Finding the cure

By James A. Thorson
This item appears on page 45 of the December 2017 issue.

Tell us about the funniest thing that happened to you while traveling in a foreign country. (ITN prints no info on destinations in the United States.) There are no restrictions on length. ITN staff will choose each month’s winner, who will receive a free one-year subscription to ITN. Include your full mailing address. Entries not chosen cannot be acknowledged. 

This month’s winner is JAMES A. THORSON of Buffalo Grove, IL:

By 1982, my wife and I had not done much international travel yet, nor were we very familiar with foreign environments. That year, we took a trip to Russia that included an overnight in Helsinki. I certainly was not aware that, even then, most Finns spoke English fluently.

Having a little heartburn, I tentatively made my way into a pharmacy, where I acted out for the pharmacist and her assistant what I wanted. 

I indicated that I was opening a bottle and shaking out a couple of tablets into a glass. I mimed that I was pouring water into the glass, which I then swirled, making a fizzing sound. The two people in my audience were enjoying this. Then I motioned that I was drinking it down and even patted my tummy and, lastly, burped. They were trying not to laugh, at this point.

The pharmacist then said, “Oh, you want some Alka-Seltzer. It’s on the shelf behind you.”