I popped into the pharmacy yesterday to get some cold and flu pills.

“Hello,” I said, in Croatian. “I need something for a cold.”

“What symptoms do you have?” asked the pharmacist, also in Croatian.

I pointed to my nose, my eyes, my throat. The usual suspects, I thought.

“Vitamins?” she said. “You want some vitamins?” We had, by now, switched to a sort of English.

“No,” I said. “For a cold. To make me feel better. To go to work.”

“This one,” she said. “This is aspirin with vitamin C.”

“No, not vitamins,” I said.

There’s no way to say “give me the hard drugs lady” without sounding like some sort of junkie.

“Hm,” she said. “Do you have temperatura?”

Another customer helpfully translated this for me. “Temperature,” she said.

“I don’t know,” I said. “I have a cold.”

“Well, you don’t have a temperature. Vitamins?”

“No,” I said. “No vitamins.”

Suddenly, I spotted something I recognised. Nurofen Cold & Flu. I don’t normally go in for brands, but there’s something to be said for the familiar.

When I pointed to this, the pharmacist sighed smiled and looked relieved. The exchange had been as painful for her as it had been for me. She handed me the pills with all the pleases and thank yous of an English person.

I still have no idea if I have a temperature.

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Nat Newman

Nat Newman is an award-winning writer of short stories, content, podcasts, feature articles, drunk text messages and, soon, a novella.


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