People throwing temper tantrums at popular food service locations are nothing new. Whether it's physically standing in line at the drive-thru to save a spot for somebody, or coughing/spitting on restaurant staff because they can't get a table during a pandemic where government-mandated orders prevent folks from dining indoors, there are plenty of "Karen" interactions that have been recorded and posted online for the entire world to see and judge from the comfort of their own mobile devices/computers.
And different companies have a variety of different ways/protocols that they train employees to deal with ill-mannered customers, but generally speaking, employees are always urged to "remain calm and polite" but firm in upholding company policy. The trouble is, however, that sometimes customers are looking for a squabble and have no qualms with disrupting a business in order to lash out and let a worker know just how they feel.
Just recently there was a man who held a drive-thru "hostage" by refusing to leave until he was issued a refund. Many customer service de-escalation techniques focus on offering empathetic responses to patrons in order to get their minds off of the problem and focused on a solution instead.
It's unknown whether or not the Subway employee in this viral TikTok tried that, but they did seem to find an effective way of getting a customer who "disrespect[ed]" them out of their store: by ignoring them.
TikToker @charlie_kincade uploaded the following clip of a woman in a Subway store arguing with an employee, demanding that they finish making their sandwich.
The employee refuses to do so, making it very clear that they didn't appreciate the manner in which the customer was addressing them. There have been various reports of a marked increase in rude consumers in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Local news outlet WKYC writes that this has caused many working in the hospitality and food service industries to simply walk out on their jobs: "Workers have been leaving jobs in restaurants, bars and hotels at the highest rate in decades. Each month so far this year, around 5% of the workforce in this industry has called it quits. In May alone, that added up to 706,000 people."
In the clip that @charlie_kincaid uploaded, the customers and employees simply ignore the woman as she yells and makes demands until she simply leaves the location.
The back and forth went as follows:
"Finish my sandwich!" the customer in the pink and white striped shirt screams.
"No I don't finish because you need to respect me."
The customer retorts: ""Well, you need to respect your customers. And I will tell 'em you don't respect your customers. Would you finish my sandwich?"
At this point in the clip an employee asks @charlie_kincaid what she would like to order, the TikToker responds: "Cold cut trio." Another customer receives service as the "Karen" looks around while being ignored.
"Hi, may I help you?" the other customer is asked, who proceeds to place their order.
The customer yells again, "Finish my sandwich!" before finally walking towards the store's exit. She's about to leave, but then turns around and asks the employee to call their supervisor. "Please call her right now," she asks.
Again, everyone in the store continues to ignore her until she leaves.
Several TikTokers applauded the way both customers and employees at the Subway handled the irate woman, with many saying that a new "hack" was discovered in how to negate Karens in public. As of this writing, the clip has clocked in over 8,500 comments and more than 150,000 likes.