Funny how the memory works. I just met a very nice family man at the school by
my house, where he was teaching his boy how to ride a two- wheeler. I was, of
course, walking my dog and enjoying the whole spectacle.

To be honest, I had to forcibly restrain myself from butting in and taking charge. I
loved teaching my kids how to ride, but this was not my kid! Who the heck am I
to tell someone how to do anything unless asked?

Everything was going fine in the lesson until the kid made a turn too sharply and
took a little spill. The boy laid there waiting for Dad to pick him up and send him
off again.

Dad was having none of it; he wanted Sonny to brush himself off and learn that
he could do it himself. The kid was perfectly ok as soon as he got up and ran to
Mama, who picked him up and loved on him for a minute.

Strangely, something about this beautiful event reminded me of a terrible incident
I witnessed years ago on a hitchhiking trip I was on.

I must have intentionally forgotten about it, but here goes:

It was the summer of 1988, and I was wandering the streets of downtown St.
Louis. I had a backpack so, as long as I kept moving, no one really bothered me. I
actually fit in pretty well with all of the street dwellers.

I stopped at a disgusting convenience store to use the pay phone for my weekly
call home. There, waiting in line, I, and a fellow bum, listened in to a young
man’s very upsetting conversation.

He was crying as we heard him tell a loved one that he had AIDS and wanted help
from whomever was on the other end of the line.

The call did not seem to go well but, when he hung up, we made eye-contact.
From the look of things, we were both about the same age and a conversation
ensued.

I think maybe it was because I was a stranger, and he thought he was going to
die, that allowed him to open up to me. He told me that nobody touches him
anymore; not a handshake, not a hug, not even a pat on the back.

Please keep in mind that this was a time when AIDS was new and was a virtual
death sentence. I was scared and, I am embarrassed to say, the talk we had was
from a distance. I chose to find a different phone to make my call.

Then he told me the last thing I remember about the conversation. He said that he
knew his fate, he had come to terms with it, and that he only wanted one last
thing before he died.

“I want one last time to feel my Mama take me in her arms and love on me again.”

Here’s the tip: You can communicate more of who you are with one appropriate
touch than from any other method. Humans need human contact to feel alive,
wanted, and appreciated. And when a person feels appreciated, they buy.

Dan “The Deej” Jourdan

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