A Canadian Restaurant Owner Had To 'Save' Her Busy Server From This Karen

As restaurants just start to come back to life after the pandemic, some customers are incredibly grateful while others have proven they haven't been around people in a while. In August, a video with the caption, "My first wild Karen," was uploaded to TikTok by user @kkillen, showing an angry woman screaming at staff inside a Canadian restaurant. The "Karen" alleged that a waitress had screamed at her and her companion, which prompted a manager to intervene in confronting her and, according to the video, calling the cops.

A few days later, @kkillen posted a follow-up video explaining the story in greater detail. Apparently, the TIkTok poster's large party, that included 14 people, showed up at the restaurant after a day of hiking. The original poster claims that this part of Ontario has no fast food outlets and their only choice was this independent eatery. Since the party was so large, the staff decided to loosen their pandemic rules and let them eat inside rather than the outdoor patio, which was full. However, there was only one waitress working, rushing about to multiple floors to attend to customers in different seating areas, and was visibly flustered.

That's when the irate customer first arrived and asked to be seated. The waitress informed her that she was momentarily busy, but would serve her if she waited. Five minutes later, the customer walked through the restaurant and seated herself inside. The waitress explained that the restaurant was at capacity inside and she would have to sit outside. Karen proceeded to scream and make a scene — and when asked to leave, she went home and was said to have called the restaurant and even the local radio station repeatedly. The large party that was seated inside witnessing it all felt so bad they left the waitress a $100 tip for the ordeal.

One day after the second video posted, @kkillen updated her followers again, noting, "UPDATE!! Karen is threatening legal action!" Though, no further details have surfaced and it's unlikely that legal action could really follow.

This type of behavior may be behind current staffing issues

The original TikTok video has since gone viral with 244,000 reactions, and the most common sentiment expressed in the comments section is that customer behavior like that in the recording is a large part of why workers aren't flocking back to the restaurant industry after being laid off due to the pandemic.

"It's not that ppl don't want to work," one person wrote. "It's that they are done with working jobs where they get treated like this." Another chimed in, saying, "After lockdown people are far more rude than before. [This comes] from a retail employee." 

A similar point was reported by NPR on August 6. Despite the increases in pay, more vacation, and other incentives from employers, many customer-facing workers have yet to jump back into the grind. NPR goes through several reasons, such as how the recent spike in COVID-19 cases may be keeping cautious people from wanting to return to the front line. However, they also interviewed Liz Valenti, co-owner of Dayton's Wheat Penny Oven and Bar, who said one big reason is "the prospect of having to deal with hostile customers who don't want to wear a mask [that] will likely not make recruiting any easier." 

In effect, rude or threatening customers upset with what they perceive as poor service have driven away potential workers. And the staff that remains likely operates under greater pressure and probably is incapable of performing at a level that would meet the high expectations of some customers. And so, the cycle keeps going — as the videos keep coming.