No shirt, no shoes, no face mask: no dice. Read it. Learn it. Live it.

I was leaving on my daily SIP biking trip. It is nice when you live immediately adjacent to a very nice hiking trail. It’s not so nice when people park illegally in front of your house in order to use it.

“I’m sorry,” I said pointing to the two large No Parking Anytime signs hanging directly overhead of the car being parked.

“Where the hell am I supposed to park then?” snorted the driver.

As if it were now my responsibility to figure out where they could park. If he had asked nicely, I probably would have told him. But he didn’t.

“All I know is you can’t park there,” I replied.

He, of course, parked there anyway.

Recently I have read a lot about “Karens.” The novel idea being that this type of person is a woman (although I have heard of, and dealt with, “Kens” too) who wields her entitlement everywhere she goes. Examples include the woman who called the police on a bird watcher when he suggested she not ignore the dogs on leash sign. Or the person who spit on the security guy at the supermarket who insisted on a face covering, per County, State and store policy.

Let me be the first to say, this is not a new phenomenon. It has been going on in the restaurant business for years. In fact, I believe that the restaurant business might have invented it.

Here is an example.

The couple had three service dogs when they came in the front door. Three, for two people. And these were big, big dogs.

“Excuse me,” said the server with a tray full of food. “I need to get through there,” pointing at the fact that the dogs were completely blocking the aisle.

The woman on her phone waved at the server, presumably for her to stop talking. The server finally just stepped over the dog. Dangerous for sure, but commerce often finds a way.

Another customer wasn’t quite so forgiving.

“Excuse me, do you mind if I get through here?”

The man with the woman on the phone called the manager over.

“That man,” he pointed at the other customer, “just harassed us.”

“Your dogs are blocking the aisle” replied the manager.

“They are service dogs.”

“They are still blocking the aisle. A fire exit no less.”

“You are discriminating against us.”

On and on it goes. And it usually ends with a threat to sue.

When one only thinks about things from their perspective it creates an interesting dynamic. I have the right to walk down the sidewalk, would logically dictate that someone else also has the right to walk down that same sidewalk. But logic has nothing to do with it.

How will you know if you are dealing with a Karen or a Ken? Here are some telltale signs:

-They always demand to speak with the manager.

-They use words like discrimination, harassment, and rudeness, when all the while they are harassing, discriminating and being rude.

-They invoke byzantine legalities to explain why they can ignore clearly posted signs.

-They threaten legal action (or online retaliation) for the tiniest thing.

-They lie. 

Often in the restaurant business, managers capitulate. Its just easier to give in, then to make a stand. And corporate restaurants are the worst. They always give in. I once worked at a large restaurant chain that sent a gift certificate to a customer who had punched a waiter. That’s right punched him.

But something has changed. Stress and fear are real motivators. Karens and Kens are now facing a real dilemma. When restaurants and other service businesses finally reopen there is going to be less of an inclination to look the other way. Businesses are starting to stand by their employees and their policies. “I am sorry, but we can’t help you” has replaced “the customer is always right.” And it is about time.

When I returned from my bike ride, I called the local police. The ticket was $150. I’ve got a feeling that officer’s boss is going to get a call. I’ve also got a feeling that boss isn’t going to care.

Leaving me with these thoughts:

-I know two women actually named Karen. And both are the loveliest of people.

-We now live in a society where some people feel they have the right to protest and interfere with hospital workers who are dealing with a pandemic. Just let that sink in for a moment.

– “The only thing necessary for evil to exist is for good people to remain silent,” once posited statesman Edmund Burke.

 “No shirt, no shoes, no dice. Learn it. Know it. Live it.” Judge Reinhold’s character from the 1982 movie Fast Times at Ridgemont High, spoken to, ironically, future Marin resident Sean Penn.