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.”