One cannot be aware of policing culture in the U.S. without seeing the natural allegiance between cops and so-called “Karens” — entitled white women who dial 911 for ludicrous and often racist reasons, believing that law enforcement is something like a personal security force. There was “BBQ Becky,” who summoned police because a Black family was grilling outdoors, and there was “Permit Patty,” who did the same when she saw a Black girl selling water on the sidewalk; most recently, the internet was appalled by Amy Cooper, who called emergency services from Central Park when a Black birdwatcher asked her to leash her dog as required, claiming he’d threatened her.
With public approval of cops and their brutal tactics now falling, these police departments need all the support they can get. They also want to make the case that they put up with undue agony and attacks on the job — anything that would balance out their staggering record of racist violence. The best they could come up with? Fabricated stories of mistreatment at the hands of minimum-wage service workers.
First, NYPD officers (amplified by their psychotic union) lied about getting sick from “poisoned” milkshakes from the burger chain Shake Shack. Over the past weekend, it was an off-duty LAPD cop claiming that a Starbucks employee had put a tampon in his Frappuccino. This, too, now appears to have been an incredibly stupid hoax. Once again, the city’s police union was responsible for hyping this obvious bullshit.
Why would the cops adopt this bizarre, ineffective tactic of pretending to ingest food or beverages tainted by baristas and fast-food wage laborers?
I have a theory: See, if the Karens of this country — and their husbands, the Gregs — are known for anything besides calling the police, it’s making a stink at franchise businesses, railing against “unacceptable” service, demanding to see a manger, etc. They are, in that sense, the most disposed to believe some dipshit cop who sticks rolled-up paper towels in his coffee and says it’s a tampon placed there by nefarious anti-police elements. Never mind that the people behind the counter at Shake Shack and Starbucks are risking their lives to keep those jobs; clearly they would give it all up to make a cop vomit one time.
The Karen/Cop alignment found its natural synthesis in the above viral video of the “McMuffin Cop,” who also earned herself the nickname “Officer Karen.” Her real name is Stacey Talbert, and she’s a sheriff’s deputy in Georgia’s McIntosh County. The clip shows her breaking down crying over the daily fears of being part of the thin blue line — except, in this case, those emotions were triggered by a wrong McDonald’s order, which causes her to baselessly speculate that her food is (you guessed it!) being tampered with.
The victim mentality and paranoia for something so profoundly ordinary as a mix-up at McDonald’s is at once perfectly Karen and perfectly cop. A Karen can readily identify with the idea that a missing McMuffin is a targeted and personal assault.
Deep down, both Karens and cops know they’re reviled by staffs from Dunkin’ to Red Lobster and everywhere in between. Both groups assume these people are out to cheat them, or worse, and by deliberately casting the lot as villains in a phony prank war, the cops are signaling their redoubled solidarity with the bad-Yelp-review-writing Karens of this nation. You and I aren’t fooled by these badly staged episodes, yet Karen can’t help feeling a pang of recognition, of vindication. Those no-good teens at the Wendy’s really are dangerous delinquents! They’re probably spitting on my chicken sandwiches, too!
There’s no telling what currents a stronger bond between cops and Karens may produce. One thing’s for sure: We must stand opposed to their infernal synergy, and with the decent, hard-working folks who continue to make ends meet at deep fryers and espresso machines. Truly, they endure more bullshit than the rest of us combined.