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Don’t shake hands with everybody – The Cow-Tail Switch and other West African Stories by Harold Cour

Frog had a large farm. When it was time to clear and plant he went down to the village to get help, because it was more than he could handle alone. He asked the people of the village to come and help, for the villagers always supported one another with their crops.

All the men of the village came. After they had cleared the land, Frog fed them and thanked them for their help. Then the great crowd of workers left his house. There were so many of them that they formed a line several miles long.

“I wonder what else I can do to express my appreciation for the goodness with which these people have treated me.” Frog said to himself. “I know, I will shake hands with everyone who was here!”.

He ran to the front of the long line of men and turned around to wait for them.

As the first man came to where he stood, Frog grabbed his hands and shook them enthusiastically and shouted: “Oh, thank you! Thank you ever so much!”.

He let go and grasped the hands of the second man and shouted again: “Thank you! Thank you ever so much!”.

He grabbed the hands of the third man and shouted: “Thank you! Thank you!”.

There were some strong men among the workers who, when they shook hands with Frog, squeezed his hands very hard. There were so many of them that after a while Frog’s hands became fully flattened out. After they had all gone - poor Frogs hands were hurting so much from shaking - he went to God to make a complaint.

God listened to Frog and inspected his flattened hands. Finally, after Frog was all through telling about his complaint, God said: “You were a little overenthusiastic. From now on, when you wish to thank a crowd, send a messenger to the village to express your gratitude.”.

Frog went away, his hands still flat. But sometimes now, when he looks at them, he remembers God’s words: “Don’t shake hands with everybody but send a message!”.

Be grateful, but be smart with your health as well.

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