Karen just might be the word of 2020, because all of a sudden, problematic white women are getting virally shamed left and right for public meltdowns that are getting caught on camera. Call it a reckoning of Beckys—a Beckoning, if you will. We had Amy Cooper, who was videotaped trying to call the cops on Christian Cooper, a Black man, because he politely asked her to follow the rules of Central Park. We had Svitlana Flom, who was recorded calling the police on a Black woman for minding her own business on a park bench in the Upper West Side. And over the weekend, another Karening occurred in Astoria, Queens—though this one was not motivated by race, but rather, safety and health guidelines surrounding the pandemic.
The incident took place at New York City Bagel & Coffee House in Astoria, when one of the customers noticed a woman in the shop not wearing a mask, coughing and not covering her mouth. (I get that wearing a mask is a relatively new development in America, but covering your mouth when you cough was covered in elementary school, so there really is no excuse.) In a Facebook post, the woman says she “politely pointed this out to the woman working at the store and told her that the store should enforce masks to [be] worn by patrons while inside the store”. The woman who will now be known as Coughee Karen or Bagel Becky (dealer’s choice) overheard the comments, and started going off on the woman who made them, calling her a “pussy”. For her final act, she then went over and coughed on her repeatedly. Of course, the interaction was caught on video.
— Nasty Liberal (@call_nasty) June 13, 2020
New York City is in phase one of reopening, meaning that restaurants can still only do takeout or delivery. The NYC Health department’s FAQ section reads, “All New Yorkers must wear a face covering when outside of their home if they cannot maintain at least 6 feet from others” and says “Examples include walking on a busy street, going to pharmacies and grocery stores, or going to the doctor.” The notice also specifies that “The New York State requirement to wear a face covering applies even if you had COVID-19.” (Coughee Karen claimed she had the COVID-19 antibodies, but according to the New York State requirement, that doesn’t matter.)
New York City Bagel & Coffee House put on a statement on Instagram, reiterating, “The behavior of this woman is unacceptable in our establishment. Customers and employees MUST wear a mask in all our stores.” They also state that the woman on the video is banned from all NYCBCH locations, and reiterate, “We will not serve anyone without a face mask or face covering”.
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Ironically, Bagel Becky was identified by the internet as a former employee of Weill Cornell Medicine. Weill Cornell said in a tweet, “As an institution on the COVID-19 frontlines, this behavior is shocking & abhorrent to us. Since WCM’s mission is to protect the health & wellbeing of all NYers, we condemn this flagrant disregard of public safety.”
But Koffee Karen (thought of another nickname) wasn’t the only one to flout social distancing rules. In St. Marks Place on Friday night, the streets were packed with people, not social distancing or wearing masks, acting like they were at a block party.
Don’t make me come down there… https://t.co/OeVGMW7LEO
— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) June 13, 2020
Governor Cuomo has since threatened on Twitter that bars or restaurants that violate reopening guidelines can lose their liquor license, people with open containers in the street can be fined, and police and protesters not wearing masks can be fined. He claimed that most violations are occurring in Manhattan and the Hamptons, and warned to local officials, “Enforce the law or there will be state action.”
Karens and Chads, please knock it off, before you ruin everything for the rest of us. This is why we can’t have nice things, and neither will you, if a second wave of coronavirus hits before we even recover from the first one.
Images: United Nations Covid-19 Response / Unsplash; call_nasty, NYGovCuomo / Twitter; @nycbch / Instagram