Funniest thing for January

Tell ITN about the funniest thing that ever happened to you while traveling in a foreign country. There are no restrictions on length. (ITN prints no info on destinations in the U.S., Canada, Mexico or the Caribbean.) The ITN staff will choose each month’s winner, who will receive a free one-year subscription to ITN. Entries not chosen cannot be acknowledged.

This month’s winner is GARY WEAVER of Upland, California:

It was an overcast, chilly, late afternoon in Belfast, Northern Ireland. I had strayed from the flock and was exploring in an off-the-beaten-track area while wearing a windbreaker, every square inch of which was printed with a world map. On the opposite side of the street I noticed a group of eight or 10 young men approaching dressed mostly in black. They had that arrogant stroll that we usually associate with trouble.

Almost as if in formation, they crossed the street and headed straight for me. I looked for a store or pub to turn into, but there was none. I had found the only block in Northern Ireland without a pub! I briefly considered running before remembering that I hadn’t run in 20 years.

About eight feet away from me they all suddenly stopped, and before I could offer them my camera and money they put their arms around each other’s shoulders and began to sing very loudly and off-key, “He’s got the whole world on his back!”

After a brief pause, during which I partially recovered from cardiac arrest, there were smiles, laughs, handshakes and back slaps exchanged all around. Now I really needed a pub!