Working people can face great hurdles while doing things that makes many of our lives enjoyable. Sometimes at work customers behave unreasonably and abusively, especially to people in vulnerable situations. Our story opens in a small tavern with a seven–month pregnant waitress. We’re going to call her Maria for the rest of the story. She’s a working woman who was doing her best to make it through the day before meeting a terrible family.
It was a normal day until a woman (who we’ll be calling ‘Karen’) came in with, what many would assume was her husband, son, and daughter. Karen then asked for a table to seat four for lunch. The tavern wasn’t really a restaurant, but hey, there’s always that small sandwich and wings menu that gets put out every once in a while when somebody invariably gets hungover. As Karen was getting seated, she gave Maria a strange look, and asked if Maria was an employee of the tavern. When Maria told her that she was, Karen’s jaw dropped, “But you’re pregnant, you can’t work here if you’re pregnant.”
Maria, wanting to make sure she got a tip, laughed a little and replied with a lighthearted, “I work here, but I don’t drink here,” while trying to keep the mood relatively upbeat for a small tavern. Karen, looking shell-shocked by the entire situation at hand then asked Maria, “Have you taken any prenatal courses? Do you really think that’s responsible to have your unborn baby in here?” This is where Maria made one of the few errors during her time as a waitress; she got defensive about anyone implying that she was a bad mother. So she said, a little firmly, “Well, you’ve brought your kids in here.” Expecting a rational response, Karen simply replied, “Yes, and what kind of example do you think you’re setting for them?” Maria was somewhat flabbergasted at the entire thing and while she was still collecting her thoughts, the family grunted boorishly and waved her away. Maria was a little annoyed at the situation and figured that she could kiss her tip goodbye but naively hoped that the little miniature argument would be the end of a discussion. Maria saw the family trying to wave down the bartender after a few minutes and figured that they’re ready, so Maria went over. Karen asked to speak to a manager. The family hadn’t even gotten their drinks yet. Maria asked, somewhat confused, if there’s anything she could help them with and her husband (Mr Karen) said really sternly, “No, just a manager, didn’t you hear my wife?” Maria quickly went to find somebody to sort this mess out.
The place was too small for a manager, it’s just servers and bartenders and two owners. The one who was working was in the back on a phone call and was very against the idea of Maria bothering her. Maria realized maybe the family was still uncomfortable with a pregnant waitress. She suggested that the other server could take care of that table. Karen got up to physically look for the manager. Maria, admitting defeat, went to find the other server to get it all over with. After Karen went and complained, the owner went over and with a big smile asking if there was anything she could help them with. Karen then said very matter of fact, “Your server is pregnant.” The owner, somewhat confused, said that she was aware and asked if they’d prefer a different server. Karen became visibly enraged at this suggestion, and told him, “No, no, no, she can’t be a drink girl if she’s pregnant. That’s child abuse.” The owner, visibly confused, said, “I assure you, none of our employees drink on the clock. Especially not our pregnant ones. If you’d prefer I can have Ella serve you your beaver-” to which Karen loudly interjected, “I don’t want my kids seeing this!” The owner, like most rational people was confused and stammered out, “Maybe I’m missing something. Seeing what, exactly?” Karen’s husband, slowly and condescendingly belted out, “A. Pregnant. Woman. Around. All. These. Spirits.”
Maria, visibly upset replied, “I don’t know what you’re insinuating, but I would never drink during pregnancy.” Karen, being the personification of the Dunning-Kruger effect began her mini lecture, “Look honey, didn’t you take a health class in junior high? With a drink right under you half the time, the vapor is absorbed into your blood through the air and then that blood goes to the fetus and poisons it.” Maria and the owner looked at each other and without saying anything both knew this woman was off her rocker. Trying the diplomatic approach the owner then let Karen know that the other server Ella would be able to serve her, but that there wasn’t really anything else that they could do. Karen’s husband, being entirely unreasonable demanded that Maria be fired on the spot, to which the owner dug in her heels, telling the family there was nothing she could do.
The situation began escalating, and the family was becoming more visibly enraged at the prospect of a pregnant woman being their waitress. The husband, a bastion of terrible hot takes shouted, “I’ll call the police! You’re an accomplice to child abuse!” The owner, entirely done with the entire situation icily replied, “There is no child abuse to speak of sir, please leave.” For some reason, this absolutely set Karen off, shouting, “YOU MAY NOT THINK A FETUS IS A CHILD BUT I WAS TAUGHT TO BELIEVE LIFE BEGINS AT CONCEPTION AND I WILL STAND UP FOR ALL LIVING THINGS BIG AND SMALL BECAUSE THAT IS WHAT MY LORD AND SAVIOR WANTS ME TO DO!” Karen, tears visibly streaming at this somehow thought that this bar would be sympathetic to her, and probably expected people to stand up and applaud her. Nobody did, and the otherwise small but spirited bar went completely silent. The owner, at this point completely fed up with Karen harassing her staff laid out an ultimatum, “You’re disturbing my customers, and if you don’t leave, you’re trespassing and I’ll have to escalate this, which I really don’t want to do.” Karen, somehow under the delusion that she was in the right here kept up with her obnoxious preaching, “JESUS IS LOVE AND JESUS SAID THIS IS NOT OKAY. JUST BECAUSE YOU THINK IT’S OKAY TO ABUSE A CHILD IF IT’S SMALL ENOUGH—” This tavern was Irish pub and the owners were very devout Catholics. The owner was already done, and this just pushed her even further. She firmly responded, “HEY. I don’t need anyone to tell me what Jesus said. If there were abuse here I’d have acted to stop it but there isn’t any. I need you to please leave.” Somehow Karen’s husband thought that the appropriate response was to call the police. The staff just stopped trying to service Karen’s table. As they all waited for the cops to arrive, Karen kept trying to give her sermon, but there were a sports game on that the customers had actually come to watch and eventually everyone yelled at her until she piped down. Two cops showed up at the bar in response to a disturbance.
When the cops finally came in, they asked if there was a Mr Karen in the bar, and he enthusiastically rose from his chair. An officer asked Mr Karen, “You said you were witnessing child abuse – are the parties involved still in the bar?” They pointed Maria out, who pretended not to notice because we was worried the owners would take her outside, and she wouldn’t be able to watch any more fireworks. The second officer asked what was going on, to which Karen (lying through her stained teeth) joyfully exclaimed, “That woman was drinking! She’s pregnant, you can plainly see she’s very pregnant.” Before Maria could go over and tell the police that Karen was lying about any drinking, the officers look at each other and looked back at the Karen family, also extremely confused, and the second one chimed in saying, “ Well, that’s not illegal.” Karen, eyes almost popping out of her head shouted, “WHAT!!!!??? Look here now!!”
The first officer elaborated, “It’s definitely not recommended but it isn’t illegal. Now do you know the woman, is she a friend of yours? Family?” The family was in hysterics, with demanding that the license to keep the tavern open be revoked, and that Maria be arrested. The second officer, becoming somewhat annoyed at the entire situation replied calmly, “So, listen, she isn’t doing anything illegal. What I can do is I will talk to her, but we can’t take any action beyond that. Is there anything else you observed that you’d like to report?” So the second officer went over to Maria and took her to a quiet spot while the first officer was getting their personal information and taking the rest of the statement. Karen was crying again and bemoaning being the last bastion of good Christian morality in a small tavern without realizing how that sounded. The second officer introduced himself and congratulated Maria on the pregnancy and said she probably overheard why they were called starts to offer me some public resources for new mothers, parenting classes, and what not. Maria didn’t want to interrupt him so was waiting for the right moment to interject about how Karen was lying. That’s when patrons came over thinking Maria was in trouble and started defending her. The tavern had plenty of regulars who knew Maria well, and they would not let this absolute nonsense stand. They even complained to the officers that the owner had asked the Karen party to leave, and they’d continued to make a scene.
So the officers went to talk to the owner who said she was just about to call them, but hesitated because sirens outside of a tavern are bad for business and she was hoping the Karens would eventually leave on their own. The officers told the Karen party they needed to leave. Mr Karen, in his usual charming fashion declared, “This is a public place I have every right to be here if I want!” To which the cops replied, “No sir, this is a private business, and the business owners have asked you to leave. It sounds like more than once, but at least once since we’ve been here.” In response to this Karen exploded, “THIS IS A DISGRACE. THIS IS AN AFFRONT TO… TO… TO SCRIPTURE AND CHILD SAFETY AND—” Realizing that an enraged family near silverware in a crowded tavern could lead to some bad things the second cop responded, “I understand you’re upset. Let’s talk about it outside,” placing a hand on a visibly shaking Mr Karen and started walking him towards the exit.
As Mr Karen was walking out backwards bumping into everything along the way he shouted, “I’ll be contacting the authorities about your license to serve the public. I happen to be close personal friends with the mayor! And you two, I want badge numbers. Don’t think we’re done here because we haven’t even started.” So the officers took them out and walked the Karen’s to their car, which was illegally parked in a handicap space. To add to the schadenfreude; the Karen’s got a ticket for parking illegally. They made a complaint to the local Better Business Bureau, claiming among many things that the tavern served minors. There was an investigation, but obviously everything came up fine. It raises some questions; why did the Karen family feel so confident about something that that were wrong about? What drove them to thinking they were entitled to fire a pregnant woman to ‘protect her child’?