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Jalepenos Are Not Hot

August 4, 2014

Hey Bliss, wanna try some fresh Jalepenos?

Sure, let’s get some. We can challenge the other missionaries to a pepper eating contest.

The contest was a dud. We psyched ourselves up for it. Six Mormon missionaries in our apartment in Chicago all sat around the table holding a fresh plump Jalepeno pepper. At a count of three we all took a big bite out of it.

What do you think?

Meh. I’ve had green bell peppers that were hotter. Maybe they aren’t really Jalepenos, or maybe there are multiple kinds.

I don’t know a lot about peppers. Throw them in the fridge. Maybe we can add them to a sauce or something on Sunday.

Yeah. I didn’t know a lot about peppers. And by the time Sunday rolled around, five days later, I, along with my fellow missionaries would pay the price for our ignorance.

In software, things are not always what they seem. Couple that fact with the truth that programmers are eternal optimists and you expose the reason that project managers include a buffer in their calculations.

Edward (The Creepy Mini-Me) was a good programmer at RESMARK. We desperately needed a web version of our product. I’d tried putting teams on it. I’d tried putting pairs on it. I tried outsourcing it.

I can do it.

Are you sure? It’s kind of a complicated PHP page that ties into the backend MySQL database.

No problem. I’m sure I can handle it.

Long story short is that Edward couldn’t. Oh, he tried. But, he didn’t realize the complexity before he started. His ignorance kept the project from being successful, and ultimately led to Edward leaving the company under tense circumstances.

The project wasn’t as simple as it at first appeared. Kind of like those Jalepenos.

On Sunday we pulled the bag out of the crisper drawer in the bottom of the refrigerator, where they had apparently been marinating all week. They looked about like they had the previous Monday. Maybe not quite as plump, but they still had some pretty good body to them.

I’m not making spaghetti sauce today. Let’s just eat up what’s left.

And six always hungry missionaries grabbed the peppers and started munching on them like carrots.

It’s was after the second or possibly third bite that the pain started. Nothing helped. Several missionaries headed for the sink and tall glasses of water. The water made a great dispersing agent. The pain that had been localized in their mouth now permeated it.

Several of us opted for milk. We didn’t so much drink it as hold it in our mouth to try to dull the pain. Bread was another favorite technique.

Drops of sweat formed on our foreheads. Sweat was pouring down our faces. Our feet swelled so much we had to take our shoes off.

Put simply, we were six VERY uncomfortable young men.

So, what happened? A week earlier they were mild as parsley and five days later they were literally searing our sinuses.


None of us were familiar with peppers. Apparently when you first pick them, they are milder. As they dry, they start to acquire their potency.

Walking around barefoot, with sweat trickling down my back while trying to shove bread into my mouth full of milk, I realized that things are not always as they at first appear.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife and thirteen children and one grandchild.

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  1. Mary Louise Miner permalink

    I think my former missionary son will relate to your article!!!! It must be a right of passage for missionaries to eat jalepeno and other peppers that challenge their manhood. He was challenged at a member’s home to eat the death sauce. He took that challenge and I think he told me he not only drank all of the milk but shoveled sour cream into his mouth as fast as he could. I appreciate using this analogy with a program manager’s challenge and will defintely remember this lesson when committing to a project.

    • I didn’t think of the sour cream. The only consolation is that we were all in it together. It was definitely a learning experience!

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