April 2008
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April 2008 SSQQ Newsletter

The SSQQ Newsletter is written by Rick Archer

MUY CALIENTE SALSA PARTY ON SATURDAY, APRIL 12

http://www.ssqq.com/ssqq/party07caliente2.htm 

ABOUT THE PARTY:

Linda Cook and her friends have gone to a lot of trouble to make this party the Salsa Event of the spring.  She asks everyone to wear Pink and Green, but adds other colors will be welcome as well.

For excitement, there will be a big "Dirty Bachata" performance around 9:45 pm featuring Morris and Anjelica, Ulyses and Shelley, Eluid and Delilah (obviously in the grand tradition of Charo, Cher, and Madonna, these performers are known only by their first names).

Later there will be a Flamenco exhibition by a beautiful Russian woman.  Unfortunately Linda doesn't know her name so we will call her "Tamara" since that is one of my favorite Russian names. (Unlike Cheers, this is the party where no one knows anyone's name, but everyone is happy anyway.)

Linda reminds me to say there will be lots of food and that the party will likely go to the wee hours of the morning.  She also promises card games and perhaps strip poker if the Bachata performance gets people worked up. 

This party sounds like it might be the event of the season!

.............

REMINDER: SLEAZY BAR WHIP AND WESTERN PARTY ON APRIL 26

http://www.ssqq.com/ssqq/party08.htm

SSQQ has been described over the years as naughty and nice.  April is the month where we lean towards the 'naughty' side.  Including the DIRTY BACHATA CRASH COURSE at the Salsa Party and the SLEAZY BAR WHIP CRASH COURSE at the Whip Party two weeks later, there will be some serious hip to hip contact in April.  We will keep you posted on both parties, but circle the dates now.

..............

SSQQ SLOW DANCE AND ROMANCE CONGRATULATES ROBERT THERRELL DEBRA MALINOWSKI

Bob Therrell and Debra Malinowski were married on Saturday, March 29  (I think).  Last week I was at the studio and someone told me "Bob and Debra got married over the weekend".   And that's how a lot of weddings around here get announced!

To read more about their story and see their picture, please visit

http://www.ssqq.com/romance/romance2008.htm

..................

HALL MONITORS

We have an immediate Hall Monitor opening on Thursday.  We may have another

opening coming up as well. If you would like to join the SSQQ Staff, please

contact Marla.  You can email her at marla@ssqq.com

................

GREECE, ITALY, AND TURKEY

July 20-July 27

http://www.ssqq.com/travel/greece2008.htm

Since our last newsletter, we have added 3 more people to the trip.  We are now up to 50 people!

This is very good news because we have qualified for a cocktail party courtesy of Royal Caribbean.  Therefore no one has permission to drop out or the rest of us will come get you!

Frankly, this is the most amazing trip we have ever booked.  Italy-Greece turns out to be the hottest ticket this summer.  Even with all the gas problems, according to the travel magazines, this Mediterranean trip remains the most popular destination in the cruise industry right now.

Marla has two Inside Cabins and two Oceanview Cabins at the original rate until April 15.

After that, she can still get you on board at prevailing rate.

If you are game, email marla@ssqq.com

.................

CARIBBEAN DANCE CRUISE

August 24-August 31

Jamaica, Grand Cayman, Cozumel

http://www.ssqq.com/travel/conquest2008passengers.htm

Three weeks ago we were at 90.  Then we hit 111 as of the end of March.  Now ten days into April we stand at 117.  This puts us just 8 passengers behind last year's total of 125. 

Currently this is our 4th largest trip in history.  Marla says there are several people on the fence about going.  With any luck at all we should be able to pass last year's mark soon enough and make this one of our largest trips in history. 

The bad news is that Marla has lost her original space.  She can still get anyone on board at the prevailing rate.  She also asked me to say that if you are signing up without a roommate, she will have to wait-list you until another person comes along.

Marla's email address is marla@ssqq.com

...............

COMPLAINT OF THE MONTH ONE - PLEASE LEAVE THE AIR CONDITIONERS ALONE

Written by Rick Archer

On Monday, April 7, I received the following email from one of our Hall Monitors:

"Second I don't know if you understood when I told you a man named XXX was messing with the air conditioner in Room 6.

I got on to him pretty strong because last week someone told me he was messing with it and I pulled him quietly aside and explained to him that NO ONE other than the instructor and the hall monitors are suppose to touch them by your orders because if they are under 65 degrees they freeze up.  I said if you need something done then always ask your instructor. 

I thought he understood but tonight again he did it so I said something to him in class as he was doing it.  The instructor had his back to the class at that time and didn't see him.  XXX told me that he did that because another instructor let them do it in a different class. 

I figured since he didn't listen to me maybe he would listen to you.

Also a lot of people including men have been complaining to me about Room 1 being too cold, but I tell them to discuss it with you or whoever is in that room.  I had two people tonight complain one man and one woman.  Just thought you should know about it.  Isn't it a headache dealing with the public?  (grin) 

-----Original Message-----

From: Rick Archer

Sent: Tuesday, April 08, 2008 12:26 PM

To: XXX

Subject: regarding the ssqq air conditioners

Mr. XXX

I have been informed that you were asked to leave the temperatures of the studio's air conditioners alone by one of my staff, but went ahead and changed the temperature again despite the request.

You are probably unaware how many people complain about the temperature of the studio.  Some complain that the studio is hot, some complain that it is cold, some people turn around and complain just the opposite ten minutes later.  Basically, it is impossible to make everyone happy about the temperature of all six rooms.

Most people have learned to adapt.  They bring sweaters with them that come on or off as conditions change. 

I am curious what makes you think you have the right to change the air conditioners whenever you please.  What do you suppose would happen if all 200 people on any given night went around changing the thermostat of our six different air conditioners? 

You would have the temperature going up and down, up and down all night long.  Some people would be happy, some people would be uncomfortable.  In other words, things would be the same as they are now, but the air conditioners would be put under increasing stress with the constant changes.

As this is done repeatedly, one serious consequence is that some of the air conditioners would break.  For example, when the temperature on the thermostat is set too low, the AC will run constantly and eventually ice up.  This leads to huge problems, the least being the AC might not work the following night or worse the condenser might fail.  I know this for a fact because I have seen both situations occur several times over the years.

I don't have a problem if you ask a teacher to change the thermostat.  But I would appreciate it if you would show respect for my Staff's admonitions. 

Thank you.

Rick Archer

.......................

 

COMPLAINT OF THE MONTH TWO - REGARDING CREDIT FOR CLASSES

Written by Rick Archer

I suppose of all the headaches from running my business, the never-ending requests for credit is probably the one thing that gets under my skin the most. 

By coincidence, just as I prepared to write this article, I had a credit experience of my own where I was doing the "requesting" as opposed to the "evaluating".

At this stage of my life, I don't read much.  However I have found that listening to books in my car helps reduce road rage dramatically.  Last Christmas I purchased an audio book titled The Book of Fate written by Brad Metzger.  I like Brad Metzger.  Several of his previous books have been a lot of fun to listen to.

On the surface, the book sounded interesting.  "Book of Fate explores the life of a former president....a page-turning thriller about a trusted young aide,...the death of his friend, the victim of a crazed assassin; secrets embedded in Freemason history; and a 200-year-old code invented by Thomas Jefferson."

Unfortunately the book itself became a real disappointment.  But that wasn't my main complaint.  About halfway through the book, the audiotapes became difficult to listen to.  The volume would rise and fall constantly.  Curious, one day I took another set of tapes and played them in the car's tape deck.  These tapes sounded fine.  It wasn't the tape deck's fault.  The tapes themselves were defective.  By the end of the book, the tapes were so bad I could barely understand a word they were saying. 

Since I paid a king's ransom... about $30... for the audiobook, I figured I would seek justice.  What I really wanted was to be given $30 of credit towards purchase of another audiobook or book on CD.  Such was not the case.  The manager of Barnes and Noble explained their policy was to swap out the defective book for a fresh copy.  Except that they didn't have another copy in their store, but they would order one.  I nodded and agreed without protest.  It wasn't what I wanted, but it was fair. 

For the purposes of this article, it seems that the policy of Barnes and Noble is exactly the same as the SSQQ policy which reads like this: "If you take a dance class and you are unable to finish it, you can take the same class over again at a later date at no charge if you contact us by email."

So how well does this policy sit with our customers?  Let's do a review.

 

CASE STUDY ONE

-----Original Message-----

From: M

Sent: Sunday, April 06, 2008 11:51 PM

To: Rick Archer

Subject: beg salsa and beg swing jitterbug

Hi Rick, I won't be able to make it to the rest of the swing lessons.  Can I get a refund?  I will be able to continue salsa.

 

-----Original Message-----

From: Rick Archer

Sent: Monday, April 07, 2008 12:00 PM

To: M

Subject: credit beg salsa and beg swing jitterbug

Sorry, it doesn't work like that.  You are welcome to retake Beg Swing at a later date when your schedule permits.  Just let me know by email a week before you are ready and I will send you permission.

 

-----Original Message-----

From: M

Sent: Monday, April 07, 2008 2:02 PM

To: Rick Archer

Subject: Re: credit beg salsa and beg swing jitterbug

Can I use it towards Intermediate Salsa next month instead?

 

-----Original Message-----

From: Rick Archer

Sent: Monday, April 07, 2008 2:31 PM

To: M

Subject: RE: credit beg salsa and beg swing jitterbug

We don't allow people to move tuition from class to class after the fact.  You pay for a class, you go to the class, if you don't like it you go get your money back or transfer it to another class the same night. 

But after the first night, we assume you are satisfied with your class and operate under that assumption.

 

CASE STUDY TWO

 

-----Original Message-----

From: M

Sent: Sunday, March 16, 2008 10:35 AM

To: dance@ssqq.com

Subject: from M

Hi Rick, I wasn't able to take the 2nd week beginning XXX swing due to this "bug" that has been going around, I missed last Sunday and Mon and had to leave a Crash course on Sat eve early.

 

I am sure I am not well enough to take the third week class today.  May I have credit towards a future class?

 

From: Rick Archer

Date: Monday, March 17, 2008 11:14 AM

To: M

Subject: RE: from M

The way credit works is to retake the same class at no charge when it is offered again. Just let me know if you want to do this.

 

-----Original Message-----

From: M

Sent: Monday, March 17, 2008 1:44 PM

To: Rick Archer

Subject: RE: from M

HI Rick,

I would prefer credit for any class if you can, it will be several months before I can take beginning whip/west coast again and I always take advanced swing so if that is when it is offered I wont be able to take it....is the credit possible?

 

From: Rick Archer

Date: 03/17/2008 2:17:35 PM

To: M

Subject: RE: from M

M, I get fifty to a hundred requests for credit each month.  We have rules.   If I make an exception for you, and then I open myself up to all kinds of headaches.

 

CASE STUDY THREE

-----Original Message-----

From: N

Sent: Wednesday, September 26, 2007 8:10 AM

To: dance@ssqq.com

Subject: credit for unused classes

 

Rick, I am requesting you to give us credit for 2 classes for 2 people when paid for last time.  We were unable to make it for family reasons and are requesting you to give us credit to join 2 classes in the future for both of us.

We would like to take Intro Ballroom in October with Marla and then another class in November if you will give us the credit.  Please advise if you are agreeable with this so we can register now.

 

-----Original Message-----

From: Rick Archer

Sent: Sunday, September 30, 2007 3:21 PM

To: N

Subject: RE: credit for unused classes

Our policy is to allow you to re-take a class over again at no charge.  Let me know when you wish to repeat any of those classes you were forced to miss.

 

CASE STUDY FOUR

-----Original Message-----

From: V

Sent: Monday, January 07, 2008 3:34 PM

To: onlineregistration@ssqq.com

Subject: SSQQ Online Registration Confirmation

I will not be able to make the dance sessions I registered for this month.  Please register me for the dance sessions for Feb.  Thanks.

 

---------- Forwarded message ----------

From: Marla Archer

Date: Thu, Jan 10, 2008 at 12:47 PM

Subject: Re: SSQQ Online Registration

To: V

You have been removed from the Intermediate Salsa class and a $50 credit has been added to your student record. 

You will have to use walk-in registration to use the credit.

 

(Rick Archer's Note: Fast Forward to Three Months Later)

 

-----Original Message-----

From: M

Sent: Saturday, March 29, 2008 9:53 PM

To: dance@ssqq.com

Subject: reschedule

To Whom It May Concern:

A friend and I registered for salsa classes in January but could not attend the classes, so we postponed taking them until now.  We would like to re-register for the classes.  My name is V and my username is VVV.  I would like to register for the intermediate salsa classes on Tues. at 7pm.  My friend's name is ZZZ, username YYY would like to register for the beginning classes on Tues. at 7pm.  Thank you.

 

(Rick Archer's Note:  Since this gentleman gave me explicit dates and student ID numbers, I assumed I would find a record to support his request.  I spent 30 minutes looking for some sort of evidence in the database, but completely struck out.  So this is my reply)

 

-----Original Message-----

From: Rick Archer

Sent: Monday, March 31, 2008 11:11 AM

To: V

Subject: RE: reschedule

There is absolutely no record in our database that you signed up for any salsa classes in January.  That said, I am sure you are correct.  My guess is you signed up with leisure learning, in which case we never entered you into our records because you never showed up.

If you will bring your receipts with you and present them to Marla Archer at the registration desk, we will honor our commitment.

Please be forewarned that if your receipts say "beg salsa", that won't get you into the Intermediate Salsa class.

 

-----Original Message-----

From: V

Sent: Monday, March 31, 2008 2:19 PM

To: dance@ssqq.com

Subject: Fwd: SSQQ Online Registration Confirmation for V

Will these e-mail messages from your wife do?

From Marla Archer

To: V

You have been removed from the Intermediate Salsa class and a $50 credit has been added to your student record. 

You will have to use walk-in registration to use the credit.

 

-----Original Message-----

From: Rick Archer

Sent: Monday, March 31, 2008 5:14 PM

To: V

Subject: RE: SSQQ Online Registration Confirmation for V

I am sorry to be blunt but you just wasted 30 minutes of my time looking for records that didn't exist because my wife already handled this three months ago. 

All you have to do is show up and use your credit in the account as my wife's instructions stated.

 

-----Original Message-----

From: V

Sent: Monday, March 31, 2008 10:27 PM

To: Rick Archer

Subject: Re: SSQQ Online Registration Confirmation for M

My time was wasted as well, looking for proof that I paid for your classes since you did not have a record of it in your database.

(Rick Archer's Note:  And of course we didn't have a record because he asked for future credit three months earlier.  There was a note in his database confirming this, but it was listed under another account number than the one he gave me. 

Here is my point:  Between Marla, myself, and my Registration Staff, we get 50 to 100 requests for credit a month.  The vast majority are mundane requests to postpone the class till a later date.  Not a problem. 

Oddly enough, the problem with Mr. V above is that is he did every right the first time.  He contacted us immediately; we cleared his record and told him what to do when he was ready to come back.  That's when things went haywire.

If you want to change a class, the smart thing to do is ask for it immediately.  We are pretty reasonable.  Where we draw the line is when you miss classes and want different classes to make up for what you missed.  We only have a problem when someone pays for one class, then turns around two weeks/two months/two years later and wants to transfer credit for missed classes to some other class. 

Our rule is you get what you pay for, not something else. 

It is the Book of Fate Credit Rule... if you pay for the Book of Fate and tell us Late, it is your Fate to get another copy of the Book of Fate at a later Date.)

.................

 

COMPLAINT OF THE MONTH THREE - FIRING CUSTOMERS

Written by Rick Archer

Longtime readers of the SSQQ Newsletter know that I occasionally rant about SSQQ customers.  Perhaps the best example is my story about the Demon Dance Customer in last year's October Newsletter.

The adage as we all know is that the customer is always right.  That said, this sentiment seems to in question these days.  For example, I have a friend who tells me she fires her customers occasionally when they stand her up for appointments.  She does it in a nice way, but makes it clear it is time for them to find a replacement for her.

That said, if truth be told, I don't fire very many students.  I would estimate maybe one person a year gets excommunicated from SSQQ.  There are a couple I would to strangle, but by and large the people who come to the studio are friendly, honest, and decent people.  The vast majority of our customers are marvelous human beings.

So what does a student have to do to get fired?   Well, here's an interesting story.

One Sunday night a woman with an unusual last name signed up for a Beginning Ballroom class.  She wasn't happy with it, so she went to the Registration Desk to complain.  First she asked which class had the most men in it.  She made it clear she was looking for men.  Then she changed tactics.  Saying the Beginning Ballroom class moved too slow, she switched her registration to Dakota's Accelerated Ballroom class.  The problem was she didn't have a clue what she was doing in that class and slowed things down.  Dakota became so frustrated with her he asked to leave.  I found his decision unusual because in the two years I have known Dakota that has never happened before.  So now the woman wandered from room to room checking out each class and disrupting them in the process.  She even stopped in my class for a while till my dirty look got her moving again.

Finally she went back to the Registration Desk and demanded a Refund.  She got her refund and left, but oddly enough returned later on for Ballroom Practice Night. 

One of the reasons I like to teach in Room 2 is so I can keep an eye on things.  This woman had been systematically bugging me all night with her comings and goings.  When I heard all the details, especially that nonsense about looking for a man, I decided on the spot to put a note in her student record that she wasn't welcome here any more.

Lo and behold, the woman reappeared later in the week. 

 

I received this email from a Registrar.  I have changed a couple details to disguise identities, but the story is correct.

-----Original Message-----

From:    Registrar

Sent:    April 2008 6:20 PM

To:        Rick Archer

Subject: confrontation

i don't know if the Hall Monitor and i did the right thing today or not.  Ms ZZ was in earlier this week with a bunch of LLU slips.  She wanted to take intermediate classes.

We explained till we were blue in the face that she couldn't take Intermediate courses because she had signed up for Beginning classes.  Today she came back close to break and started arguing over the music in the room.  Class was still going on.  We tried to explain again, but ended up getting loud to talk over her.  The arguing continued through break.  She was allowed to transfer one of her classes to her son and was charged the extra ten earlier in the week.  i took him back and introduced him to the instructor as a new student.  When I came back to room 6 Ms ZZ was trying to call people on her phone and kept asking for your home phone number.  Class then started and the Hall Monitor asked her to leave explaining the rules didn't allow watching and talking on the phone was rude while class was in session.  She started arguing with the Hall Monitor and I joined in. 

She continued to get louder and at one point I suggested that her and I talk outside.  I started to take her by the arm, realized I shouldn't and immediately let go.  I apologize for touching her; I know that in a situation like that I should not have done so.  After some more discussion, she said she didn't know why we were being so mean to here and finally leave.  Also, during break at one point she started rubbing her eyes really hard until they watered as if she were crying.  She did ask for my name and number, I gave her my name and suggested that she e-mail you.  Actually I had been suggesting that she e-mail you all along.

I will be home all evening and probably most of tomorrow if you need to ask me anything more.  Hope we have not done any damage.

(Rick Archer's Note: Taking the Registrar's advice Ms ZZ did indeed email me.)

 

-----Original Message-----

From: Ms ZZ

Sent: April 2008 12:20 AM

To: dance@ssqq.com

Subject: class

 

Hi Rick

Linda told me to email you to explain the situation I am in.

My name is Ms ZZ

During end of last year. I signed up some dance class with SSQQ and paid $200.00 via Internet.  Then, I had to go out of country due to family emergency. I was gone between Dec 31, and Feb. 9,2008. When I was in my home country, I was very concerned about the class I had signed up, but I don't know how to contact your staff from overseas.

When I got back, I understand I was late. I contact someone with phone printed on my signed up receipt, I was told by a man (sorry I forgot his name) that he would allow me to sign up class again for the month of March. It was my fault that I did not immediate finished schedule class with Ms. Cindy from Leisure Learning because I was at work and also I did not have class schedule for the March with me. I told Cindy I would call her back to reschedule but I forgot to do so till the following Friday night on Feb. 29th.

It was late in the evening when I called Mr. ? of Leisure Learning about going to class on Saturday, March 1, my very first dance lesson ever in my life. He was driving on the highway, he told me go ahead and show up at school and he will talk to them.  Well, the situation did not go well, SSQQ staff will not allow me to take class using the fund I paid because I paid to Leisure Learning, not to SSQQ. In order not to miss any class, I go ahead and paid for the class and get a credit from leisure Learning, and,

Now I have another problem, involving April Class and my son's dancing class. I have explained to the dance teacher called Linda. She told me to email you.

Will you please call me in your earliest convenient, Please I must explain to you by phone, because this is a little too complicated to put down in email. I don't want my son to miss another salsa class. And I don't want to miss another salsa class and intermediate ballroom class, too.

(Rick Archer's Note:  When I saw this woman had the same last name, the same nationality and the same Ballroom class as the disruptive woman from the previous Sunday, I assumed this was the same woman.  But I didn't take action until I spoke personally with the Registrar involved. 

The following day - Sunday - I was busy teaching a dance class when the Hall Monitor handed me a phone number and said Ms ZZ wanted me to call her at home.  I was flabbergasted.  Linda Cook had spoken to the woman.  A Hall Monitor had spoken to the woman.  Two different people from Leisure Learning had spoken to the woman.  Marla said she thought she had spoken to the woman.  But that wasn't good enough... now the woman wanted to speak with me in the middle of dance class.

I had the phone number to the Registrar on duty.  I felt guilty because the Registrar was just getting ready to head home, but I figured since the woman was sitting by her phone maybe we should see what she wanted.  The Registrar spent over 20 minutes on the phone explaining our policies.  I was pretty angry.  This was getting ridiculous. 

So the next morning I decided it was time to fire this customer.  Here is the email I wrote:


From: Rick Archer

Sent: Monday, April 07, 2008 2:41 PM

To: Ms ZZ

Subject: problems at ssqq

 

Ms. ZZ, I have spent this entire week listening to one version after another of your encounters here at the studio. 

You had serious problems on Sunday. Now you had serious problems on Saturday. 

I am sure there must be some sort of language barrier, but the consensus shared by several people is that you don't hear a thing we say to you.  Our rules seem to have no meaning to you and you disregard what we ask you to do.

I can see you are equally frustrated by our inflexibility.

Therefore I have to conclude that our organization is unable to meet your needs. 

At this point you have disrupted our classes so badly on so many occasions that I do not think group classes at SSQQ is a good idea for you.  Please do not return to SSQQ again. 

For your information, we do not owe you money.   Leisure Learning has your tuition.  

 

-----Original Message-----

From: Ms ZZ

Sent: Monday, April 07, 2008 8:02 PM

To: Rick Archer

Subject: RE: problems at ssqq

Mr. archer

I have asked Leisure to refund my money this morning under (the Registrar who phoned Ms ZZ) kind instruction, and I have never disrupted your class at anyway by any chance. However, you have the right to side your own employee, and take in words she said. I wish (the Registrar who phoned Ms ZZ) was there that day. There is not language barrier, I understand perfectly when someone talks at me with finger pointed at my face, and I have no trouble understand any conversation with your staff members.

However if the first registrar had explain the way the second registrar did, I would have know why I can't transfer classes. All I heard from the first registrar is that ".....the Leisure Learning took your money, we offer your class for free out of courtesy,.....you need to ask Leisure learning for money back...and pay us..."

And asked me to leave immediate as if I was a criminal, I was a student there, and I was never a trouble maker, the way you said in the letter below, make me feel I was a trouble maker. Have you ever met me in class?  You should have investigated about me with your other staffs before you make such decision. I would love to continue to finish my dance lesson with money Leisure learning refund me if you would change your mind.

 

From: Rick Archer 

Sent: Tuesday, April 08, 2008 1:25 PM

To: Ms ZZ

Subject: problems at ssqq

 

Ms ZZ,

I am sure there are two sides to every story.  Perhaps I have misjudged you.  I admit I have based my decision on the words of the people I have hired to work for me. I also admit I have had no direct contact with you other than your quite reasonable letter.  Thanks to your letter, some doubt has entered my mind. 

Therefore I apologize for the strong words of my previous letter.

One of the problems I am dealing with is that I may be getting you confused with someone else.

Another student with your last name was difficult to deal with on Sunday, March 30.  She was actually asked to leave an advanced class that she had no business taking.  For half an hour, this woman wandered from room to room looking for a class to fit into.  Ultimately she received a refund.  It seems an unlikely coincidence that we had an issue with two different women named 'ZZ' in the same week, but it is possible. 

Here is what I know about your situation.  It appears that at least three different members of my staff tried to explain our rules to you - Linda, (the first Registrar), and Marla.  By my estimate, my staff has now spent close to an hour trying to explain how this studio works.  Now I admit SSQQ is a very complicated studio full of rules regarding credit, refunds, switching partners, no children, etc, but in defense of the studio these rules are posted on the walls, on receipts, and on the Internet where everyone can read them.

Ms. ZZ, I hire people to explain our rules to our students.  This frees me to do what I do best - teach.  On Sunday, April 6th, I was handed a note and told that you expected me to personally phone you at home.  What made you think I could explain our rules any better than these three women?  Instead I chose to have (the Registrar who phoned Ms ZZ) phone you instead.  As I taught my class in another room, I watched as (the Registrar who phoned Ms ZZ) spent over twenty minutes explaining our rules for a third, possibly a fourth time.  I appreciate that (the Registrar who phoned Ms ZZ) does have the gift of patience, but what I conclude is that it took four different staff people to explain things to you.  I also noticed that (the Registrar who phoned Ms ZZ)  was forced to work 20 minutes extra on a night when she was anxious to get home to her fiancÚ.

Here is my point, Ms ZZ.  1,300 students visit our studio each week.  There are many of you and few of me.  I understand that every one of my customers deserves respect and attention, but I have to set realistic limits of how much time I can ration to each student just like a doctor does with a heavy client load.

If every student took up as much time figuring out how our studio works as you did, the studio would become paralyzed with administrative lockjaw.  Not only would I be forced to spend more time answering email than I already do - several hours a day - and hire even more administrative personnel, I would be forced to pass the additional salaries onto my students, thereby alienating them as well.

Although I have no doubt my decision will make people think I am a cold-hearted businessman, I still think it is best that you find another dance studio.  I also ask you to forgive me if you feel that I have dealt with you harshly.  You are clearly not a criminal nor are you a troublemaker.

 

-----Original Message-----

From: Ms ZZ

Sent: Tuesday, April 08, 2008 11:17 PM

To: Rick Archer

Subject: RE: problems at ssqq

Rick, It seem you did confused me with someone else. I did not even get into any other room but your "desk gate", and your staff did a good job guarding it. I address myself as Ms ZZ or they call me, but no one called me by that last name there because that was not how I list my name in the class, and no one had asked me to leave during my class section.

On the top of that, all teacher likes me and praised me as I am a hard working student. I took my dance very respectfully, and practice over and over, and other student also follow my way of learning. I know I pick up movements quicker and I understand music, I always tell classmate the best way to catch up is to practice shamelessly.

I am sure I am not that other woman you are talking about. And I have never received any refund from SSQQ though I had paid $40.00 usd for my first class on Jan. because I did not know Leisure Learning does not forward my $200.00 of payment to your program.

My son is currently taking a beginning class, and he likes it. When I asked for refund from Leisure Learning, I did no refund the money my son used for his beginning, I added 10.00 to SSQQ with (the Registrar who phoned Ms ZZ) to registered him before April because I like your classes, and it would be good for him, too.  I wish I can go to intermediate Salsa after I pay to SSQQ so he can a ride with me to class, he does not have a car. And I wish we both can learn and teach each other through your program.

Please reconsider your decision. I read your profile in SSQQ website. You are a nice person, and your school do lots of good deed to people from all ages with all needs. So why would you shut me out?

 

From: Rick Archer

Sent: Wednesday, April 09, 2008 12:36 PM

To: Ms ZZ

Subject: RE: problems at ssqq

Okay, Ms ZZ, I will admit that much of my decision was based on the behavior of the other woman.

Now that I am convinced you are not the same woman, perhaps we should try again. 

(Rick Archer's Note:  So there you have it.  Thanks to a case of mistaken identity, I fired not one, but two people.  But then after a flurry of emails, Ms ZZ seemed reasonable enough.  I decided that I had probably overreacted.  So I told her we will give it another shot and take it from there.  We shall see. 

I published this story because it is important for people to know I am not always right.  I make mistakes and when I do, I try to correct them.  On the other hand, there are just so many hours in the day.  Each incident like this makes me less patient with the next person.  The next time I get a student who ties up five people's time for this amount of time, see how long it takes me to fire them as a customer.

Just out of curiosity, did all these complaint stories give you a headache?

If you have a comment, by all means share it.  I am open to all constructive criticism.  If I print your response, I will keep your identity private.)

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A VACATION HORROR STORY

(Rick Archer's Note:  Before we get to the Horror Story, please read this story from the Boston Globe first

 

STORY ONE: FBI POSTS PICTURES OF POSSIBLE WHITEY BULGER SIGHTING IN ITALY

By Shelley Murphy, Globe Staff

The Boston Globe

September 14, 07 10:48 AM

Fugitive gangster James "Whitey" Bulger and his girlfriend, Catherine Greig, may have been spotted in Sicily in April by a vacationing federal Drug Enforcement Administration agent who shot a brief video of the couple before they slipped away, according to law enforcement officials.

The FBI posted the video and a still photo today on its website and launched a media blitz in Italy and throughout Europe in an effort to boost the international profile of Bulger, 78, one of the FBI's "Ten Most Wanted," and Greig, 56, who is believed to be traveling with him.

"Law enforcement authorities are requesting the public's assistance in positively identifying the unknown couple,'' the FBI wrote under the photo.

"This could be Mr. and Mrs. Smith from Iowa on vacation in Sicily for all we know and that's why we're asking for help," said Warren T. Bamford, the special agent-in-charge of the FBI's Boston office.

 

STORY TWO: DIO SANTO!  A STORY OF MISTAKEN IDENTITY IN ITALIA

Written by Ken Hoffman

Columnist for the Houston Chronicle

October 29, 2007

Everybody has vacation horror stories.  But try to top this one.

When Mike and Ann Malone vacationed in Italy last month, they expected to visit the usual touristy sights - the statue of David in Florence, the canals of Venice, Trevi Fountain in Rome...

What they did not expect was to spend their vacation inside a police station in the tiny town of Gioia Taura!  To their utter shock, they suddenly found themselves whisked away and locked in a back room for six hours.  And Mike in particular received about the most unwelcome attention imaginable when cops began to put on big black leather gloves for a "special" search of Mike.

"We had gotten off the ferry from Sicily and rented a car for the drive to Gioia Taura in the southwest part of Italy. Ann's grandfather was from that town, and we wanted to see what it looked like. As we were driving, suddenly two police cars began following us. One swooped in front of us, and the other ducked in behind us," said Mike, a commercial real estate executive in Missouri City.

The Malones pulled over. Eight cops jumped out, wearing bulletproof vests, guns drawn, and ordered the Malones out of their car.  The polizia shouted "Documenta!"

"I figured they must have thought our rental car was stolen," said Mike. "I showed them our paperwork and passports. Then I realized that wasn't it.  They took us into the local police station."

At the police station, the Malones were met by four more police officers in plain clothes. They were looking at photos on a computer screen.  The Malones didn't know it then, but the police thought that Mike might be notorious mobster James J. "Whitey" Bulger, one of the FBI's most wanted criminals. Bulger has been on the lam since 1995 after he was indicted on 21 counts of murder and organized-crime activities in Boston.  Bulger, who inspired the character played by Jack Nicholson in The Departed, was believed to have visited Sicily a few months ago.  There is a 1 million euro reward for the capture of Bulger.  It seems that Malone looks a lot like him.

Lucky Malone, huh?

Somebody on the ferry must have tipped off the local police.  "They took photos of us and asked a ton of questions," Mike said. "What were we doing in this city? I said we just wanted to visit the city of my wife's grandfather and look at churches. We still didn't know what they wanted with us. We had no clue they thought I might be this killer from America." After an hour of questioning, the Malones were put in another police car and driven to regional headquarters in Calabria. Both were fingerprinted and had their mug shots taken.

"I kept saying that I didn't have a lawyer. We didn't have an interpreter. I still had no idea what we had done," Mike said.  "This is where it got a little scary. They took me into a room with three cops and shut the door. Ann didn't like us being separated. They told me to empty my pockets. I use Bandits, you know, Skoal dip, and they had no idea what that was. I had to open the can for them.

"I saw that one officer was putting on black leather gloves. I thought I was fixing to be searched really good or beat up really bad. When they searched me, they were frisking my groin area and told me to pull my pants down.  "I was a tourist. I had on shorts with a net lining inside of them. I wasn't wearing underpants. When I pulled them down, I don't know who was more embarrassed, them or me. They told me to pull my pants up.  "I still didn't know they thought I might be a murderer. They thought I was the guy."

Around this time, Ann sensed something serious was up. She began crying. The police said, "Please, signora, no crying."

Ann is a former school principal and, after composing herself, sternly told the cops, "We wouldn't treat your people like this in America."  She warned them, "If you don't treat us properly, I'm going to call your parents and tell them you were not nice."

The police sent copies of the Malones' fingerprints to Interpol, the international police agency. Mike said that before this, he thought Interpol was something made up for the TV show Get Smart. 

Mike's fingerprints and the real killer's fingerprints didn't make a love connection, and the police realized they had the wrong man.  By this time, the Malones had been in police custody for six hours.  They quickly began apologizing, told the Malones they were free to go and even offered to take them out for a pizza dinner.  The Malones said they appreciated the gesture but had to get back to Sicily for their flight home.

"Mostly I wanted to go to our hotel and hide under the bed," Mike said.  Before they left the police station, Ann asked for all of the officers' addresses.

Why, they wanted to know.

"Because you're on our Christmas card list now!" she said.

(Rick Archer's Note:  Just a week before I read Ken Hoffman's story in the Chronicle, I had read a story in the Chronicle about Italy's nationwide search for Whitey Bulger.  It was such a shock to read Hoffman's tale of a Houston couple snared by the Italian Police. 

Can you imagine how scared this couple must have been?  I suppose that is one reason why I enjoy traveling with groups on the Cruise Trips... there just seems to be so much more safety in numbers.

..................

 

NEW FORM OF KIDNAPPING

Contributed by Lonnie Lewellyn

Forward:

This story covers a new twist on kidnapping from a very smart survivor.

Back in March there was a woman standing by the mall entrance passing out fliers to all the women going in.  The woman had written the flier herself to tell about an experience she had, so that she might warn other women.  This story is reprinted from that flier.

PREDATOR STORY

It seems one day this woman finished shopping, went out to her car and discovered that she had a flat.  She got the jack out of the trunk and began to change the flat. 

As she fumbled around on the hot pavement, a nice man dressed in a business suit and carrying a briefcase walked up to her and said, 'I notice you're changing a flat tire.  Would you like me to take care of it for you?'

The woman was grateful for his offer and accepted his help.  They chatted amiably while the man changed the flat.  He then put the flat tire and the jack back in the trunk, shut it and dusted his hands off.  The woman thanked him profusely and he said he was happy to help.

Then as she was about to get in her car, the man told her that he left his car around on the other side of the mall and asked if she would mind giving him a lift to his car.

She was a little surprised and she asked him why his car was on other side of the parking lot. He explained that he had seen an old friend in the mall that he hadn't seen for some time and they had a bite to eat, visited for a while, and he got turned around in the mall and left through the wrong exit, and now he was running late. 

The woman hated to tell him 'no' because he had just rescued her from having to change her flat tire all by herself, but she felt uneasy.  Something raised her suspicions (Trust that gut feeling!)

Then she remembered seeing the man put his briefcase in her trunk before shutting it and before he asked her for a ride to his car.  That was what was bothering her.

So she told him that she'd be happy to drive him around to his car, but while he had been changing the tire she just remembered one last thing she needed to buy.  (Smart woman!!)

She said she would only be a few minutes; he could sit down in her car and wait for her; she would be as quick as she could be.  She hurried into the mall, and told a security guard what had happened, the guard came out to her car with her, but the man had left.

They opened the trunk, took out his locked briefcase and took it down to the police station.

The police opened it (ostensibly to look for ID so they could return it to the man).  What they found was rope, duct tape, and knives.  When the police checked her 'flat' tire, there was nothing wrong with it; the air had simply been let out.  I t was obvious what the man's intention was, and obvious that he had carefully thought it out in advance.  The woman was blessed to have escaped harm.  (Amen, thank you, God!)

How much worse it would have been if she had children with her and had them wait in the car while the man fixed the tire, or if she had a baby strapped into a car seat, or if she'd gone against her judgment and given him a lift?

Mark Bradshaw

Training Coordinator

Humble Police Dept.

310 Bender Ave.

Humble, TX.  77338

(Rick Archer's Note:  Recently on Lifetime there was the story of Seattle's Green River Killer, a man that murdered at least 71 women in a reign of terror that spanned nearly 20 years.  One reason it took so long to find him was his appearance was so weak and unattractive that no one even dreamed he could be a killer. 

Then on the other end of the spectrum of course there is the monster Ted Bundy who was so clean-cut and attractive that he seemed to have no trouble getting women to trust him.

Danger seems to come in all forms and shapes.  The world we live in has a lot of crazies in it. Better to be safe than sorry.)

.................

OUR NEXT TRIP TO THE CHANDELIER BALLROOM - SATURDAY, APRIL 19TH

Robert and Nancy Kaechler are hosting another trip to the Chandelier this month.  Here is what Robert had to say:

"You have learned the steps in dance class, you have practiced at the studio, now it's time to take it out onto one of the largest dance floors in Houston!

Starting at 8:30 pm on April 19th Nancy and I and many of our friends will be at the Chandelier Ballroom and we are inviting you to join us.

The Knights of Dixie Orchestra will provide Big Band music.  We have reserved 3 tables for 36 people.  The cost is $11.00 at the door and the dress is Semi formal, evening attire for gentlemen and ladies. Beer, setups, soda and ice are available at the bar.

We have been to this ballroom on many occasions and have had a great time. I'm sure you have read about it in the SSQQ Newsletter. This is another chance to practice dancing on a large dance floor full of dancers of all levels.

The Chandelier Ballroom is located at 1435 Beall Street in Houston Texas. That is off of 15th street about four blocks west of North Durham Drive. The Chandelier Ballroom telephone number is 713-869-5767.

You can reach me and Nancy at:

rkaechler@comcast.net

Just show up.  You won't have any trouble finding us.  Our group is by far the most energetic and friendliest bunch of dancers in the room.  Come together or come alone, either way is fine.  We will take care of you.  See you over there

(Rick Archer's Note:  For an article about the Chandelier Ballroom plus a map, please visit

http://www.ssqq.com/newsletter/news200705may.htm

Look for Chapter 11.

................

WESTERN DANCING AT THE SAINT MATTIAS BAZAAR - SATURDAY, APRIL 19TH

(Rick Archer's Note: Jim Scott along with his vivacious girlfriend Help Me Rhonda Johnson are fixtures in our Western Ghost Town classes.  He said he was looking forward to this dance next week and hoped some Western enthusiasts could join him.

The St. Matthias Bazaar Kickoff Dance

Featuring the Westwood Traditional Country Band

April 19, 2008

8 pm-12 Midnight

(RESERVED SEATING ON PRE-SOLD TICKETS)

Door Prizes - Cake Auctions

$8 ($15 per couple)

(CHILDREN 12 OR UNDER FREE WITH ACCOMPANIED ADULT)

VFW Post 2427-Tomball

BYOB (Beer and setups must be purchased from VFW)

Sponsored by the St. Matthias Men's Club

Contact Jim Scott Jscott@hou-law.com for more information

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A FUSS FROM RICK ARCHER

In our previous issue, I published a wonderful article on the Health Benefits of Social Dance.  It was a lovely article contributed to the Newsletter by Helen Lengel.

Personally, I loved the article and expected the readers to enjoy it as well.  But I didn't hear a thing.  Just one little email from my friend Kathleen Ballantfant of the Bellaire newspaper who agreed that it was a marvelous article.  After that, deafening silence.

Whenever I go to the Renaissance Festival, I make sure to visit the Mud Wrestlers.  Beforehand, this half-naked mud-crusted quasi-pervert gets up and reminds the people in the crowd that a Dead Audience results in a Dead Show.  I have actually been at a show where the applause barely moved the Scream Meter.  Sure enough, the energy of that performance was kind of listless.

Now you know and I know the score.  They should be professional and do their mud-wrestling antics with the same enthusiasm time and time again.  But you know what?  It really helps to have some interaction.

Ever since I have switched to this Weber Email Service, I have been looking to hit my stride again with the SSQQ Newsletter.  In the old days, people would write me all sorts of things and we would get an exchange going.

These days I don't hear a thing. I have no idea if anyone reads the Newsletter any more.  So I admit it's tough to put much energy into the Newsletter. 

Part of the problem is we haven't had much in the way of complaints lately.  Those complaints used to get my blood boiling and I would rant and you would love it.  Go Rick Go Rick!

Somehow I have to believe the complaints will be back.  But in the meantime, do me a favor.  Send me some feedback so I will know what you like in the Newsletter and what bores you to tears.  If you care, I will gladly protect your identity.  So let's get this thing going again!

(Rick Archer's Note: This note was printed in the previous issue of the Newsletter, but I did not receive one note.  Did no one understand the thread of the article?  The sound of silence is deafening!)

...............

 

AND NOW FOR THE JOKE OF THE DAY - THE CHICKEN STUD!

CONTRIBUTED BY TRACY KING

Farmer Brown has about 200 hens, but no rooster, and he wants chicks.  So Farmer Brown goes down the road to the next farmer and asks if he has a rooster. The other farmer says, "Yeah, I've got this great rooster, named Randy; he'll service every chicken you got, no problem."

Well, Randy the rooster costs a lot of money.  Farmer Brown can see the rooster is pretty scrawny, but based on the glowing recommendation, the farmer decides to take a chance.  After all, the other man said Randy would be worth it. So Farmer Brown forks over the cash and takes Randy home with him.

Farmer Brown sets the rooster down in the barnyard and proceeds to give the rooster a pep talk, "Randy, I want you to pace yourself now. You've got a lot of chickens to Service here, and you cost me a lot of money and I'll need you to do a good job."  Farmer Brown pauses for a second to let his words sink in.  "So, take your time and be sure to have some fun," the farmer adds with a chuckle.

From the look in his eye, Randy seems to understand exactly what he has been told. So Farmer Brown points toward the hen house and lets him go.  Randy takes off like a rocket-propelled missile.

~WHAM~ Randy immediately nails every hen in the chicken coop THREE or FOUR times.  Farmer Brown is just shocked at the little rooster's prowess.

Randy runs out of the hen house and sees a flock of geese down by the lake, ~WHAM~ He gets all the geese.  Randy's up in the pigpen, he's in with the cows.  Jeez, Randy is jumping on every female bird and animal the farmer owns!

Finally Randy seems to run out of steam.  As evening approaches, Randy is just laying there.  Now Farmer Brown is distraught.  No question the rooster is the cock of the walk, but at the same time Randy wasted a lot of time and energy. He doubts seriously Randy needs to be worrying about pigs.  Worried that his expensive rooster won't even last the night, Farmer Brown nervously goes to bed, but he can barely sleep all night long.

Sure enough, Farmer Brown wakes up the next day to find Randy dead as a doorknob, stone cold, in the middle of the yard. The farmer is sick in his stomach.

Buzzards are circling overhead.

The farmer, saddened by the loss of such a colorful animal, shakes his head and says, "Oh, Randy, I told you to pace yourself. I tried to get you to slow down, now look what you've done to yourself."

Randy opens one eye, points toward the sky and says, "Shhh... They're getting closer!"

 

(Rick Archer's Note:  Tracy King was a popular Western and Ballroom instructor here at SSQQ for several years in the late Nineties.  She met her future husband Jeff Perry here at SSQQ.  They were married in August 2002 and soon began a family.  Finally the demands of parenthood forced Tracy to retire from the staff in October 2005. 

This week's joke about Randy remains one of my favorites of all time).

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