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Karen complains about barista’s ‘Airpods’ – which were really her hearing aids

A deaf barista was shocked to learn that an angry customer had emailed the owner of her coffee shop to complain about the ‘Airpods’ she wore while taking her order — which are actually her hearing aids.

Helen, 20, from California, was surprised and confused when she came into work one day last month to learn that a customer had made a formal complaint about her.

The customer had emailed the owners of the company to blast her for being ‘extremely unprofessional’ by wearing wireless earbuds during her shift, not realizing that the devices she saw on Helen’s ears were her medically necessary hearing aids.

Uh-oh! A deaf barista called Helen, 20, was shocked when she went to work at a coffee shop and learned that a customer had made a formal complaint about her wearing AirPods

Oh dear: Helen, from California, is medically deaf and was actually wearing hearing aids, not a pair of AirPods

Oh dear: Helen, from California, is medically deaf and was actually wearing hearing aids, not a pair of AirPods

Oh dear: Helen, from California, is medically deaf and was actually wearing her hearing aids, not a pair of AirPods

Helen – who has otosclerosis, a condition that causes the abnormal growth of bone in the middle ear and results in severely impaired hearing – explained what happened in a viral TikTok video that’s been viewed over 655,000 times.  

‘So I go into one of my jobs, I go to my coffee shop job, I have an amazing day. Everything’s fine. I go home,’ she says.

‘Next day, I walk into my job and my shift lead says to me, “Hey Helen, there’s something that happened, and it’s gonna p*ss you off, it p*ssed me off, I already defended you, so don’t worry about it, but you’re gonna be annoyed.’

Helen wondered what could possibly have happened. 

‘I haven’t done anything wrong at this job, I love this job,’ she said.

She turned out to be right — and the issue was a clueless, meddlesome customer who got ahead of herself. 

‘Apparently, one of the ladies that I helped out that day emailed our owners,’ Helen says.

The customer had complained that event though

NItpicky: The customer had complained that event though Helen’s customer service was great, she was wearing Airpods

Sticking her nose in: The woman said it 'was extremely unprofessional and a horrible look for the company'

Sticking her nose in: The woman said it ‘was extremely unprofessional and a horrible look for the company’

‘In this email, [she said] that she had a fantastic experience with me, great customer service, but I was wearing AirPods while taking her order, which was extremely unprofessional and a horrible look for the company,’ she says.

‘Yeah, I don’t own AirPods. Those are my hearing aids,’ Helen adds, moving her hair back to show one of the hearing aids in her ear.

‘I guess I had my hair up in a bun, she saw something in my ear, and was p*ssed and emailed our owners,’ she says.

TikTok commenters are infuriated by her story, with many expressing hope that the ‘Karen’ who complained was made aware of her embarrassing error.

‘I hope they tell her and she feels sooooo embarrassed,’ wrote one.

‘If you were in a wheelchair she would have complained you were sitting down,’ speculated another.

In a follow-up video, Helen said that the owners did wrote back to the complainer. 

Joke's on you! Helen wears hearing aids, which are what the woman saw

Joke’s on you! Helen wears hearing aids, which are what the woman saw

‘Obviously, the owners emailed back,’ she said. ‘I don’t know exactly what they said but what was relayed to me that they said is that [it was something along the lines of, “The employee that you’re referring to is hard of hearing/deaf and wears hearing aids. If that makes you uncomfortable, feel free to bring your business elsewhere.’

Helen added that it felt ‘good’ to have them stick up for her, and she doesn’t know what the woman who complained looks like.

‘I only had really good interactions with people that day, that’s why I was so confused that I got a complaint,’ she said. 

‘People will convince themselves that their emotions are completely a hundred per cent justified, and kind of rewire the truth into thinking that that’s their truth.’ 

She also promised that she isn’t offended and thinks the whole thing was ‘funny.’ 

Helen had previously gone viral for revealing that she didn’t even know she was deaf until she was 16 because of major failure of her school, which conducted hearing tests every year — but dismissed her hearing issues. 

‘For as long as I can remember I was failing those tests, but they would always ask me one question after them: “Have you been sick within the last few weeks?”

‘I always was sick when I was younger, so I’d say “yes” and they would say, “Oh your sinuses are probably just clogged up,”‘ she recalled.

This happened all through her schooling until her sophomore year of high school, when the school nurse told her that she’d failed the hearing test again. 

‘I explained to her, this has happened every year, it’s not really a big deal to me. And she was like, no, it kind of is a big deal, this happens every year?’

The nurse was surprised to learn that no one had every contacted her parents about it, so she finally did. 

Finally, Helen was taken to a series of doctors, including an audiologist, to further test her hearing. An ENT eventually diagnosed her with otosclerosis, a condition that can cause mild to severe hearing loss.

‘The bones in my ears that are supposed to conduct sound aren’t conducting sound properly,’ she said. explaining how she finally got her hearing aids. 

‘I love my hearing aids and I love being part of the deaf community,’ she added.


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