#Karen: Having Basic Standards Does Not Make You One

A little over two years ago, my wife and I went to Denny’s in Texas when we still lived there. We enjoyed the place up to the last few visits, but that particular visit was a little interesting.

For starters, there was not too much in the way of politeness. My wife spoke to the greeter and the greeter, get this…did not greet us. I mean, that was his job, right? My wife did not expect him to roll out the red carpet or perform a song and dance for her. She was just expecting a response back to her saying “Good morning.”

Pretty basic, right?

After we sat down, of course, the utensils were brought to us. The silverware was filthy, to say the least. So my wife asked for more silverware. Again, dirty silverware was returned. When I asked for more, the option of plasticware came about, and while we accepted it, our thinking was the same:

“No. We want clean silverware.”

Again…not talking about the special stuff only reserved for foreign dignitaries or the President of the United States. Just for what you bring us and every other customer to be cleaned. The very same thing that would cause you to fail a basic health inspection is what we did not want. We didn’t even need it polished with imported brass cleaning materials.

Just clean. That’s it.

After that, my wife began to notice that other areas were not clean as well. The lamp that hung over our table was covered in thick dust. And we all know the difference between dust that just happened and what has been there for some time.

She also used the restroom and noticed that had not been cleaned, either.

At that point, she began taking pictures and she posted them on social media, along with sending an e-mail to Denny’s Headquarters to let them know about what we discovered.

A few of the social media responses went something like this:

“Chill…it’s not a five-star restaurant.”

“What did you expect?”

“Calm down, Karen.”

Karen? Seriously? Wanting clean silverware makes my wife a “Karen”?

First off, too many just want any excuse to use that, even when it does not apply. So let me help you out here.

“Karen” was originally used to identify a white woman who calls the police on Blacks doing absolutely nothing wrong. Whether it is a little girl selling lemonade, someone in a park, a man entering a gated community…they feel they are *threatened* because we exist. That’s it.

My wife asking for basics does NOT make her a “Karen.” At all. Again, this is stuff that would cause the restaurant to lose points on health inspections. My wife did not call corporate on people doing nothing wrong. A clean establishment is the bare basics of what they’re supposed to do.

Fast forward to the picture above. This is a picture of my wife and I on our third anniversary inside a Ritz-Carlton hotel. You’ll notice that I am Black and my wife is Latina.

Now, first of all, I can see a few from our communities coming on here to try and clown us for this. After all, the mindset in the Black and Latino community is that we’re just supposed to struggle *all the time* and the second we no longer struggle, that means we’ve totally forgotten what it is like. That our lives are just *easy*. We’re apparently never supposed to want to treat ourselves, even on our anniversary. If that is you, just move on. You don’t have the maturity to understand any of this.

If you’re a white person and try to pull that card about us not understanding the *struggle* I grew up in Baltimore City and my wife is originally from Brooklyn, so don’t make us laugh. Seriously.

At one point, my wife said, to the effect, “How come other places can’t be like this?”

Obviously, we both clearly know the difference between the Ritz-Carlton and Denny’s. But my wife makes a great point.

When we looked at the silverware, it was clean. Obviously, they put more effort into the work, but we were impressed with the cleanliness. Some of the other perks were great also since this was room service.

We get that a lot of places don’t necessarily have the capacity or resources to provide all that a place like the Ritz-Carlton can give us. But is this where we are as a society? That clean silverware in an establishment that serves food is considered as an *extra*? That we are not supposed to complain about dirty utensils? That we have become so relaxed and complacent with the *not* Ritz-Carltons of the world that even basic stuff isn’t expected?

Why do restaurants have a dishwasher? Why do the employees ever clean the bathroom if that’s not important? Obviously, it is, or they would never do it.

Is it that it has little to do with the basics of service and more with the low standards we have set for places like Denny’s, along with the low standards we have for ourselves?

In that case, I can kind of understand the “Karen” statement. After all, if you’re fine eating off dirty silverware, the person who comes in and expects not to would be considered as a “Karen.” In that case, it’s mainly because it goes against the grain of what *many* people say. Not that it actually fits the definition.

This is also not about mistreating workers or expecting them to work like dogs for us. Absolutely not. But they’re there for a reason. If they’re not there to work, then they need to be gone. Enough of making excuses for people not to work when they are AT WORK.

If a person is supposed to wash dishes and he or she doesn’t, then that person did not do his or her job. A customer calling that out isn’t being a “Karen.” Especially when my wife wasn’t expecting the one who did not wash dishes to get into trouble. Hell, I doubt she would even care who didn’t wash the silverware if clean silverware was brought back. What is that employee’s purpose if he or she was to wash dishes and it did not happen? If my boss tells me to do something and I don’t do it, at best, he or she tells me again to do it. At worst, I get written up for insubordination or I get fired.

I say all that to say two things.

Number one, have better standards for yourselves. There’s nothing wrong with going into an establishment in which you are consuming food that is prepared for you to expect that the utensils they provide for you to be clean. That’s not a *white-girl-calling-the-police-on-Black-man-woman-or-child-for-existing* thing. It’s their job. Much of their entire reason for existing.

And number two, stop using “Karen” every time someone complains. That is NOT what “Karen” is about. You’re already being nosy, so in all that, please pay attention to what specifically is being said or what the particular complaint is about. Don’t just assume that it is nonsense because it doesn’t matter to you. But then again, it should.

After all, if the Ritz-Carlton is believed as the *only* time we deserve to have clean eating utensils, that says far more about us than the establishments, and likely the reason we get the service we do from each.

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