Hot Pepper Anticipation (Issue 927)

In which we are reminded that sometimes, we have to rescue clients from their decisions.

One evening, a couple of months ago, I was out to dinner with a group of friends. [I know, you’re shocked, right? I so rarely write about food!] We were eating family style. There were some appetizers and a salad and one of the main entrée courses was a stew, a meat and sausage stew, cooked in a Jamaican style, pretty spicy. Among the many bits floating around in the broth were some red peppers. One of the group asked, “what are these?”, holding one of them up.

 “Oh,” replied another member of the group. “That’s a red bonnet pepper. Pretty hot.” [They are anywhere from 12 to 140 times hotter than a jalapeno pepper.]

Now, the guy who asked this question is a big guy. He’s about 6‘4” tall, probably weighs in the range of 260 pounds. He’s had heart problems in the past. (This becomes important in a minute.) He picks one of the peppers out of his broth and raises it to his mouth, apparently, to eat it.

Several of us, almost in unison, said, “Oh, no, you don’t want to do that.”

 “Oh, yeah?,” he replied. “What’s the worst that could happen?” And he put it in his mouth. And bit down.

He did not die. Or collapse. However, within two seconds, his face turned dark scarlet. He started to sweat. His eyes popped out a bit.

He spit out the pepper and started grabbing anything on the table that he thought might relieve his suffering. He grabbed an ice water and started chugging it. “No, no, you don’t want that!”, shouted one of the group. “That just makes it worse.”

No matter… .He tried wine (worse). He tried bread (a little relief). He tried rice (helped a bit more).

Someone suggested, “put some butter on your tongue!” (It turns out that milk or full-fat yogurt or sour cream (none of which were at hand) or olive oil (of which there was plenty in the restaurant) would have helped – they dissolve the chemical in the pepper that bonds with the pain receptors on our tongues). Sugar (which also was close by) could also have helped.

But, he wasn’t having any of it. He shook his head, ‘no’ and, for another 20 minutes, he sweated and suffered.

Sometimes, friends and clients make uninformed, careless, or bravado decisions. It can be helpful at the time to share the potential consequences of their plans. And, sometimes, it’s just useful to know (and have close by) the antidotes.

Nick Miller trains bankers to attract and expand relationships with businesses. More profitable relationships, faster. He is President of Clarity Advantage based in Concord, MA. Additional articles on Clarity’s web site.

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