Alka Seltzer, Ants, & African Violets

I spent part of my weekend swimming laps with Mama at the Aquatic Center, while Ruby stayed in the shallow end and tried not to drown in the waves that we were creating with our flailing arms and legs. But it was while walking into the building that houses the Aquatic Center that I had a twinge of realization.

I’m not as young as I used to be and I’m not getting any younger.

Now, for those of you that would tsk and scold me about being young, yes, I know that in relative terms, I’m still young. But in addition to the varicose veins I’ve had since I was in my late teens and the crows feet that I realized I had last fall, while I was walking into the Aquatic Center with my glasses off (because come on—who swims with their glasses on?) I realized that by gosh, I CAN’T SEE WITHOUT MY GLASSES!

Now, I’m not ready to get out a walker or start taking Geritol yet. But my bit of epiphany did bring to my mind a story that just begs to be told.

For as long as I can remember, my Granddaddy Jesse and Grandmama Marie wore glasses. Granddaddy particularly had weak vision and in his later years, went blind from macular degeneration. But long before that, we children got used to seeing him pull out a Sherlock-Holmes style magnifying glass to read the numbers on the thermostat.

My Granddaddy was what most of my friends now would call “snarky” and he was rather outgoing in his snarkiness, though he also felt strongly that rudeness or disrespect was not to be tolerated. However, if he had a problem with someone—say for instance, the Alka Seltzer company—he did not hesitate to write them a courteous letter to let them know.

When I was about ten years old, he wrote such a letter to the Alka Seltzer Company. A copy of it remained tucked in one of our photo albums for years, but alas, in my parents’ last move, it has been lost. So, I would like to recreate it here, for your reading enjoyment and education.


Dear Alka Seltzer Company,

On behalf of my wife, Marie, and myself, I would like to thank you for your wonderful product. During our forty years of marriage, it has brought us many nights of relief from colds and other assorted ailments. However, I would like to bring to your attention one minor issue that we recently had with your product. We hope that you will understand and address our concern.

Earlier this week I woke up late in the evening feeling congested. Upon waking my wife, she suggested that I adjourn to the medicine cabinet to partake of your product. However, when I attempted to read the instructions, I immediately found that the letters on the box were too small for me to read.

Still feeling quite congested and now also a bit feverish, I returned to the bedside of my wife and requested that she attempt to read the writing on the box. She got out of bed, put on her glasses and came into the bathroom for the advantage of the better lighting, but she also was unable to read the writing.

For a moment, we were quite frustrated. Just then, my wife noticed an ant crawling across the counter. She stopped him and asked him to read the instructions for us, as he was the perfect size to discern the letters. Unfortunately, his voice was so small that we could not hear him. He did, however, find a fly and relay the instructions to the fly, but again, we were unable to translate his dialect. Finally, the fly told my wife’s African violets. She speaks to them on a regular basis and after consulting them, she was able to direct me on the instructions for taking your product.

Sirs, I again thank you for your useful product. I have found much relief from using it in the past. However, I must respectfully inform you that I will not be using your product again until the directions on it are in a size that I am able to read.

Gratefully and Sincerely Yours,

Rev. Jesse C. Staton, Sr.

**They responded with a form letter along with an envelope full of coupons for Alka Seltzer.**

About Sarah Salter


  1. Hmmm?! Perhaps you should send them the letter because I don’t think they received the letter. Mind you, it’s been a while but the font size is still the same on their instructions. 🙂 LOL! Cute blog today. We were at a Swim Meet this weekend and I couldn’t see the time board on the other side without squinting. GASP!!!

  2. You come from good stock, Sarah! That was hilarious.

    (How did the African violets tell your grandma? They don’t have mouths…

  3. This kind of story cracks me up. We should all tell more of them.

    Apparently, there is a great deal to be gained from writing this sort of letter, even these days. Even if you’re writing to complain, they are so taken aback by someone taking the time, they generally respond!

  4. Sarah Salter says:

    Steph, does this mean you don’t talk to your plants? African violets are particularly high-maintenance house plants. When one spends as much time with their houseplants as my Grandmama did with her African violets, you begin to understand each other…

  5. Exactly. On so many levels.

  6. Okay, I’m loving your granddaddy right now. Reminds me of my letter to Target, but I didn’t get coupons back from them.

  7. Grandparents are such blessings! So much wisdom and common sense. I can only hope to leave such a legacy, especially some with humor. Thank you for a delightful start for a Monday!

  8. Very nice! And Steph, everyone knows that African Violets are telepathic *rolling eyes* 🙂

  9. Sarah, I love your Granddaddy! What a great story he left for you!

  10. That was too cute 🙂

  11. Yes it was funny.. Reminds me of something I might do.. Right??? But old, its a state of mind, and I will fight it kickin’ and hollarin’ ( is that a word) for sure.. And you should too..

  12. Snarky, man I love that word! Your grandfather was a hoot! Oh, you’re not getting older…you’re “improving with age”….


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