‘Karen is a pejorative term for someone as entitled or demanding beyond the scope of what is appropriate or necessary.’ –
I never thought I’d meet a Karen in the wild, but here we go. Bear in mind, when you read this story, she only rented her apartment – she did NOT own the whole building.
We were moving into Holland Park, one of the most prestigious areas in London, located in Kensington. I couldn’t believe my luck when my best mate invited me to live in her flat, for only £400 a month – complete with a double bedroom and en-suite bathroom. This is absolutely unheard of for the area.
We were forewarned about this Karen who lived downstairs – she was the only downside to living in this incredible flat. We were told she goes out of her way to make your life hell and the advice we were given was to not give her our phone number (she would apparently text the boys living there before non-stop complaining for no reason at all) and to ignore her completely whenever your paths crossed. Easy, I thought, nothing that I can’t handle. I was terribly wrong.
I probably spent about 500 quid cleaning, buying, and moving everything into that flat. Everything seemed to be going brilliantly on moving day until my Mum and I noticed a lady giving a nice, slightly confused deliveryman an earful. ‘YOU CAN’T PARK HERE, EVEN FOR A MINUTE’ (he was not blocking anyone’s way) ‘WHO ARE YOU DELIVERING TOO? TELL ME IMMMEDIATELYYYY.’ Mum gave me the side-eye and whispered about how this lady looked like trouble. This was unfortunately the women who would be living below us.
Next, she accosted us as we were moving our things into the flat, shouting that ‘MY KID HAS AN EXAM ON THESE DATES AND THESE TIMES SO YOU CAN’T BE IN THE FLAT.’ – um, Sara (my friend) mum owns the flat so we can do whatever we wanted. These boxes were also really heavy so I wasn’t about to stop and have a conversation with her. She continued to bark instructions all the way to my door, which was on the third bloody floor.
Creeping out in a timely fashion our very sweet next-door neighbor introduced herself. She was a smiley, lovely mother of one who lived with her boyfriend and would be right across the hall. She’d said about three sentences before looking wildly at my friend and I, exclaiming ‘everyone who lives in this block is a psycho. The women downstairs will make your life HELL. Ignore her, smoke all the cigarettes, and have friends around, we can’t let her win!!!’ if that wasn’t a red flag, I don’t know what is.
Karen demanded we get the flat carpeted, so she couldn’t hear our ‘deafening’ footsteps (when I say we left our shoes at the door and were tiptoeing, I’m not joking). The carpet fitters arrived and Karen yelled at them for not confirming with HER what time they were coming and said ‘don’t you know my kids have an exam?’ This was when Sara’s mum rounded the corner and shut this bitch down. ‘You said that were wanted the carpet down, so that’s what we’re doing. You do not own this building and are not the queen-of-the-world so not everything has to go through you. Calm down.’ Karen stumbled over her words for a while before exclaiming ‘the whole building wanted you to get carpets!!! And my child has an exam.’ This was quickly shut down by, ‘No, only YOU wanted me to fit carpets, which I’m doing, and your child does not have an exam as it’s the MIDDLE OF THE SUMMER HOLIDAYS’. She scampered away quickly, clearly furious. This was the first small victory. She later came to apologize, keen to get back into the good books.
Throughout our weeklong stay, Karen was a permanent feature at our door. We were never quiet enough or considerate enough and had too many people over, even if it was just one friend. I was beginning to wonder if we could even watch telly.
One Friday night, as we were walking to the pub, she ran after us down the small driveway. ‘Sara, I’m leaving for the weekend so you don’t have to worry at all’ I take it she meant the noise. Brilliant, let’s be slightly less church-mice-esqe.
We had two of my mates from Vietnam staying, and we drank wine and played music off our laptops for some of Saturday night. Nothing crazy loud. Monday rolled around and we get a call from Sara’s mum, LIVID, saying that at least 6 of the residents had complained we had an all-night trap party on the balcony, slamming doors with a group of at least 20 people. What? We were bar hopping for most of the weekend. Apparently now we made the block look like a complete dump, throwing ample cigarettes over the balcony (even though we had an ashtray which we always used). What made me angry (apart from the blatant lies) was that NO ONE had come to knock on the door to tell us to be quiet; they’d all had a sneaky meeting where they would file a complaint to the board of the building. One guy even put in his complaint that he would move out if we were to move in. Bit dramatic. Who were these neeks we were living around, who wouldn’t even let us have two people around on the weekend?
Sara left that same day, crying and sick with anticipation that we had made a dreadful mistake moving into this apartment. We would have a daily confrontation, miserable people and our day to day lives turned into one of extreme anxiety.
I moved back in with my mum. It was a little haven compared to Holland Park, and I just felt myself immediately relax as I entered her compound. It was the best feeling to be away from the lair of the Karen’s. I know, it was a shockingly good deal for 400 quid a month in the best area of London, but I don’t know if I could face that level of confrontation every day.
Anyway, at this point, I was dating my now boyfriend. We were on our 4th date and ended up back at that flat in Holland Park. We went out of our way to be as quiet as possible and had one lone cigarette on the balcony at around 10.30pm and talked in hushed whispers to be as considerate as possible. Look at the note, which was pinned to the outside of my flat door, the next day:
I am so bloody confused and immediately start to panic. As I was flapping about, wondering if Sara will believe me that this was in fact, completely unreasonable, my boyfriend grabbed me and sat me down. ‘There are a lot of times I have been out of order in my life, and this is NOT one of them.’ We left, there and then, and I knew in my heart of hearts the next time I went into that flat would be to move my stuff back out.
We filed a complaint against Karen and this aggressive note to the board. It’s harassment, I am allowed to smoke on my balcony whenever I want too. I am allowed to whisper past 10 and I do not need to be threatened with police calls. What are the police going to do anyway?! Give me 5 years of hard labor for smoking and whispering? If that’s her trump card, I cannot wait to see what they say when they arrive. The board replied that she is a known Karen, they get complaints about her all the time and assured us they are doing their utmost to kick her out. She’s even known to the council for being a troublemaker.
In the end, we moved out and the flat is on the market to be sold. Karen-1 Us-0.