about how my employee doesn’t know the store policy and that she just wants to return the DVD. I explained to her that it was not only store policy, but also a copyright law involved since it was an unwrapped, open, and apparently used DVD. Despite all that, she still wouldn't let go.
She said, “Ok well I got home, opened it, and there was a scratch on it, so now what?” I told her in that case within our policy and the law I can of course exchange that for the same item, however, I would have to open it before she leaves so that no laws are broken and she doesn’t try to return it elsewhere.
After more screaming and cursing in front of her child, she finally says, “Fine I don’t want to return it anymore you can just have it!” Then she winds up and frisbees the DVD past my head. Here’s the best part. She leaves kicking and screaming, and about 30 minutes later I get a call from guest services, and it’s the same lady.
This time she says she talked to her husband and there was a misunderstanding, and she would like her DVD back. I “sadly” had to tell her, “I’m sorry ma’am we have already added that to the trash compactor”. If I really wanted to, I could have done something to help her for only $10, but with the way she was acting, there was no way I was doing anything to encourage that behavior.
Driving Me Up The Wall
I was the general manager of a company renting moving trucks. At the time, the equipment we rented consisted of F-150 pickups, E-250 cargo vans, and box trucks from ranging 10 to 26 feet.
The company owns all the box trucks, but the vans and pickups were part of a weird lease deal.
Because of this and the fact that they were more likely to be stolen, we had different rules for those vehicles. A Karen came into my store and requested to rent one of the cargo vans.
"No problem. I need to see your driver's license and a credit card”.
"Oh, no. I just want to pay the $100”.
I already know this is going to suck. If you want to pay cash for a box truck rental, you pay a $100 deposit unless your pre-rental estimate is more. We did once accept cash deposits on the vans, but it was $1,000. This didn't last long. A few months after this story, no cash deposits were accepted for the vans or pickups.
"I'm sorry mam, the vans, and pickups have different rules. I can take a cash deposit but it would be $1,000. Or—" I explained.
"$1,000!!!!! Do I look like I have $1,000 cash on me!?!??" Karen interrupted.
"Or," I continued, "we can authorize a credit card for the estimated rental total”.
"I only have $100 cash,” yelled Karen.
"I understand. I'm sorry, but my system will not let me do that. I can do the 14' box truck with the $100 deposit. It has the same daily rate and is only $0.10 per mile more”. I say this as I gesture toward the box truck outside the window.
"That's too big. We are just moving a couch a few houses away. Just give me the van” Karen says as she slides what, at a glance, does not appear to be $100 worth of small bills across the counter.
I push the cash back to her and again explain that the rental requirements for the vans and pickups differ from the rest of our motorized fleet. This time I print out and highlight the pertinent sections of the differing policies. I emphasize that releasing a vehicle to her without following the policy would result in my immediate termination.
If there haven't been enough flags this far into a conversation, this is my go-to shibboleth to distinguish the desperate from the despicable. Essentially, if I tell you doing a thing will cost me my job and you still insist on it, you are a piece of garbage. Upon failure, I know immediately what to do. I tend to immediately change tact with these people.
No smiles, no friendly service. You get cold, curt responses and if you insist again, I might boot you from my store.
Karen immediately failed. "I don't care about all this. I only want the van. Just take the cash”.
"No”. In my head, I said the word in a way that didn't convey a negative response so much as it implied that I wished Karen found herself underneath a moving bus.
Karen scooped her cash and license from the counter and waddled toward the door in a determined fashion. She threw the door open, stepped one foot out, turned, and yelled, "I'm going to talk to my boyfriend”. She attempted to slam the door but was foiled by the hydraulic damper.
Because she had parked in front of the door instead of a parking spot, I could see her as she approached the open passenger window of the small green sedan she had arrived in. Karen began to yell and gesticulate, arms waving in wild abandon, at the occupant in the passenger seat.
I watched as a new customer crossed the lot, turning his head to avoid eye contact as he passed her on his approach to the door. Once safely inside and the door closed behind him, he stopped, shook his head, and approached the counter.
"Hey man, I just need some propane,” the new customer said. He turned and nodded toward the door. "She's having a day, huh?"
"The fun never stops,” I replied as I reached under the counter for our mobile credit card device. I mentally braced myself for re-entry into Karen's audible radius. Mercifully, I was spared. Her prescribed boyfriend had exited the vehicle and the pair were making their way across the lot near the cargo van.
Seizing the opportunity, I led my new customer out the door and toward our propane dispenser. This consisted of a small area surrounded by yellow-painted steel bollards, a steel pump cabinet, and a vertical 3000-gallon tank extending some 20 feet in the air. The new customer and I stood wordlessly, occasionally casting glances in Karen's direction.
The pump is very loud and generally drowns out conversation anyway. With the new customer's tank filled, I shut down the pump. As he loaded it in his truck, I entered the sale on the handheld device. In the background, Karen is following her boyfriend to look at the 14' box truck I suggested.
The handheld device decided to refuse the sale. Restarting the device took about five minutes so I advised the customer that we should just run it inside. This turned out to be a horrible idea. A commotion from Karen's direction drew our attention as we crossed the lot.
The boyfriend was walking toward the car. Karen was waddling toward the door. A new customer and I made it inside with just enough of a gap to justify not holding the door open. As we reached our respective positions at the counter, Karen erupted through the door. I knew it was about to get crazy.
"I WAS HERE FIRST” she bellowed.
The new customer threw up his hands and backed away from the counter. Karen maneuvered into the space, flashing what could charitably be described as a smile at the other customer and then to me.
"I want to rent the van”. She stated with a tone of forced civility, depositing the cash onto the counter. Ah, the witness gambit. She may be a Karen, but I had already served more than a decade of my sentence in customer service. The assumption that I would suddenly bend to her will now that she had an audience was an amateur move.
Many try it, often raising their voice to attract as much attention as possible. I smile through her and adopt the tone a bank teller would use to inform someone that their account is overdrawn...by several thousand dollars.
"I'm so sorry mam”. I dart my eyes to the new customer and back to ensure he can hear me, "As I explained before, the cargo van requires a $1,000 cash deposit or a valid credit card authorization for the estimated rental amount. The policy is firm and any attempt on my part to circumvent it would result in my termination”.
The new customer raised an eyebrow and I continued, "I am happy and willing to rent the 14' box truck on a $100 deposit. The move you described before should be well within that amount and the remainder would be refunded during the return”.
What ensued was a scene that was painful to endure. Karen, sensing the round was lost, changed strategies for the counter-attack. She began to cry.
"But...but that other truck is too big. I'm scared. Please give me the van” she blubbered through crocodile tears. My riposte was ready immediately. "For the third time, ma’am, I cannot do that. I would lose my job. The box truck is based on the same vehicle chassis and is just as easy to drive. If your boyfriend has a valid license and would be comfortable with it, I can add him as a driver”.
Karen's expression flattened, abandoning the fake crying faster than she had started it.
"Fine”. She grumbled through her teeth.
"Excellent, may I see your driver's license please?"
Karen rummaged through her worn purse, produced the card, held it up for about three-quarters of a second, and thrust it back into the depths from which it came. She smiled like a child in a game of keep away. The new customer rolled his eyes but said nothing.
"I'm sorry, I misspoke. I need to hold the license during the contract process. May I have the card please?"
Determined to achieve new heights of unpleasantness, Karen crossed her arms and barked "WHAT FOR?"
Equally committed to maintaining a contrasting demeanor, I replied, "I need different information at different points in the contract process. I need to hold it for reference. We also inspect the license itself to make sure it’s not fake”. I added that last line with a faint, suggestive, smirk and extended an open hand above the counter.
Karen, looking as if she might try to bite it, instead made a point of slamming her license down on the counter near my hand. She then pulled the card back toward herself before releasing it. I leaned forward and retrieved it.
The rest of the transaction took the form of precisely worded questions, curt responses, and clarifying questions where required. Nearing the end, I gestured to a small display on the credit card machine that was now featuring the breakdown of her rental estimate.
"This is showing the estimated rental charges based on the mileage you told me. The $100 deposit is due at this time”.
Wordlessly, Karen pushed her cash to the center of the counter. I picked it up and sorted it by denomination. My suspicion from before was confirmed. She was short. This was perfect. I counted each and every note with a running total.
"I'm sorry mam, I counted short of $100. Do you have the difference?"
"That's all I have. It's more than the estimate. Just finish this so I can go”.
"Oh, I'm sorry mam. Policy requires the full $100 deposit”. I said this with a smile.
Mount St Karen erupted. She clawed at the now neat stack of cash and pulled it away and screamed.
"I WANT TO SPEAK TO THE MANAGER!" She yelled.
I tugged at my name tag and pointed it at her.
"I am the general manager of this location”.
"GET ME YOUR SUPERVISOR!" The tears were coming back.
"My direct supervisor is not available at this location. His office is 40 miles away. I'm happy to try to resolve any issues, or you may call our corporate number. An operator will take any relevant notes, open a case, and forward it to me for resolution”.
I usually didn't mention that complaints made to corporate about me ultimately get forwarded back to me to resolve. Sure, sometimes someone else might look at it but as far as the company was concerned, problems at my store were my problems. In this case, I found satisfaction in clarifying the situation.
Karen turned to the door and waddled as fast as her legs were able. I let her reach the door before completing my revenge. "Ma’am, your license?" This was a petty move, I admit.
Karen paused before turning and scrambling back toward the counter. I set the card gently in the center and steered my eyes back to the screen. By the time she was on the other side of the door, I was nearly finished filling out the form that black-listed her name and license from our company.
The new customer approached the counter, wide-eyed at the interaction he had the misfortune to witness.
Dropping back into my normal speaking voice, I nodded to him and said, "Sorry, I just need a few seconds to finish this form”.
He returned the nod and leaned against the counter—but we had relaxed too soon. Karen now threw the front door open and screamed.
"YOU WON'T RENT TO ME BECAUSE I'M WHITE AND I'M A WOMAN!"
Forgetting her earlier struggle with the door damper, she repeated her attempt to slam the door and nearly fell. The new customer was unable to suppress a burst of laughter and covered his mouth. Karen steadied herself and waddled to car.
A moment later, we heard the characteristic noise of a starter motor grinding against an already-running engine. This time, I cracked a laugh as well.
Karen's little sedan set off with a pained chirp from one of her tires.
"Oh my God,” exclaimed the new customer, "that lady has problems”.
"Dunno, man. Sorry about the wait”. I replied.
"Do people act like that a lot?" Clearly, this new customer never did time in customer service.
"The fun never stops…”
Not that it matters, but I'm also white. My job had nothing to do with age, race, orientation, or whatever. My job was to take your money. I rented to nearly everyone from everywhere in that job. As long as your poops were in a group, you got what you wanted.
One For The Money
This is one of the best things I've ever seen. So, I worked for a mostly virtual bank. We didn't have branches, but we had what were effectively kiosks at grocery stores, which is where I worked on my own. No doors, and no cash service (you had to go to the ATM just outside the kiosk), but I could help with other things.
A 40-ish-year-old woman came in because her husband had passed a few days earlier and she needed to sort out his accounts. As was not uncommon, she was crying a bunch through the entire process…and I hate the fact that I can't offer her better privacy. I'm right in the main entryway, and everyone walking by can see her.
Anyway, a customer I’ll call Mr. Dimwit goes to my ABM and I guess it took his debit card. He can 100% see that I'm with someone, and 100% see that she's crying. Meanwhile, I'm on the phone talking to one of the departments we need. Nonetheless, he decides to interrupt (by shouting from where he is) and tell me the machine took his card.
This can happen for a few reasons: He could have timed out the transaction, he could have had suspicious activity on his card, or the ABM could be malfunctioning. But, by far, the most common thing is that the guy tried to put a damaged card into the machine—something we had a bunch of signs saying not to do.
I let him know that I can see what happened and get him a new card, but it'd be 30-40 minutes. Then I go back to help the widow. But it wasn’t over. Another customer, Mr. Karen, then goes to the ABM and it takes his card too. He's clearly frustrated, but looks like he's about to leave when Mr. Dimwit walks over to him and says, "Yeah, it did the same me, and he (pointing to me) won't do anything about it".
Again, ABMs take cards all the time. The fact that it took one from someone else doesn't mean I know it needs to be placed as “out of order”, and I'm a bit busy trying to sensitively help a woman whose husband just passed. Mr. Karen doesn't know this, but he can see I'm with someone who's in tears.
But he doesn't care, so he starts yelling and swearing at me. The widow looks awful, and I feel awful for her. So I basically just apologize to the guy, say I'll put a sign saying the machine is out of order, and that I'll be happy to help him when I'm done. He goes off to buy his groceries, and I put a sign-up, apologize to the widow and go back to help her.
A little bit later, Mr. Karen has bought his groceries and is leaving, but decides to stop and yell at me some more. He tells me that I've ruined his day, and then mentions the widow I'm sitting with and says I must be a "totally incompetent idiot” to have upset her that much. Oh boy, this set off a chain reaction. The widow lets out an absolutely primal scream like I've never heard before, gets up, and goes and pushes the guy in the chest.
Not going to lie, what happened next is one of the best things I've ever seen happen. He falls back into his cart and hits the back of his head on the cart. Some of the store employees, including the store manager, come over to help the guy. He tells them "the witch” in my office went crazy and pushed him. And here’s where it peaks.
I cut in with "Dude, you slipped. I know you're embarrassed, but she was sitting in my office the whole time". Mr. Karen just looks at me, then her, and leaves.
The widow asks me if I'll get in trouble for lying to "my manager", and I say I don't really care. I’m a banker at a grocery store, it's not my dream job and I don't work for the store anyway. But when we were done, she went up front and told the manager the truth.
I wasn't there when it happened, but I was told that Mr. Karen came back to complain the next day. One final victory. The manager said he'd reviewed the tapes, which showed he slipped. The guy got angry, the manager told him he'd call the authorities and charge him with trespassing, and he left again.
I was told that by other employees, though; I never heard another word about it from the manager.
Bird Brainwhite and red labeled pack on white shelfPhoto by Franki Chamaki on Unsplash
Years ago, I was managing a store in a local pet store chain. I was young and often dismissed as a manager. One night a woman walks up to me holding a normal parakeet cage, about $30 and asks me if she buys the cage can we "throw in" extra perches, food, and other accessories?
I politely tell her I can't do that but I can get her a discount if she's buying all those items. She instantly flips her lid and starts reading me the riot act...telling me she works retail and knows I am supposed to do whatever makes the customer happy.
This goes on for a short while, with her never giving me a chance to get a word in. She then sets the cage down and storms out of the store. We all sort of laughed it off, even a few customers who saw it go down were saying things like "I don't know how you deal with people like that”.
About half an hour later, my cashier tells me there is an angry woman on the phone, obviously the same woman, wanting to speak to the manager. I pick up the phone and introduce myself. She immediately starts telling me about her awful experience with the "rude kid" I have working for me.
She rehashes the entire situation with all sorts of embellishments mixed in. I was absolutely shocked—she said that when she approached the "rude kid" he was throwing ferrets into the ferret pen from 10 feet away. She was saying I was playing "ferret basketball". Obviously, this never happened.
She told me that she simply asked if there was a discount for large purchases because she was buying an "expensive parrot cage" and all the necessary supplies for her "expensive parrot" and would be spending well over $500. Again, literally, not a single part of that was true.
But the "rude kid" told her that cheap people don't get discounts and if she can afford a $500 cage and a $2k parrot she can pay full price. The entire time I just let her rant on, trying not to laugh. So I finally tell her I can give her corporate's number. She says no, she just wants me to know what type of people I have working for me and how I (he) should be fired.
I asked who it was and started describing myself. She confirms and I said, "Well ma'am, you might want to take the number for corporate and tell them anyway, because I am the “rude kid” you talked to, none of what you just told me actually happened, and we have 24-hour surveillance cameras in the store. I can pull up the entire ordeal in case my own manager would like to see what really happened”.
She screamed at the top of her lungs, “Screw you punk!" and slammed down the phone. We didn't actually have cameras, but I knew the bluff was enough. It was quite a satisfying moment. I had many "You are speaking to him" moments in my old career, but that was the best because she was so crazy.
Do Not Touch
I saw an account terminated and their address PERMANENTLY banned from service by a senior Vice President. The lady called in to try to restart her service, then proceeded to complain and ask for management when she was told she couldn't.
I can't even imagine the amount of complaining she had to have done to get to the senior VP level, since even major escalations only get to a level that's like three levels below that. I read the notes, looked at the account,and my eyes widened—she had 6+ service calls every month for 3+ years.
This lady apparently called in almost every day to complain and ask for credits due to her service not working. The address was blocked, and the notes basically said, "This address will never get service again. If this lady somehow gets service from this company again, everybody involved will be fired".
More Than She Bargained For
I was the assistant manager at a large women's clothing store, and we had a woman come in with some items and a gift receipt. Store policy is that item returns with a gift receipt are not given back in cash, they are given in gift cards. Madness ensues.
Karen gets so upset that she is forced to leave, and on her way out, she pulled the ultimate Karen move—she slams the glass door and it shatters. Since we had her information because she left her receipt, she was sent a bill for the door.
Do You Know Who I Am?
Try dealing with Karen when you’re an officer. “Do you know who my husband is?” “You better not touch me. My husband is so and so” Yea ok, well tell me who your husband is on your way to the clinker, lady. Or Karen a military officer’s wife: “My husband is a captain. Where’s my salute?”
The worst incident happened at a cafe I used to work at. We had a woman with Down Syndrome who worked three days a week. She is very sweet and helpful and one of our family friends. The town I worked in has a huge influx of tourists in the summer, so I'm used to all kinds of people.
A man and his wife came in and ordered a smoothie and an iced americano. Because I was trained as a barista, I'm aware of the difference between an americano and coffee but usually, I use the term "coffee" because I found that a lot of customers didn't know the difference or really care as long as they got their caffeine.
So when I read back the order I said coffee instead of americano. He clarified that it was an Americano and not a brewed coffee. I told him that we only had an espresso machine so it would definitely be an Americano. I made his wife's smoothie and handed it to the woman with Down Syndrome and told her which woman to give it to.
A minute or so later she came back with the smoothie. I asked her what was wrong with it because the woman didn't take it. She said she didn't know, but the woman refused to take it. I took it out to her and asked what was wrong with it. I’m still disgusted at her response. She said straight up that she didn't feel comfortable with my co-worker taking it out, implying her discomfort was because she had special needs.
I firmly told her that she was an employee there and was very competent. I then went to make her husband's drink. I made the iced americano and called his name and said "iced coffee" out of habit. He sat and looked at me, so I said "sir, your drink is ready", already irritated by his wife. He came up and said to me "I ordered an iced americano, not an iced coffee”.
Kind of exhausted by the two, I told him that it was indeed an iced americano. He proceeded to explain to me, the trained barista, the difference between a brewed coffee and an espresso drink...after I had already clarified previously that we only had an espresso. I looked him in the eyes and said firmly "there are two shots of espresso, water, and ice in this cup”.
He then replied with "uh huh" and then had the nerve to ask me if my co-worker with special needs had made it. So I told him (not so nicely) that he could take the drink or not and he could also leave my place of work if he would not treat people with respect. My manager only reprimanded me for swearing during this exchange.
I’m The Only One Who Mattersred and gold theater seatsPhoto by Giusi Borrasi on Unsplash
I was a House Manager at a big performing arts venue, and I encountered my worst Karen at a Saturday night showing of The Book of Mormon. I still feel rage when I think about it. Karen’s problem? Just a young man seated in front of her in his standard-size wheelchair (a veteran no less, as I later discovered) and his older parents, who were seated next to him in banquet-style seats.
A bit of background: The banquet seats are what we used when we had mobility requests. We would remove a small, strategically located section of seats to make an empty place for the mobility device, then place the banquet seats for the other ticketed spots.
The venue used those specific seats precisely because they were the exact same height as the theatre seats. Karen didn’t care though! Those people were ruining her view and they needed to go. And no, she wouldn’t move to a no-show seat! Didn’t I know how much money she spent on these tickets??
But when I said I wouldn’t other patrons, who had also bought the expensive tickets, well then how dare I bring up money!! That’s hardly the point!
And on, AND ON she ranted—gesturing wildly, with her designer purse and gold-ringed fingers.
She ranted through the entire 18-minute intermission while I tried to quietly shut her up somehow. It was excruciating. I even had security on standby.
The shrill voice that emanated from her white, toothy maw was a weapon in its own right—enough to make a whistle jealous. The worst part, however, is she was so extremely rude that the family of the man with the wheelchair decided to leave anyway.
I tried SO hard to make other arrangements for them, for free—tickets on another day, or to another show, or even just a refund for that night. They were very kind to me but just wanted to go home. Meanwhile, Karen got to go back in and watch the rest of the show.
Man, screw that entitled witch Karen. I hope she has to leave halfway through every show she ever goes to for the rest of her miserable, unsatisfied life.
The most obnoxious part for me was how tirelessly argumentative Karens are, but yet always about stuff where they're either totally wrong or it just plain does not matter.
"X is supposed to come with strawberries!" X doesn't; Z does though. I can make you Z instead, or add strawberries to X for $8. "No, X is supposed to come with them already”. (Shows them a menu to verify) "I don't know why that says that because X is supposed to come with strawberries”. So do you want me to make X with strawberries then? "X already is supposed to come with strawberries!"
Like lady, I don't know what else to say. You aren't gonna argue your way into being correct. Your options are to say "add strawberries to X" or "make me Z" just pick one, I do not care, and please move to the side while you ponder your options.
A Slice Of Life
I used to work at a cafe/bakery and was there when our manager ripped a Karen a new one. One of my co-workers was about 18 and had a really awful home life. So this lady (about 50) comes in and orders alongside someone who I presume was her friend. My co-worker takes the orders to them.
Overall she was being snippy and demanding with him, but the worst part comes when she picks up her pizza and rips it apart. She then says to him, "This isn't even sliced all the way through, you'd think you'd be able to figure that out by now”. I swear my manager almost came unglued.
I've never seen veins bulge so far out of someone's head before or since. You could tell he was summoning every ounce of his strength not to chew her out right in the middle of the bakery. He immediately kicked both women out and told them they weren't welcome back.
They asked for the owner when he informed them he was the manager, but when the owner finally arrived he concluded that the women were barred as well. They threatened to call the authorities but didn't since we gave them their money back.
I still can't fathom how anyone could be so insensitive.
Nowhere To Go But Down
I’m the head of a complaints department for an international chain, and Karens are basically my bread and butter.
To speak to me, they have to have escalated their concerns through agents, supervisors, and managers, all of whom are empowered to resolve complaints.
Many a time the conversation has gone:
“Unfortunately Karen, we’re not able to meet your expectations. I do hope you find your next visit to be more to your liking”.
“That’s ridiculous, I only want a holiday to the moon and the keys to Atlantis! I want to speak to your manager”.
“I’m the highest level of escalation Karen, that’s our final answer”.
“You’re not the owner of the company, I want to speak to them”.
“No Karen, I’m the highest point of escalation”.
Karen then hangs up and emails the CEO about me and my terrible attitude. The CEO forwards the email to me.
As per my previous email…”
Pie in The Sky Idea
I am new to retail at Target and got the job because I ran out of cares to give. One day, a lady came into the store and went to the Pizza Hut express. They were out of pan pizzas and closing within a minute of her arrival.
She wasn't convinced and came up to me at self-checkout and asked for a manager. I just shouted "manager" without stopping what I was doing and someone came. She explained that she wasn't convinced that Pizza Hut was out of pan pizzas.
The manager explained that they were. That's when she turned the reddest shade of red and said she didn't believe her. I casually mention that they're closed now anyway, so it doesn't matter. She expresses how much she craves a pan pizza, so a co-worker and I explain that there are at least three pizza places nearby, one of which was a full Pizza Hut, that was still open and served pan pizzas.
She REALLY wanted a Target Pizza Hut Express Pan Pizza, though. But she stormed off, saying she needed to pick up a prescription. None of us had the heart to tell her that the pharmacy closed two hours ago.
I’d Do Anything For Cheeseassorted drinks on white commercial refrigeratorPhoto by Kenny Eliason on Unsplash
My worst Karen was a middle-aged woman who I caught trying to switch price labels around on some blocks of cheese. She found a $5 label for a multipack of chicken (it says chicken on the label) and tried to pull the plastic strip off the shelf to put the new label in place.
When I caught her and asked if she needed any help (pro tip, never outright ask a Karen what they’re doing) she pointed at the blocks of cheese which were $6, and said, “these were $5 the other week”. I politely explained that they were not, it was a different brand of cheese.
She said, “Well why are they in the sale bin then?” They were not.
I again explained that the cheese was not $5 and she walked away muttering to herself. I thought that was that and carried on with my tasks. I was very wrong. I soon heard shouting coming from the till and my staff member rang the management bell.
I headed over, knowing it was her. It was. She was facing him and yelling that “the manager said I could have them for $5!” He was trying to explain that he needed manager authorization for that, so I approached and asked what the problem was. She immediately said, “you’re not the manager!”
I said I was and I had said no such thing about letting her have the cheese for $5. She then said “Listen! I’m a close personal friend of the managers and I…” and I immediately cut in with, “Yeah I’m going to stop you right there. Again, I’m the manager and I’ve never seen you before in my life”. She left the store screeching that she was going to head office about my “incompetence” followed by our security guard.
The next morning there was a round-robin email from other branches in the area about a middle-aged woman trying to sneak a discount on blocks of cheese. She’d gone to every store in the area just to try to get $1 off some cheese!
The Cat Who Ate The Cream
I was working at McDonald's. This old lady would come every day and ask for a small coffee with ten creamers on the side. Ten. Then she would come back after a few minutes and complain that the coffee was cold and demand another one. With 10 more creamers.
We would oblige because she was a regular customer and looked lonely. One day, she came back three times complaining about her coffee. I told her to maybe not put 10 creamers in it if she liked it hot. She started screaming at me and insulting me, saying I was a stupid brat, that I can't make a coffee, that I was rude, the whole shebang.
She then asked for the manager. I don't really know what he told her but from that moment on she was very nice and polite and would only ask for five creamers. Crazy lady.
Look Who It Is
When I managed a movie theater, we had a couple who always came in, I’ll call them Karen and Boss. Boss was called that because he would always say “How you doing today, boss?” and things like that. It got to the point where we would see them purchase their tickets at the box office and we would begin to get their concession order ready right then and there.
They would walk to us and their food items would be ready just the way they liked them. I’d say that’s good service for a regular customer. But even so, Karen always found a reason to complain. Her methods were truly bizarre. Instead of coming to talk to a manager, she would email corporate.
We’d get the forwarded complaint and always have to give them free tickets and concession items. Now, we had another regular customer named Bob. Bob would cook for us, and I mean cook. He’d make full-course, fresh Italian meals. We all loved Bob and he was great to us.
He actually became a really good friend to the general manager and would have him over to his home for dinner too. One day, Karen and Boss walk in and Bob was standing with the general manager talking. The General Manager rolled his eyes and Bob asked him what happened.
The General Manager told him he’s just tired of Karen complaining all the time when we provide them with great customer service. Bob looks to see who it is and tells us it’s his freaking cousin. The General Manager printed the latest email from her to show Bob and Bob ran over and asked her: “What the heck is this?”
Karen never complained to corporate again.
A Walk Down Memory Lane
Storytime! Years and years ago when I was a poor college kid, I worked at a call center. We worked for an insurance company that had royally screwed up thousands of people's insurance, but our job was to take inbound calls for people and basically say that we apologize for the inconvenience but said the company was working to fix the issue, and then do whatever we could for them.
As you might guess, it was not a fun job, especially since the majority of customers were senior citizens calling in because they were having issues getting medication due to the insurance screw-up. Okay, so now onto Mr. Karen.
Mr. Karen calls, automatically screaming about how his medication hasn't been approved and that he cannot afford the cost out of pocket. At first, I don't feel right about thinking about him as Mr. Karen because he had a right to be mad.
But anyhow, I go through my lines of apologizing and trying to rectify the situation for him. None of my offers appeal to him. He was IRATE. After about 15 minutes of back and forth with him, he demands my name and ID number. He is going to have me fired.
I have personally ruined his life, etc. I give him my name. He demands to know my last name as well. I give him my last name, which happens to be a very unique last name. This is where it all changes. He stops. Silence. This old man then stutters, "Are you any relation to *insert very old, famous, yet overshadowed* baseball player? I tell him that yes, I am, he was my great, great, great uncle.
He played in the '20s. This grouchy old man suddenly becomes the sweetest man in the world; completely awestruck to be talking to me. Apparently, he had seen him play when he was a kid (the man was in the late '80s, early '90s in age) and somehow talking to me, a very late relative, put him over the moon.
He went from raging Karen to kid in a candy store in two seconds flat, asking me everything I knew about my great uncle (who, sadly, passed 10 years before I was born). It totally made his day, and mine too.
Of course, after that, he was no longer Mr. Karen, but I thought it would be a nice little story to tell within all the raging lunatic Karen stories...so, there you go...have a nice day.
We Don’t Do That Here, Lady
One of my managers had to explain to a Karen, during a lunch rush, why she couldn't take the onion out of the French onion soup.
The Best Offense Is A Good Defenseperson holding black smartphone in carPhoto by Jonathan Cooper on Unsplash
I had a raging Karen in the first lane of the drive-thru yelling at me. I just listened and listened, and when she was done I let her sit there a second. Then I said, “Ma'am, you can choke.” Not expecting that answer, she just drove off in shock. It could have gone totally different, but I'm glad it didn't.
I work as a mover. One time, we were doing a huge move. As in, two full 26' box trucks of stuff, which was mostly all artwork. I grabbed a painting and the guy says, “Oh that's one of the cheap ones”. Well, the price tag on the back said $50,000. The move was from a huge mansion to an apartment in the city that spanned the whole floor of a building; the elevator opened right to the place.
We get to the unload and it's already dark out. It was a real struggle to pack this stuff. It was all heavy and expensive and the customers were hovering. They tried to get us to not take lunch because they were antsy and wanted to buy us pizza. No way, we needed food and we needed to be away from these people.
So first the woman—a total Karen—says the floor just got redone and we can't put any cardboard boxes on it because the fibers will get stuck in the wood. Then, as we bring in furniture, she is like a little this way, a little more, ok now back. As a mover, we don't normally place the furniture exactly. One guy almost quit during this process—but I had a plan. I said stay on the truck, I'm going to break this lady. First, I piled the cardboard boxes on the window sills. We blocked every single window in the place to the ceiling with boxes.
Then, we filled up the kitchen countertops and piled them to the ceiling also so she would have to undo it all to put the kitchen stuff away. Then, we covered the kitchen floor, then all the bathrooms. Anywhere without wood floors. All the while, every single thing I brought in, where do you want this? Here or here? Little over? Or here? All my crew had already taken breaks, but I kept going and going and going.
Finally, after like 14 hours of this job, I walk in with a dresser and say, where do you want this and she looks around...the place is full, there's stuff everywhere. She stutters for a second and says…screw it, just put it anywhere, I don't care anymore. And that's when I took my break.
I was working at a public pool in my town, and the rules are that you can't bring outside food or drinks into the pool. This rule didn't please Karen, who was very eager to let me know that she had just spent 12 DOLLARS on this coffee from STARBUCKS.
She argues with me by saying that the public pool in the next town over allows it. I keep saying the same rehearsed response, that it’s our policy that outside food and drinks can't come in the pool. I still can’t believe what she did. She dumped the coffee onto our computer, so I called the authorities. They arrested her, and the town prosecuted her to the full extent of the law.
I love the Karens who seem to think extra food is free. You’re not going to go anywhere and get extra meat or queso guacamole for free. I had a couple come in and they got a salad. They asked for extra meat, then queso, then even more queso.
I told them they would be charged for each scoop. She flipped out. She started cussing at me about how it’s wrong and she shouldn’t have to pay for more than one, why must we be so expensive because the other location does not do this? But I had the perfect reply.
I gave her a big smile and let her know I am the general manager of that store, so I knew she did not get that treatment there. Sorry, extra food is not free. She then started screaming for a corporate number and the store owner.
I told her I couldn’t give out people’s private numbers and told her to leave. She is now banned from both stores. She did put in a complaint…but guess who sees them and makes return calls? Me. She hung up on me when I called.
Going In Circles
I was talking to a customer over the phone. After going back and forth on an issue we couldn't help with, the customer said something to the effect of, "Well that's not good enough”. Being fed up at this point, I simply said, "Well, you not liking the answer doesn't mean the answer changes”.
She snapped, "That's really unprofessional”, And I said, "You thinking it's unprofessional also doesn't change the answer”. And then she said, "Let me talk with your manager”. That's when I executed my mic drop.
To which I got to say, "I am the manager, we're going in circles. If you'd like you can email me you can, in which case I'll review your complaint to determine if it needs to be escalated”. She was not happy when she hung up.
In the United States, it's no secret that sex education for minors is inconsistent at best.
But some people learned very unexpected stories about how babies were made, and those stories had a way of making a lasting impression.
Curious about other's stories, Redditor ILoveYourCat asked:
"How did you think babies were made when you were little?"
One Time's the Charm
"I knew babies came from sex as a fairly young child. My parents never sugar-coated that. But for some reason, as a kid, I thought you only had to have sex once to have multiple pregnancies. I seriously didn't fix that misunderstanding until early middle school."
"At some point, when I finally accepted that you had to have sex to have a baby, I thought the only time people have sex was to make a baby, and it only took one time to get the job done."
"Then when I figured out teenagers were having sex, I thought you had to be married and have sex to make a baby, but then when my unmarried cousin got pregnant, I was just confused."
"But I was sure my parents only had sex four times, and then when my mom got pregnant with number five, I thought, 'Wow, they did it again.'"
"A stork delivered them, of course. What the f**k, lol (laughing out loud)."
"Storks... I thought people trained them to steal babies from a factory and you would leave special treats on your doorstep as payment and encouragement for the stork to steal one for you."
"I was scared to death of birds for the longest time and would have a tantrum at the zoo when I saw a flamingo."
Young Conspiracy Theorist
"The government. I used to think that we lived in a totalitarian society and that the government was in complete control of everything."
"I thought the President sent people their babies when asked by mail."
Scheduled Baby Delivery
"The women in my family explained to me at the age of six that a doctor calls you sometime after reaching adulthood at the age of 18 to schedule a baby delivery date."
"The husband either pays to schedule the appointment or the government does after verifying that you have been married and financially stable for quite some time."
"When two people kissed."
"I thought the same thing, but I understood that when my mom gave me a kiss, there was no risk. Being someone raised in a very Christian background, I assumed that when you got married, God made kissing a reproductive act."
"Since I made this assumption, I remember questioning why teenage pregnancy could possibly be an issue."
The Ultimate Christmas Gift
"I thought Santa was bringing them."
"He was. I mean, Christmas comes but once a year..."
"I MAY NEVER ENJOY CHRISTMAS AGAIN."
A New Meaning to 'Forest Friends'
"When I used to ask my dad where I came from, he'd say he found me under a rock in the forest. Of course, I would go look for babies under rocks, too, but all I ever saw was dirt and those rolly-polly pill bug thingies."
"It was so gross thinking babies were just found THERE that I was actually relieved to find out how they were actually made!"
Pregnant By Proximity
"I thought women got pregnant by just being around a man, and I was always confused about what would happen if a woman still lived with her parents or dad after she’s an adult."
Coming of Age Story
"I thought it was a 'just happens once you reach a certain age' sorta thing. As a woman, I was terrified because pregnancy sounds like the most awful thing, lol (laughing out loud)."
"(I know the end result is worth it but even as a 31-year-old, I'm like, nope.)"
"I thought they grew like a seed inside the mother's belly."
"Technically, that’s true."
"Well, not like that."
The Power of Marriage
"My mum told me you couldn't have a baby if you weren't married. Note that she said 'couldn't', not 'shouldn't'."
"When my unmarried cousin was sleeping a lot my mum told my aunt 'she's having a baby'. I thought 'she can't be having a baby, she isn't married.'"
"A couple of weeks later she had an engagement party, quickly followed by a registry office wedding. She had a baby a few months later."
"I thought they grew on trees. True story."
"Baby trees, lol (laughing out loud)."
"I was surprised when I learned how it really happened, lol. I was like, 'You mean there are no trees?' And Mom just shook her head."
They Were Just There
"I don't recall a time where I gave the matter any thought without knowing the reality of it."
"Like, literally, until the day I was first introduced to the concept of birth, I don't think I cared where babies came from."
"Right, the little guys just EXISTED."
Educated Is Best
"I asked my mom and she told me the truth."
"Educate your kids, folks. They can handle it."
"I didn’t... They just showed up, honestly."
"That’s what I thought. I was terrified as a little kid that I’d wind up being a teenage mother because I thought it just happened spontaneously."
"Exactly what I thought would happen. Like one day you were just, boom, six months pregnant."
While these responses might be funny, it's an important reminder of an area in the educational system that's often lacking.
But in the meantime, while the system's curriculum is getting sorted out, at least we can take comfort in the fact that we weren't alone in believing these tall tales.
One of life's many challenges to being successful and happy is to work hard and stay focused on our respective goals.
There are many obstacles that can discourage us, but persistence and a drive to overcome can be rewarding.
Unfortunately, there are some things that are simply beyond our control, and it has nothing to do with fate.
It's the qualities we're either born with or without that can impede us or prevent us from ever achieving what can only be seen as a pipe dream.
Curious to hear examples of one of life's cruelties, Redditor G00dR1ddance asked:
"How did your genetics f'k you over?"
These Redditors were unhappy with appearances.
"Lazy eye, and a total lack of depth perception."
"Same. Do you struggle with driving? I just moved to a big city and I can’t drive here bc navigating all the traffic is too hard with no depth perception. It’s so scary!"
The Worst Parts
"Moms Family: Perfect teeth, male baldness. Dad's family: Terrible teeth, perfect hairline."
"Me: Sh**ty teeth, bald before 25. My 2 brothers: Perfect Teeth, Perfect Hairline."
"Feels FN bad."
"They should all chip in for a trip for you to Turkey for a cheap hair transplant and dental work."
Made For Farming
"All 4 grandparents were farmers. I look like I was bred to farm and f**k to make more little farm workers. Broad shoulders, big boobs, no waist, no @ss worth mentioning, and thick legs. I just look like I was bred to work forever until I die. 120 years ago."
Stop With The Flattery
"I too am sturdily built. I am not tall but I am muscular and broad with the big boobs and the broad hips and sturdy legs. I could carry very heavy sacks of feed from when I was very small. My family nickname was 'the forklift truck', so that's.. nice."
Room For More
"My mother’s OB said she had a pelvis ‘you could drive a bus through’. I was a natural breach birth and share those genetics. You could host the last supper on my a** and have room for plus ones."
These Redditors are living on borrowed time.
"Bad heart. I'm the first male in at least 4 generations to make it to 40. And that's only because I was finally properly diagnosed and treated. I wouldn't have made it to 35 if I didn't find the right cardiologist."
"Bum ticker - dad’s aorta exploded when I was 11 and my brother died from the second heart at 41. Just hoping to see my 60s."
Being Kept At Bay
"I have a blood condition where I retain iron. It's slowly killing me. Destroyed my liver, pancreas, and led to a massive heart attack."
"Fortunately, I live in the 21st century where modern medicine can keep me going with...bleeding."
"Sad Aspect" Of A Family
"My oldest uncle married a woman who had Huntington's, but they were very young and she wasn't symptomatic yet. In the 70s so no genetic testing or much public awareness. They had 5 daughters. My aunt and their eldest have long since passed away, and the remaining 4 are in various stages of the disease. It's always been a sad aspect of our family. A truly cruel disease."
"I’m BRCA2 positive, giving me roughly 74% chances of developing an incurable genetic breast cancer in my life. It also gives me about 22% of having an ovarian cancer."
"On the other side, double mastectomy lowers my chances to about 3%, but it should ideally be done before I reach 30. I will also need a hysterectomy in my 40s."
"I had 50/50 chance of getting the BRCA2 gene mutation so well, genetics did f'k me over!"
Redditors share more of their crosses to bear in life after being blessed with these traits.
"I'm more attractive to mosquitoes than most people. If I'm out when mosquitoes are around, I end up covered in bites (which I'm also allergic to, so I end up with quarter sized welts that itch for daaaays after the fact)."
It's sobering to realize the ailments your parents struggled with are starting to become our own to bear.
High blood pressure, arthritis, and predisposition to atherosclerosis are some of the undesirable parts of my family's genetic makeup that I never really thought about until I noticed how fatigued and in pain I've become with age.
Although I have so much gratitude for surviving every year I get to celebrate my birthday, getting old still sucks.