The phenomenon of the ‘Karen’ (google ‘Karen stories’) has long fascinated me. It’s a bit harsh on women called Karen (I happen to have a friend by the name), but to explain it briefly, Karen stories are about entitled middle-class white women with entitlement complexes. A male equivalent exists, though I forget what name they go by.
Anyway, this… cultural event (for lack of a better term) has many tales. Some relate to racism, some relate to politics, some to retail/customer services, and some overlap several areas at once.
I’ve had direct encounters with the male version of the Karen (I’m sure I wrote a post about it but I can’t find it right now). When I worked for a major (now defunct) office supply retailer that sold laptops, I had a fully grown male (one not worthy of the title ‘adult’) scream at me because the ex-display laptop he was buying wasn’t ready for collection when he wanted it. I don’t even recall being angry in return – I was more shocked that this imbecile thought throwing a temper tantrum was going to accomplish anything. My daughter would have been four at the time, and she would have known better than to try such a thing.
Flash forward to today, and something that didn’t directly affect me, but it nonetheless irritated me on behalf of a colleague. There was a problem with an order and at first the husband of the Karen was involved, speaking with my colleague and perhaps a bit annoyed but understanding of the fact that at store level we cannot control logistics, deliveries, lead times etc. After receiving some unwelcome news the husband has put the Karen on the phone, who blew up at my colleague.
This just isn’t on. My colleague had nothing to do with the initial error (I don’t know if the original problem lies with the store, the fitter, or somewhere else, but that’s not the point), and even if he did, screaming at someone is not the way to handle the issue. I take a dim view of such behaviour. It is a form of bullying and a cruel manipulative tool to try and intimidate the recipient into doing what the bully wants. We cannot magically speed up the picking, packing and transport process at the warehouse of a company with several dozen stores, from where we are, and frankly if you shriek down the phone at me in a bid to get me to do so, your ‘query’ will end up at the bottom of the pile.
What makes matters even worse is that this Karen apparently works in customer service. Would they deem it remotely reasonable if someone shouted and screamed down the phone at them, especially about something they weren’t responsible for? I don’t think they’d tolerate that for a second and rightfully so.
In more general terms, please remember that the person behind the till/sales desk/on the other end of the phone is just trying to do their job to the best of their ability. No one is paid to get screamed at because an item gets delayed, gets damaged or goes missing. We are not dealing with life and death here, and nasty customers should be given short shrift. There are more important things to worry about, and much better ways to behave.