‘She grins at me and dips the stick all the way into the sauce.’ A Cautionary Tale About The “Hottest Sauce In The Store.”
by Trisha Leigh
People will really die on some strange and painful hills. Apparently, working in a store that gives away samples of hot sauces will convince you of this pretty quickly – and for good reason.
They have tons of hot sauces, a good number of tourists, and way too many folks who come in asking for the “hottest sauce in the store.”
I work in a hot sauce store in a busy outlet mall. We’re a well-liked locally owned business and have many loyal return customers, but at this particular location we also get a lot of tourists who are curious about our challenge items, or “Hot Ones” products.
We have a large variety of samples available every day. Literally like 100 hot sauces, 50+ bbq/wing sauces just out on the table and we can pull another 50+ bottles or so from the fridge if one’s open.
Every so often we get people who come into the store and ask to try the hottest sauce.
They usually guide them to a sauce that won’t cause GI upset and go about their day, everyone happy.
They love jalapenos in their burritos and have eaten habaneros straight and they’re ready to enter the ring, swallow some sauce and gain the admiration of a couple friends and bystanders at the cost of a stomach ache.
We usually try to guide them to the 10th hottest sauce in the store, burn them with it, and move on to something mild or medium suited to their taste.
On this day, however, a 10yo boy came in, interrupted their work, and demanded the hottest sauce.
Today while I was selling items to people who were actually paying for things, a 10-or-so year old boy enters the store. I always get wary when children enter the store alone because it is full of glass bottles. They usually dart straight for the shelves and pick something up, but this child came barreling towards me.
While I make change for the couple buying some sauce, he calls out to me, “Excuse me!”, in a horrendous whiny pitch.
I ignore the rude interruption and continue my conversation with my customers. He parrots it again twelve times or so back to back as I thank these people and get them out of the store.
Finally, I turn to him, “How can I help you?”.
Where the heck are this kid’s parents.
“Hi can I try the hottest sauce in the store.”
They managed to talk him out of it and sent him on his way, but then later, he came back with his mother and sister.
Not this crap again. I am not dealing with this, not with a 10 year old kid. I explain to him that the hottest sauce on the table is Hellboy: Right Hand of Doom.
It’s spiked with a 6.66 Million scoville extract, and honestly if you’re not experienced with this kind of stuff more than just a tiny bit can really mess up a good part of your day. Take my word for it.
I explain to him he has to be 19 years old to try it and sign a waiver (which is bull, but I’m off in 30 minutes so screw this kid), and instead guide him to a tasty fermented habanero that he coughs his eyes out on before explaining to me that he could handle the Right Hand of Doom because his dad eats spicy peppers with him all the time.
“Okay.” I say. He leaves, thank God.
15 Minutes later I’m interrupted by another customer. This time a gigantic woman, in a blue blouse, she’s set next to my sample table like a giant blueberry blocking up 20% of my floor space.
“Excuse me!” Apple doesn’t fall far. The customers I’m with are polite and excuse me to speak to her. “You didn’t let my son try the sauce!”
Mom was upset that they hadn’t let the boy taste the sauce, and they all bragged about their “Mexican dad” and the hot stuff they ate at home.
I explain to her that it has extract in it several hundreds times hotter than anything he has ever eaten and that it can cause him severe discomfort and that I will not let him try it in my store. I explain that she is free to purchase the sauce and have him try it at home if she so wishes.
She explains to me that she married a Mexican man and that I wouldn’t believe the things we ate in “New Mexico City” where he grew up. When I asked what they had eaten there she told me “Things hotter than anything we have in the store”.
At this point her daughter interrupts our conversation, I kid you not, “Excuse me!”
“What?” I’m getting annoyed. I was annoyed from the second I saw the kid and now he’s back 20mins later with three of him.
“Why do you sell Valentina it’s not even a hot sauce?”
JFC. Aren’t you from Mexico? It says Salsa Piquante on the stupid bottle. It’s 5:50, I’m off at 6. I’ve had enough.
OP made Mom a deal that if she tried the sauce and still thought it was ok for her kid, he could try it, too.
“How about this, you can try the sauce and if it’s as mild as you think, I’ll let him try it.”
She agreed and grabbed her sample stick. I reached for the Right Hand of Doom, and unscrewed the cap. It’s nuclear aroma sending memories of aches to my stomach.
As she goes to dip the stick into the sauce, I warn her to “only take a small amount”. She grins at me and dips the stick all the way into the sauce.
Trap card, lady. She slaps it into her mouth.
Well….I think you can guess that Mom couldn’t deal.
Immediately she looks uneasy before she throws herself into pure agony. She is coughing, swinging her head back and forth, trying desperately to speak, but she cannot muster any words. She dropped her sample stick in all the chaos.
After a solid few minutes of coughing and dry heaving, she manages a single word, “water.”
I explain to her that water won’t help her now. My relief walks through the door just in time to witness the finish.
She tells me that the only reason she is coughing is because “it went down the wrong pipe.”
She then immediately vomits into our garbage can. She apologizes for “spitting up” like she didn’t just rocket launch half a litre of chum into my trashcan and then leaves without saying anything else.
I tossed out the trash with a smile on my face and clocked out.
They left and OP’s shift was pretty much made.
Does Reddit think they went too far? Let’s hear about it!
The top commenter says they, too, have been saved by a hot sauce store employee.
This commenter thinks it was the best way to handle this sort of parent/customer.
Bitterness and regret.
This person confirms OP is not exaggerating.
They say you don’t handle it, you survive it.
I will not be trying this, thanks.
Cholula will do for me.