Panda Express customer at drive thru with caption 'Why I became a real life 'Karen' at the Panda Express Drive-Thru' (l) Panda Express drive thru sign (c) Panda Express customer at drive thru with caption 'Why I became a real life 'Karen' at the Panda Express Drive-Thru' (r)

Kevin Chen Images/Shutterstock @theresarubalcava1/TikTok (Licensed) Remix by Caterina Cox

‘Can I talk to a human, please?’: Panda Express customer says she almost ‘lost it’ at the drive-thru when robot tried to take her order

‘I didn’t quite get that.’


Stacy Fernandez


In a viral video, a mom explains why she almost became a Karen at the Panda Express drive-thru.

In the video, Theresa Rubalcava gets in her car at the Panda Express drive-thru. When she hears that the voice coming out of the speaker is an automated robot, she seems a bit irked but goes on to place her order.

As she’s stating what she and the passenger she’s with would like, the robot cuts her off, saying, “I didn’t quite get that.”

“Oh no, I can’t do that,” Rubalcava says quietly before politely asking the robot if she could “please” talk to a human.

A person quickly comes to the speaker to get Rubalcava’s order.

@theresarubalcava1 I almost lost it for real lol #pov #karen #humor #food #pandaexpress #drivethruorder #recipes #momsover40 #fypシ ♬ original sound – Theresa Rubalcava

“Why I almost became a real life “Karen” at the Panda Express Drive-Thru,” the text overlay on the video reads.

The order with the human is going fine until Rubalcava asks for white rice, which the location is out of.

Rubalcava remains patient but is confused and annoyed about the establishment running out of a staple item. “How do they run out of white rice? I’m about to go Karen,” Rubalcava says to the person filming from the passenger’s seat.

For those unfamiliar with the term, a Karen is a pejorative slang term for a middle-aged white woman who weaponizes her privilege in a way that is demanding, entitled, inappropriate, and sometimes racist, BBC News reported.

Common Karen behaviors are asking to speak with a manager when their requests are not accommodated; unnecessarily calling the police on people of color, therefore putting them in harm’s way; and refusing to wear masks indoors when mask regulations were in place during COVID lockdown.

Many of Rubalcava’s videos are done from the perspective of a Karen, and the creator even has “Karen POV’s” in her TikTok bio.

The video has nearly half a million views and over 430 comments.

Many people agree that a restaurant like Panda Express should always have white rice.

“How does a place of business that serves rice not have a cooker full of white rice on ‘warm’ at all times?” a person questioned.

“This happened to me!!!!! OMG how do they run out of STEAMED RICE!!!” another wrote.

Others said they also prefer a human over ordering with a robot.

“LOL if i pulled up to a window and they made me order with a robot id drive off,” a commenter said.

The Daily Dot reached out to Rubalcava for comment via Instagram direct messages and to Panda Express via email.

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