Good Business Practices in Budapest

Illustration by Marshall Reeves

My family hasn’t produced great businessmen. Despite it, we always recognized great talent in that field. Take my fecund maternal grandfather Josef. Having fathered seven children, he thought that the family was now big enough to take care of itself, though not at the cost of his stopping all the fun. While on a business trip to Budapest in November 1904, he stayed, as usual, at the Hotel Gellert. Around the corner from it at that time was the St. Salvator Pharmacy, wherein the window they had a sign about a magic potion they had which prevented conception. Grandpa Josef quickly acquired the wonder drug and hurried back home for those enchanting nights with granny Anna.

And on September 1, 1905, right on schedule, arrived my mother as their sixth child. While everybody was overjoyed, Grandpa Josef was quietly furious. He hurried to the now not-so-magical pharmacy to show them a picture of my naked mother on a sheepskin rug and to give them a piece of his mind, pointing out that the sign in the window was in fact false advertising. When he was finished. the raptly listening pharmacist gladly gave him his money back. Then he politely asked if he could borrow the sheepskin rug picture overnight to show it to his wife, who adored cute little tykes like that, thereby completely disarming grandpa Josef.

The next day when grandpa came to retrieve the photo, the anti-conception sign was gone from the window. In its place was a much-enlarged picture of my mother on her sheepskin and underneath it an easily readable text which proclaimed that the St. Salvator Pharmacy had a potion which resulted in babies as beautiful as this.

Now, that’s what I call business acumen.


Introduction to Drabek’s Glossas

According to one wag the two signs of old age are:

a. the inability to stay with a thought.

b. the inability to leave that thought.

As a well-established octogenarian, I have been warned of the dangers. In this collection, I have tried to avoid them by limiting myself to one-page essays, which I call glossas. I feel that brevity has become a lost art in this age when so many people live in constant fear of being misunderstood. We tend to explain and explain — God, how we explain! And since our emails often abbreviate only words, not thoughts, I consider this to be a pioneering effort.

My glossas deal with some of the things I feel qualified to comment upon and quite a few I don’t. That too is downright revolutionary, because until now it has been largely assumed that such things as conflict avoidance and pathology should be left to the experts. But let’s be honest about it: that kind of approach has left us with two world wars and something called 9/11. And we’re still without a cure for the common cold.

This volume then breaks entirely new ground in that it explores home remedies. And since the paper’s getting short, let’s begin.

Jan Drabek

Jan Drabek


The octogenarian Jan Drabek has been an ambassador in Africa, Chief of Protocol, author, Vancouver High School teacher, a graduate student in southern India, a radio announcer in Germany, a sailor aboard a US aircraft carrier, and a failed naval aviator trainee.