Stories Of Entitled Visitors and/or Tourists…

Anyone can relate if they also work public jobs and meet entitled people that are either looking for an argument, or simply don’t care about policies. It’s not very often at the Observatory, but all of us have dealt with them. Most of the time in my case, it’s due to people getting salty over closing policies because they weren’t allowed in line for telescopes.

The use of the names Karen (or Kyle) don’t necessarily refer to a specific person, but more of the common slang name for a person who feels entitled to pester staff when they don’t get what they want, and threaten to contact the manager.

I don’t always share stories of rude people. The amount of them do not compare to the amount of positive experiences I’ve had and have given to people. Click here if you’d like to read about stories with happy endings, where human interaction saved the day.

Entitled Bicycle Rider

It says it directly on the website: people are allowed to ride their bicycle on the streets, but not on the lawn or Observatory grounds due to crowd safety issues; however, it doesn’t stop people from continuing to ride out of defiance or ignorance.

I was outside simply watching for smokers when this biker tried to ride his bike all the way onto the crowded terrace. After asking him to stop, he complained, “I’ve been riding bikes up here for 25 years, you’re the first person to say something!” “Okay, but it says on the website that you can’t keep riding it on the lawn or the walkways.” He then asked me, “what do you do here?” “I’m a telescope operator.” “Are you security?” While visibly holding a radio in my hand, I replied, “No, but I can easily call them over!” Not amused, he dared me, “well go ahead and call them!” while riding his bike up the ramp to get away from me.

I instantly called for security, and thankfully spotted a ranger by the main entrance. On cue, the biker was caught trying to ride down the ramp, and at that point I let security handle him. Thankfully nothing was escalated, but the man who goaded me got what he deserved.

Susan Death Stare

It is common for people to try and snap a picture of what they see through our telescope eyepieces. Out in public, I consider it a compliment and I’ll even allow people to attempt it, but only when it’s not holding up any lines.

On this particular busy night showing the moon, an older woman who had the   appearance an “Entitled Susan” (the older version of a Karen) – short bob haircut, matching tracksuit, tinted glasses) approached the telescope with her small digital camera – those that can fit in your hand.

At first she asked if it was possible for her camera to work with the scope, so thinking she was merely asking for advice, I said “you need a special adapter for that type of camera to work properly with this telescope.” But then her tone changed, “can’t I just put the camera over the eyepiece?” Which I of course declined and explained it would take too long. Clearly agitated, she asked, “can’t I try for just five seconds?” And I replied, “you can look through the eyepiece as long as you’d like, but I won’t let you put your camera up to it.”

I was received with the biggest death stare through her tinted glasses; she looked at me as if I had just murdered her cat. She then proceeded to peek through the eyepiece for less than a second, sternly ask me, “is that quick enough for you?” And then storm off.

I’m amazed I never got a report of her asking for the manager.

Karen The Liar

This is one of many cases of a patron disappointed about the closing procedures which we as staff must follow per park and building rules.

One such mother with her children came to my telescope claimed, “they closed the door for the big telescope in front of us, and someone told us to try a lawn telescope.” Feeling bad, I was about to {discretely} let them in line when a colleague tasked with closing my line spoke up, “no, I remember you on the roof, you came up to the back doors after 9:30 and tried getting in!” She replied angrily, “and then you told us to to go try a lawn scope!” Still calm, he explained,  “I would never say anything like that after 9:30. We try to warn you before, not after.” Unconvinced, she said, “I didn’t hear you say that, I was in line!” But then her bluff got called, “Stop lying to me! We saw you come to the back doors AFTER the dome closed!”

Instead of owning up to it, the entitled mom kept trying to play the victim and make us out to be the bad guys, telling her kids while pointing at us, “see this, kids? These MEN won’t let you see the telescope!” “It’s because this of this MAN that you look through the telescopes!” It was obvious she was trying to get her kids upset and start crying so she could pull the “see, you made them cry…” shtick. But her kids were oblivious, and when they wouldn’t start crying, she angrily stormed off.

Have I occasionally bent the rules after closing? Of course, but not for people like that.

The Karen Who Tried Coming Through The Back

While yes, there was an entitled Karen in this story, I am partially to blame for it because it was a rookie mistake on my part – it was literally one of my first shifts running the dome post training period.

Once the dome is closed, policy dictates that absolutely nobody enters the dome after closing. On this night, I learned the hard way why that is the case.

I had a few guests visiting and intended to have them inside the dome to be my final viewers as I was closing. But because they were still outside after the dome closed, I had them follow me through the back door where other people were being turned away. Just as my guests came inside, a woman saw what was happening and tried to force her way in, but was met with my arm at the door. 

“Why are you blocking me?” “Because you tried shoving your way in!” “But why did you let those guys in?” “Because they’re my personal guests.” She then started to get even more vocal. “How is that fair for the rest of us?! We came from {Karenville} and it took two hours to get here from our hotel!” “I’m sorry, but I have to close this door” She got more vocal, “My kids really wanted to get inside! Why do those people get special access?!” “Because they’re my guests!” “And that means they get special privileges?! “Yes, that’s exactly what that means!” “That still doesn’t mean they should get in! How is that fair?!” “If you don’t let me close this door, I will declare you a hostile and radio a ranger!”

After that exchange, the experienced guide tasked with closing the dome intervened and tried calming her down. The woman eventually gave up and left before we had to declare, but not before I further antagonized her by saying, “if you didn’t try to force your way in, then I might have been nice and let you in if you just asked!” It was not my finest hour, and my rookie stunt only added to the stress that night, but experienced staff thankfully had my back and had it handled.

After my boss talked to me and help correct what I should and should not have done, I haven’t done anything like that night since then.

 Overseas Entitlement

We had our guards up because of a shoving incident the night before over a similar situation – someone angry at the staff who wouldn’t let them in the telescope line.

Cue the disappointed father with his family, who approached us long after the lines had closed – “I know the lines are closed, but we’re visiting from overseas and just got here, is it possible you can just let my two kids in?”

We hear that sad tale all the time unfortunately, but we simply cannot accommodate everyone during closing time – park officials are trying to push people out no matter how late they arrive.

“I’m sorry sir, I can’t let them in.” “It’s only two more kids, You can’t let just two more kids look?” “Nope, we can’t allow more people once the lines are closed.” “Not even two kids? “No, it wouldn’t be fair to all the other families we’ve turned away.” At that point he raised his voice and complained, “Wow! I can’t believe this is how you treat your guests!” And he kept uttering words that I couldn’t hear as he walked away.

A minute later, I could hear the man talking loudly to the ranger, and my perception was that he was putting up a scene with the ranger, and I thought it was about to escalate.

I walked over to them, “is there a problem?” The guard told me “yes, we’re fine.” “Okay good, just making sure.” The man then got irritated and asked, “making sure of what?” “Making sure nothing is getting escalated.” The man then blew up again, “You have some nerve! You need to learn your manners! You’re being so rude!”The ranger stood between to help quell the situation. “I was just talking about {another city} to this gentleman! You need to learn discretion!”

After I explained why I came over, he said, “it was a misunderstanding and you apologize?” “Sure.” “You realize this entire time you could have let my kids view?!” “I guess.” “So are you going to let them?” Seeing that my helpful colleague had already turned off the scope and got everything ready to be wheeled off, “Nope. sorry, we have to put the telescope away…” “Wow… you say you’re sorry but you won’t let them view! I can’t believe how rude you are. I’m definitely going to contact your supervisor for this!” After giving him the info he wanted, I told him, “go ahead and complain, I’m just following policy!”

The ranger kept trying to tell the guy to leave but the man kept speaking his mind until  realized he wasn’t getting his way, and then left. To my knowledge, my boss never received any complaints.

We all concluded the guy was just angry that they arrived too late with only minutes to spare, and was just looking for someone to argue with.

Unfortunately, the Observatory’s location and popularity will always mean a sizable portion of people won’t be so lucky, especially if they underestimate the infamous congestion and/or don’t plan their trips well enough.

Thankfully, these stories are exceptions rather than the norm. While I’m sure I’ll get more similar tales as life goes on, most people act civil and respectful when told.

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