Tuesday, April 13, 2010

El Hapless Jalepeno

I had a Mexican friend once that worked with me in California named Mariel. We watched out for each other and made sure our respective files, phone calls, and work got taken care of to keep our bosses and clients happy. This in turn ensured that we didn’t get fired and would each go home with a paycheck regularly which made our spouses happy too. I had gotten back early from lunch and had saved a small jalepeno from a salad. Since Mariel was nowhere to be found, I deftly used clear adhesive tape and strapped that little jalepeno right on to the speaking side of her phone receiver. I then retreated to my own office and shuffled paper while I waited for the show to begin.

I had alerted a couple of other office mates to my deed so when Mariel returned, we all tried to remain in earshot of her office but aloof so as not to create suspicion. It was a frustratingly slow process as the phone did not ring as quickly as I had expected, and at one point I toyed with the idea of calling her myself. But finally, the phone resumed its natural state in our firm and a call was buzzed back to Mariel’s office. To my surprise, she picked up the phone and I only heard the muffled normalcy of a one-sided phone conversation. You could see the disappointment on my workmate’s faces as they tired of the gag and went back to their offices. Clearly I had not thought this prank through.

What had gone wrong – did the pepper fall off the phone? Had Mariel, simply discovered the green lump and chucked it in the trash set on a far more childish prank in the planning stages for retaliation? No, as I peeked in around the office entry, I could see Mariel looking confused as she continued her conversation on the phone. She appeared to be searching for something below her desk and papers but was unaware of my presence. Suddenly she shrieked out with a stabbing soprano bark directly into the phone. I literally fell backwards myself worthy of a 4th Stooge, in genuine terror as this reaction was far beyond anything I had expected. After all, this was a highly serene and ‘professional’ office environment – how could one little aromatic jalepeno make such a stink?

Needless to say, I was relieved that Mariel had only been talking to her sister when she soon debriefed the curious staff as to her sudden outburst. I’m not sure most of our clients at the time would have appreciated working with a bunch of advisors afflicted with Tourette’s. As always Mariel was in good humor about the prank. She described that the whole time she was having the phone conversation she could smell the pungent spicy aroma of jalepeno but could not locate the source. Her sudden and vocal discovery was due to the slightly wet and cold- to- the- touch skin of the jalepeno had made inadvertent contact with her cheek . She thought a green slug or something had crawled up on her phone. No it was just me and my little ‘leftover’ jalepeno always ready to ‘spice up life’ and sometimes literally ‘right under your nose’!


  1. LOL - I love office pranks and think that yours was great!

  2. Lisa - you just like this because you are a Texan and probably have encountered a few hapless jalepenos in your daily life as well!