Teacher’s Corner: I Encountered a Karen in the Wild

Let’s gather around for a little story. Take a seat and have a cushion ready to bang your head against.

On Wednesday, one of my students approached me. He found a bank card on his way and wanted to hand it over (cultural info: in Germany everybody has a bank card, there are even special accounts for teens). I thanked and praised him. After determining that the card didn’t belong to any of our students, I called the bank and informed them. They were grateful for the information and said they would tell the owner.

Some time later I got a message from our secretary to please get in touch with this number, which I did. I’m friendly, right? And if that had been you, you would have been delighted that your card had been found, bought some chocolates for the kids and told a story about a good kid. But alas, I called the number and I met Karen.

Karen is the card owner’s mum. The young man himself works until 5 so he can’t do this himself. She started the conversation with insinuations. How did that card get found? How did it get to us, what were we doing with it anyway?

I told her that I don’t know and we started to talk about how she could get it back. I told her where we are, when the staff room is occupied for sure (our office is not where I usually work) and what to do in case it is not.

At this point she started bickering: Couldn’t I send the card to the bank? Now, I’ll fully admit that at this point I wasn’t inclined to go out of my way to help her anymore and told her that I could not book the posting in the school system.

Well, how about taking it to the police? I disabused her of the idea that I was going to drive around town on my own time and dime. Would you believe that she started going after my student again? Why didn’t he go to the police?

This was where I went from annoyed to slightly angry and told her that the kid had done everything right, that he deserved praise for being honest and caring and repeated when she could pick up the fucking card.

Thursday passed without any sign of her.

Today I got a message from our secretary to please call that and that guy from the police. Now, while rare, it’s not unusual. Our students don’t come from the best part of town, some have violent inclinations and so do their families, so we occasionally need to make witnesses statements.

But no, the guy told me that he’d been contacted by Karen, complaining that I had refused to give her the card without written permission from her son. Yes, that’s how I looked. I told him that I had no clue what the woman was talking about, that I had never asked for written permission and that she could come and pick it up right now.

The police guy said he wasn’t sure what her issue was either, but that she wouldn’t be able to get the written permission that quickly, since her son was at work. I repeated that I had never said anything about written permission, to which he replied “but I did”.

And this is how the Karen who wanted to sicc the police on a poor teacher and bully her into delivering the lost card got more trouble than she needed.


  1. Bruce Fuentes says

    Sorry to hear that you have them in Germany too. But honestly, glad to hear that we are not the only ones cursed with them here in the USA. They probably all started here though. So sorry for that.

  2. says

    At this point she started bickering: Couldn’t I send the card to the bank?

    Here in freedom-loving USA, what we usually do is just cut the card up then notify the bank that we found it and are honest people and won’t be attempting any charges on it. Then, we forget it ever happened.

  3. Ice Swimmer says

    I can’t understand the Karen’s way of thinking. I think the local minima of trouble and cost would be to either come and get the card and be nice about it or shut the card down and get a new one (if one has any suspicions about foul play).

  4. says

    @3: In my experience, people call to have their cards shut down as soon as they know they’ve lost them. So there’s really no point in going out of one’s way to return them, since the trouble of cancelling one card, going over the most recent charges to make sure they’re legit, and waiting for the new card, have already been done and can’t be undone without even more trouble.

    The only time I ever returned a debit card to its owner, was when I found it still in the ATM when the previous user had just left and was still in sight and easily identifiable as the one who had just used the ATM. And of course that was before she’d realized she’d left her card behind. Any further delay and there would have been no point in doing anything more than calling the bank, giving them the number, and then cutting up the card.

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