Call me Karen.

If you've been unplugged from all of American society for the past six or ten months, I'll inform you that there's been a flood of videos chronicling rants from entitled white women, and some entitled white men. The general gist of these rants is that people, especially middle-aged or older white people, seem to be furious about life's little annoyances.

For reasons that are unclear to me, the women and men so infuriated in these videos are called "Karen", so let me start by saying that's not appropriate. My mother-in-law's name is Karen, and she's always kind and courteous. I've known other women named Karen, who were also not nincompoops. There's no need to insult the many people named Karen who aren't making fools of themselves, so instead of calling the people in these videos Karens, I call them Entitled Idiots.

And once in a while, I am one.

As I've grown in years, I've also grown in impatience for ineptitude. I believe that systems — systems of anything — should be set up to operate smoothly, and when systems are set up to be difficult instead, well, I can be difficult too. I believe people should try to do their jobs in a competent manner, and if they're not trying, or if they're awful at it and act like it isn't a problem, I might get cranky. I don't often holler like an Entitled Idiot, but … it happens.

First example: A year or so ago, needing just a few groceries, I went to the grocery store nearest my house, where I rarely shop. I'd forgotten why I rarely shop there; it's because they have prices marked in big bright numbers, but those prices are for members only; if you're not a member, the price is substantially higher and in much smaller print. Well, as confessed already, I'm a cranky old fart, so I don't want to be a "member" of a grocery store, because I don't want their spam in my in-box or mailbox. At the cash register then, lacking a loyalty card, my $10 worth of groceries came to $16 — and I became an Entitled Idiot. If anyone had filmed me that afternoon, I'm sure I would've gone viral.

Second and mercifully last example: My wife, being disabled and home all the time, watched lots of TV, but I only watched when I was watching with her. After her death, I knew I'd never watch TV so I canceled our cable and Netflix. Netflix made canceling a cinch, with just a few clicks at their website. Charter Communications (or Spectrum, as they now disguise themselves) made canceling into an afternoon's work — I had to talk to three different people, each of whom tried to talk me out of canceling, via lengthy scripted dialogue and lower and lower-price offers. I was very polite with the first employee, less polite with the second, and reached "full Karen" with the third employee, who still wouldn't vary from reading the company's script for cancellation-prevention.

I have a long fuse, but at the end of it there's a firecracker. Call me Karen if you like, but unlike most people in those viral videos, my rants never feature racist jargon, and usually include no profanities or personal insults.

I'm aware that it's almost entirely futile to complain to an employee who's just doing his/her job, so before sounding off I try to find the highest-ranking person I can reach. But I do think there's some value in complaining, if it's done right.

More people should run out of patience sometimes — especially we people who are generally sane. It's not wise to let life's little irritations make you irritable, but it's equally unwise, I think, to be silent about the bigger irritations, or an accumulation of little irritations from the same source.

If you're encountering problems because of stupid rules, stupid policies, or stupid employees, speak up. It's better for your own mental health, and it's better for the system you're dealing with, and for society at large, to say something. And it's most fun to say something loud.

Try not to be unreasonable about it. Try not to do it unless it's truly warranted. Try not to do it too often. When something needs to be said, though, don't be the person who doesn't say anything.



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