Big Dave makes America hug again.
DC will be the first two-fer of my tour. I will begin the day at the La Colombe Cafe -1710 I Street NW, Washington, DC 20006 - from 7:30 to noon and then take a short stroll over to Lafayette Square Park to share some hugs with passersby, protesters and all types people at The White House.
Every day off is the same - find random folks to hug and high5!
Thought I have never been to Cupcakes Down South - whee I am going to be hugging - they have a special place in my heart.
You see, when I was self publishing my book, "Traveling at the Speed of Life”, I went through Amazon’s CreateSpace program which is hq’d in Charleston.
I was very pleased with my decision and their work but was initially trepidatious because i never spoke to the same person twice when I called and was only addressed by my member number when I called in - not David, Dave or even Mr Sylvester.
They are perfectly professional and polite and I get why they do it BUT as I inched my way toward crossing the fabled “I’m Published” finish-line, I wanted more than politeness: I wanted a connection!
I mean, I had had a hand in every part of my story - the biking, the hugging, the high5’ing, the writing, everything - and now at this crucial juncture i felt marginalized by a call center procedure.
I tried making small talk but that went nowhere …shit.
I tried calling at only certain times to ensure my speaking with only one representative but that didn’t work either…Double Shit.
I floated the idea of meeting with them in person at their Charleston South Carolina HQ but they told me that they aren’t allowed to do that- I guess that there are a lot of nuts out there and they want to limit their exposure….….Holy SHIT!
I felt stymied...but then I had an idea: Cupcakes!!!
I called CreateSpace and asked for their physical address and then called Cupcakes Down South and explained my circumstances.
I didn’t know if it would help matters but said it nevertheless, “My book is hinging on these cupcakes so please do your best.”
Then I crossed my fingers.
When I called the next day, as soon as the person typed in my number he said, “Hey it’s the Cupcake Man!! What can i do for you??”
They even sent me a picture of them enjoying the cupcakes.
Full Disclosure: My first idea was to send a bottle of booze but rethought my idea because who wants a bunch of drunks woking on their book??
Years later i am a bestselling author and coming to give a hug and finally get a cupcake!
I traveled to Orlando right after the horrible Pulse Nightclub shooting. It was an extremely emotional visit but I didn't let anything deter me in my efforts to make others smile and move forward beyond the tragic circumstances.
I return hoping to make even more people happy.
Celebrate Independence Day by going out and high5'n some random folks!
If I am not mistaken, this picture was taken near Mountain Home, Idaho around July4, 2002.
You've heard of a bar-crawl where you go from tavern to tavern doing shots...well in Nashville, I will be doing the first ever Hug Crawl where I will be going from bar to bar on Broadway - asking folks for hugs and high5s - come find me.
Here I am at a Nashville City Council meeting getting a proclomation!
Returning to Mississippi to embrace people is going to be special. My family moved to Starkville, Mississippi briefly when I was a kid and I recall my time in the Magnolia State fondly.
The attched picture is my 4th grade pic from Ward Elemenary School.
For hugs, I will be at Cups Cafe, The Mississippi Capitol Building and Hal and Mal's bar.
Here is an excerpt from my best selling book Traveling at the Speed of Life about biking in Mississippi:
My first bicycle expedition was in fourth grade when my family and I had literally just moved to Starkville, Mississippi from Philadelphia.
Within hours of our arrival, my restless energy was driving everyone crazy. So, to ease tensions, my mother said something that gave me the ultimate green light.
“Just go out and ride.”
Without a care in the world, I grabbed my bike with its purple banana seat and pedaled out into the surrounding farmland with only my tremendous thirst for exploring to guide me. I ripped through Starkville’s rural streets, screaming “Hellooooo” as loudly as I could to anyone or anything that could hear me, until it started to get dark.
Starkville, Mississippi is not Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Without nearly as many streetlights, night falls hard. My little heart pounded furiously as I pedaled through the unfamiliar graveled streets with one eye on the darkening horizon and the other on the road. As the encroaching night amplified my fear, along with every sound I heard, I remember thinking that what I felt must be the exact feeling that the vampire hunters in the movies must feel. Frightened by my own thoughts, I raced through the streets and eventually barreled through the doorway of our new home.
Once inside, I looked out the window and across the blackened acres that surrounded me and smiled. The ride was not that far, but it was a big stepping stone for me, because I had made it through a vast territory: my own fear.
I am really looking forward to this day because I will not only be hugging San Antonio's Mayor -elect but also a long time friend; Ron Nirenberg.
I trained Ron way-back-when, in the late 90's, when he was in grad school at The University of Pennsylvania.
Then, Ron was a straight shooting, honest and hard working young guy and I am so pleased to see that he's grown into a fine family-man and civic leader.
We'll meet at Rosella's, his favorite breakfast spot and I will spend the rest of the day hugging and high5'in.
Austin is one of my favorite town in the country and home of my very dear friend Brian Rodgers who bicycled across Africa and Asia with me- it will be good to catch up.
Heere he is in Africa on an expidition to save rhinos.
In terms of hugging and high5in I will be at Jo's Coffee all morning to help people have a great weekend.
Flagstaff is the home of the world famous Pay-n-Take Bar...never heard of it??
No worries, neither did I until I met Scott Miller while bicycling Africa.
Scott is one of the owners of the cafe and man of leisure and has traveled the planet putting Petey Pay-n-Take stickers everywhere!
Come get a hug...and a sticker!!
Phoenix is the home of the Cardinals football team and they are coached by Bruce Arians.
Bruce was my head coach at Temple University and here is my fav story with him:
One day my father came up to practice to check things out and said that he wanted to talk to coach. I said 'cool' and told my father to ask him if i was ever going to get some playing time - I was a walk-on.
I watched my father go up to coach and talk and talk...and talk some more. And then, I saw something that I didn't expect: I saw my dad cry.
WTF, I thought.
"What happened," I asked.
My father said, "Coach Arians said that you were ok as a football player but he can see that you are a Hall of Fame'r as a man."
Being totally absorbed in my own shit, i countered with, "...yeah, but when am i going to get some playing time."
My dad just laughed and said . "Damn, you're dumb."
I never got much time on the playing field and my dad never forgot coach's words- anytime saw Bruce Arian's name in the paper- he would smile and say , "that man saw greatness in you."
I truly hope that I get to hug coach and tell him that I am still working on it.
On this day I will be driving 281 miles toward Billings, Montana.
I was hugging and high5'n at the RNC in Cleavlend last year and met Texas Governor Rick Perry. It was the second day of the converntion and while evryone else was draggin' tail - Rick enetred the cafe - clean as the board of helath.
Not a hair out of place.
He wals staright over to me and says, "i hear that your atre the man to talak to if i need a hug."
Hell yeah, I repliy and from there we have a short conversation about my travles, biking texas and life. He then asks for a pictire with my sign and asks for a hug - which i oblige. He then leaves the cafe to go to a waiting car - stops gets out of the car - comes back into says, "Man that really is a good hug- can I get another ?"
While hugging, I am trying to think of soemting clever to say and all i can do is think of Bill Clinton's rsepnese after meeting him: He's a good lookin' man.
So after the hug is over, I look at him and say, "you really are a good looking man" and he just looks at me blankly and says, "...well, yeah" and we laugh.
From there he went on to do his thing at the RNC and so did I.
Happy Valentines Day from the heart of the country!!
Firms sometimes bring in speakers to motivate the troops and I am that guy!
i will be speaking to Prof Gail Ramsey's Communication class about writing of "Traveling the Speed of Life" and my experiences in the publishing industry.
I will be speaking to 6th graders about life, travel and all things fun at Agile Cat, a Philadelphia branding firm.
As a part of his continued effort to inspire, David will be leading the University of Illinois student-athletes in volunteering at various charitable organizations and lecturing later on.