Like many jobs, employees are bound to encounter their fair share of Karens. Basically, customers, who think they are entitled to act and behave whatever way they like, not considering the people they’re around them, especially not employees. Book store supervisor, “Emily” has many Karen stories, but there was one Karen freak-out incident she’ll never forget.
It was the time she was seventeen, working at her local bookstore when the newest “Harry Potter” came out. She expected the day to be horrible, but when she came across this one Karen, it escalated quickly. It was a day they both would never forget.
It was the time when bookstores and “Harry Potter” books were at their highest peak, or in other words, before both started to decline in demand. In 2003, it seemed like every bookstore was preparing for June 21. For all those non-die-hard Harry Potter fans, that was the release date of J.K Rowling’s fifth/newest Harry Potter book, “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” to the public. It was definitely a busy time for book store employees, Emily would concur.
Massive posters and eye-catching banners were hung all over her store, encouraging readers to pre-order the book four weeks in advance of the release date. So even if you weren’t a Potterhead (a term to call Harry Potter fans), there was no way you didn’t know it wasn’t coming out. It was almost impossible to ignore. And clearly, the marketing was successful, because Emily’s store was knee-deep in pre-orders, and they still had a month to go before the release date. However, as the time came closer to the date, the store hung new banners that read, “Pre-orders are not possible anymore.”
In order to make June 21 go as smoothly as possible, Emily and her team came up with the idea of prepping “pre-order” bags which would include the book, customer’s name, and other information (for confirmation purposes). They stapled the information on the bag itself before locking it up in their secured drawers. It seemed like an efficient plan, especially considering the amount they had on file; nearly two storage drawers were filled with bags. And to add extra security, only the supervisors and managers had access to those drawers.
So let’s just say, the store had pretty high expectations for June 21 and the clock was ticking. The employees ensured every display section of the book was stocked and every service counter had its own set, just so things didn’t get too hectic. But I feel like either way, it was going to be hectic, no matter what.
And lucky for Emily, she was the scheduled supervisor on duty that day to open the store. So fast-forward to the morning of, she first started off giving her team a whole spiel on what to expect and what absolute chaos was to come that day. And boy, was she right.
The bookstore didn’t open until eight, however, when Emily first arrived at seven-thirty, she already saw a line of customers forming outside. The anticipation was foreseen and understandable, however, what wasn’t understandable was how some of the customers were acting. You see, the manager on duty, “Mitchell” was standing by the front (locked) doors to let employees in, but in doing so, there were a few customers who thought it was a good idea to try to enter the store as well. Now with Mitchell, he didn’t tolerate any nonsense from his employees or customers.
So when he stopped the customers who were trying to push themselves inside, he quickly put his foot down. In his stern voice, he clearly explained to those customers why their plan wasn’t going to work out. If they went inside and collected a book, then who in the world would be ringing them up? The employees had just arrived there and they had yet counted their registers, so it only made sense that they wait the whole thirty minutes until the store was officially open for their service. That kept them quiet for a whole, well until eight, that is.
By the time, Mitchell unlocked the front doors, the line outside grew even bigger. It was like watching a herd of farm animals being released in the open field, but unfortunately for Emily, that open field was her book store.
As expected, chaos was everywhere. Customers were yelling at employees, they were arguing amongst themselves about cutting in line or being in the way. It got out of control at first, but Emily quickly thought of another idea that would put a little more structure to the crowd. She asked Mitchell to look for numbered tickets to which she could disburse to customers who were there to pick up their pre-order items. This allowed her employees to assist all customers in a timely and orderly fashion.
After working three consecutive hours with zero downtime, the store was officially sold out of the “Harry Potter” books. The only books left were the pre-order ones, that had yet to be picked up. So now, all Emily and her employees had to do was notify each customer who came up, questioning the empty shelves that they were out of stock. There were many disappointed faces and a few minor temper tantrums, however nothing too major. Well, until a woman came up to Emily’s station, let’s call her “Karen” or Karen number 452 (yes, Emily counted).
She wasn’t satisfied with Emily’s response of being sold out of “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” books and there being none in the back. Living up to her “name,” she then pulled the ultimate Karen move, she requested to speak with the manager. If she thought by complaining to the manager, she would end up with the book in her hand, then she thought wrong.
As we perfectly saw earlier, Mitchell has a zero-tolerance policy towards out of line customers, especially ones who think they’re entitled to whatever just because they throw a hissy fit. And today was not the day. Like Emily, Mitchell also had to deal with nonstop Karens for the last three hours, so when he came over to them, he went straight to the point. They were totally out of the books, and no, they didn’t have any in the back. Plain and simple.
Seeing her Karen powers weren’t going to work in her favor this time, she brushed them off and continued shopping around. Maybe she was hoping to find a misplaced Harry Potter book, tucked away in another spot. But it became transparent she wasn’t finding what she was looking for and getting frustrated. Every time she passed Emily, she gave her death glares and mumbled something under her breath. But again, she was Karen number 452, so Emily let it go. She didn’t have the energy to deal with it, since she still had other customers to take care of.
Not too long, a mother and son came up to her register, requesting their pre-ordered book. After confirming the mother’s information, Emily gladly unlocked the drawers that held all the pre-order books and grabbed the assigned book. As soon as Karen saw the book, she went full Karen mode.
Karen screamed, “Why do you give her a book?! You told me you were out of books.”
Emily replied, “This is a pre-order, we are out of the ones that weren’t pre-ordered.”
She screamed, “Liar that you are! I demand you give me that book now! I was here first!’
Emily said, “The manager told you the same thing. This book is pre-ordered by this woman. You can’t have this book unless she decides to part with it. “
And no surprise, the other customer did not want to. So now Karen was throwing another hissy fit, but Emily managed to ignore her and continue with the transaction. As soon as she was about to hand over the book to the son, she noticed Karen was no longer in front of the counter. She was now behind the counter, going full speed towards her.
What was Karen planning on doing? It definitely wasn’t going to be a hug.
In a matter of seconds, Karen was invading Emily’s personal space. She even went as far as grabbing Emily’s shoulder, trying to literally snatch the book from her hands, but before she could do that, the son quickly got a hold of the book first. Seeing it was now out of her reach, she immediately tried to get into the drawer she first saw Emily take the book out of. Luckily for Emily, the drawer was locked. Now, what was she planning on doing?
As the true Karen she was, she became hostile again towards Emily, screaming at the top of her lungs and cornering her to where Emily couldn’t move. Thankfully, the mother and son were still there, they quickly shouted for help which distracted Karen momentarily. That gave Emily the chance to push the emergency button to not only call the police but also activate more cameras to record the ordeal.
Within seconds, Mitchell was upfront, wresting Karen away from Emily. Then from there. the cops arrived. There was no doubt Karen was going to get arrested. There was security footage of the altercation, eyewitnesses, and of course, Karen still freaking out. Once Emily made her statements, Karen was hauled away.
She was banned for life from the book store. And for what reason? Because she didn’t get a Harry Potter book and honestly, couldn’t handle the fact she wasn’t getting her way for once. I want to say, that was the last time Emily saw her, but of course, Karen didn’t listen and came back. Another employee saw her, and this time, Karen wasn’t doing the screaming. As soon as the employee saw her, she yelled at her to get out which made Karen run out of the store. But not before she attempted to jump over a chain with a sign at a closed register and fell flat on her face. Once she got back up and ran past Emily, Emily couldn’t help but say, “Have a nice weekend.”
From then on, Emily never saw her again. Maybe next time she’ll think twice before harassing an employee over a book.