A Guy Named Karen by Terveen Gill

‘Strawberry bubble gum please.’

Satya heard a voice from across the counter, but there was no one there. It was only seven pm and he was already losing it. His mind wasn’t as sharp as it had once been, and manning the cash counter for ten straight hours left him weary and unfocused.

‘Strawberry bubble gum please.’

The voice was louder this time and it clearly belonged to a man, but where was he?

Satya reached for his glasses, but they could only increase the clarity of his vision, not make the invisible appear.

That’s when the storekeeper thought of leaning forward and looking down. His decision was rewarded. The voice wasn’t homeless.

It belonged to a man no taller than a five-year-old child. He was dressed in black and was wearing sunglasses. A bit odd thought Satya, as it was dark outside. But what people did was their own concern, and he was glad to be of service.

He lifted a plastic box from beneath the counter and rummaged through it, sticks of blue, green, yellow, purple and even pink, but no red, no strawberry.

Apologetic yet still hopeful to make a sale, Satya put on his nicest smile and offered a better choice.

‘Sorry, we’re out of strawberry, but grape bubble gum is the bestseller. I’ll give you two packs for the price of one. How’s that?’

The sunglasses came off and the short-statured man hissed his displeasure.

‘Do I look like a fool to you?’

Confused by the question, Satya offered another solution.

‘Okay. How about spearmint or banana? Maybe guava?’

The sunglasses went back on, and a finger shot up.

‘Are you misleading me? Trying to force me to buy something I don’t want?’

Satya waited for more and it came.

‘This is mental harassment! Mind you, a criminal offence! I’m calling the cops!’

The finger stayed up and the man’s free hand pulled out a cell phone. It beeped with each digit pressed. The man then spoke with authority.

‘I’d like to report an incident. I’m feeling extremely threatened and unsafe. There’s a man and he –’

Satya placed the plastic box back in its place, then sat down on a wooden stool and listened to the man in black rant on. Nearing the end of his complaint, he stated his name.

‘Richard A. Wholl.’

Satya shook his head and crossed his arms. He scoffed at the man’s lie. There was no way he could be a Richard.

He was clearly a guy named Karen.

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17 comentarios sobre “A Guy Named Karen by Terveen Gill

  1. Oh, Terveen, haven’t we all met a Mr A. Wholl at some point or another? Loved your story. There are Karens everywhere as it turns out. Mind you, the only real life person I know who is actually called Karen, is a very nice woman and not a ‘Karen’ at all. Go figure!!!

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    1. Haha! I suppose that is taking things a bit too far. Maybe just yes and no answers could keep everyone in check. But then, there will be someone digging deeper into that too. And the world goes on… Thanks so much for your thoughtful comments. 🙂

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  2. Sounds like this fellow may have been suffering from Small Man Syndrome (a real thing). I knew an actual Karen once who epitomized the whole Karen Syndrome (she was my ASL teacher in 1993–an awful experience). So, this whole Karen phenomenon has been around for quite a while. I feel for the poor cashier in this story. I remember horrible customers during my youth working in low-paying convenience store jobs. Some people can’t live without drama, I reckon. As always, your portrayal of quirky characters is peerless. Also, grape bubblegum rules! 😀

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