REPUTATION CASE HISTORY:
CHERYL THE SAMBA LADY
Written by Rick Archer, July 2007
This story serves as testimony to how 'blogs' can
shape the course of a person's life.
This 2004 tale goes right to the heart of our discourse
My story covers the brief
four-month career of a former
SSQQ instructor named Cheryl.
This is a long story, but I assure you it has a very interesting ending
that serves as an object lesson for everyone who has ever dealt
with their past in Today's Google Age.
So be patient.
FORWARD - GOOGLE
Friedman article in Chapter One of our Essays pointed out
the major role Google plays in shaping the Reputations of
employers finish reading an attractive resume, they will
Google the person next."
"The persistence of memory in electronic form makes second
chances harder to come by,"
Information age, life has no chapters or closets; you can
leave nothing behind and you have nowhere to hide your
skeletons. Your past is your present."
After reading this story, I have little
doubt that all of you will rush out and see what Google
brings up when you put in your own name. You might be
surprised. Very surprised.
The Strange Saga
of the Mysterious Samba Lady
Based on her emails, I had a hunch before I even met Cheryl that she
was one of a kind. Maybe it was her unusual email moniker:
When we finally did meet, I
could see that
Cheryl possessed many talents.
Cheryl was highly intelligent,
full of energy and radiated concern for each student.
She expressed herself well and was
Cheryl was also unabashedly sexy in
the way performers have to be, especially the ones who
parade around half-naked.
I soon came to
realize that Cheryl was the dance equivalent of a "Diva".
There was Cheryl's way and there was Cheryl's way.
Cheryl was used to being the Star and apparently didn't
always accept that the rules applied to her too. Indeed, during
Cheryl's brief stay here at the studio,
she broke more rules than any other
instructor in our 30 year history.
Most of our disagreements revolved around scheduling.
From the very start, Scheduling was a big issue for Cheryl.
She was a busy lady. For one thing, she performed at night
in a band. Teaching until
6:30 pm would cut down on her time to prepare for performing
later on. She had a son, age 15, who required
attention. She had a committed relationship with her
In addition to being a mother, a dance teacher and a
nightclub performer, Cheryl had some sort of medical career,
although I think it was on hold for the time I knew her. She
said she was a doctor, but that threw me for a loop.
What was a doctor doing teaching exercise classes and
singing in nightclubs? Cheryl was always something of a mystery to me.
One thing I could tell from the start was that Cheryl was
ambitious. She was
always thinking of new courses to teach and she loved to
pick my brain for ideas. Cheryl was also the most
prolific email writer I have ever met. I imagine she
spent a couple hours a day in correspondence. Cheryl sent me more emails
in three months (66) than any other instructor
for the entire year. In the process,
Cheryl drove me slightly crazy
because I spent a lot of my own time responding to her
However, one legacy of our plentiful email exchange is that
I have a well-documented story. Please note
I have taken the liberty of omitting most of the emails and reducing
extraneous material from those I did print. Rest assured
that the content I preserved is the truth and nothing but the truth.
THE STORY BEGINS WITH AN EMAIL FROM CHERYL
Sent: Sunday, July 11, 2004 11:00 PM
Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Cheryl. I am an
entertainer recently relocating from the San Francisco Bay area,
where I was an avid dance performer in the community. I was
associated with the xxx Dance Company. I was a regular
performer at Canto do Brasil as a sambista and performed in the
renowned Carnival San Francisco, as well. I have been here in
Houston for two weeks now. I am currently performing locally as
a backup vocalist to the xxxx Band.
I was given a paper advertising dance instruction at your school
and recommended that I contact you about the possibility of
teaching Samba classes there. Could you please let me know it
this is something that you would be interested in. Samba is an
exciting dance form and a great form of fun, aerobic exercise.
I would like to begin teaching classes locally as soon as
possible. Please let me know by what fee structure you pay your
dance instructors and when you would have slot availability for
such a class.
Usually I teach the class for 1.5 hours. I am not available to
teach Friday evenings, as those are reserved for performances. I
would prefer to teach Tuesday and/or Thursday evenings and/or
From: Rick Archer
Sent: Monday, July 12, 2004 11:30 AM
Subject: RE: Samba
Your request is well off the beaten path for my studio,
but I am intrigued.
I have several comments and concerns.
First, Samba has always been a huge black hole here at
the studio. It is a difficult, exhausting dance with
very few possibilities for practical use. For example,
if someone takes a Salsa class, they have several clubs
to attend, but if someone takes a Samba class, their
chances of using the dance are few and far between in
Cheryl and I
continued to exchange emails and eventually met.
Despite a promising beginning, Scheduling was a headache
from the get-go. Cheryl wanted to teach in the morning
or early afternoon, but my studio's Saturday activities had
a long tradition of being held from 4:30-6:30 pm. If
Cheryl wanted her Samba class to succeed at SSQQ, she would
need to find a way to adapt to our schedule.
FROM CHERYL RE SCHEDULING
Sent: Monday, August 02, 2004 10:37 AM
Subject: Re: Samba classes
I think an afternoon classes in September would be good.
I think the class should only be from 4:30-6:00pm
however, because the workout is pretty energy consuming
and they will be pretty well maxxed out by 6:00pm.
If it will fit into the schedule, I would rather do
4-5:30pm. That allows them time to get home, shower and
get on with any evening plans they may have as well.
You let me know what will work with your schedule
Would you wish to start on September 5?
please outline for me your usual compensation for your
As I think about it, the last class in September should
be a two hour class, because that is the class where I
will do a short, costumed samba demonstration for them.
Anyway, for the time being, until I hear further from
you, I have blocked time from 4-6:30 on each Saturday of
my September calendar, as well as 7-9 on Sep 11.
I told her that the times for group
classes were traditionally held from 4:30 to 6:30 on
Saturdays. If you notice in the letter above, she
ignored those times and suggested three other time
I left it up to Cheryl to take it or leave
it. She decided to take it... for the time being.
O.K. 4:30-6:30 it is then. The 4:30 time slot is fine,
but please only schedule from 4:30-6:00 pm. 1-1/2 hours
is a long enough time for a samba class-two hours and
they will be out on the floor (and I along with them ).
Terms are low for me, but then this ain't San Francisco
and I am the new kid on the block, so they are
Saturdays are now blocked on my schedule in September.
kind of a blur for me. I had a good reason - I was
getting married at the end of the month plus Marla and I
were taking 120
people on a Caribbean Cruise aboard the
Cheryl did indeed begin
teaching Samba on Saturdays for us. Thanks to her
scintillating performance at the August Beach Ball Party, the interest in
her class was very high.
Cheryl's first class had 30
people sign up. The energy was high and the potential for big
things seemed promising. Samba had taken the studio by
October was a tough
month for me. Upon my return from the cruise, I was totally
emotionally exhausted from the
wedding and subsequent cruise. All I wanted to do was go on
automatic pilot for a while. I had enough energy to show up and
teach at the studio each night, but that was about it.
Cheryl and I always seemed to have poor timing. October was
the perfect example of our poor timing. Smack dab into the middle of
my exhaustion came Hurricane Cheryl. Cheryl was just a whirl
of energy throughout October. Every day it seemed like there was
one, two, sometimes three emails from Cheryl asking questions and
- For example, Cheryl contacted me about teaching a Freestyle class
(she called it 'Club Dancing'). As the result of her
initiative, Cheryl took a
month off from Samba to teach Freestyle instead. Her first October
Freestyle class had 15 people.
- Then she contacted me about teaching Sambaerobics. Then she
contacted me about teaching Smooth Moves to Smooth Grooves.
Then she began teaching private lessons at the studio during the
day. Then she asked if she could teach Hip Hop, Salsa and R&B
- Cheryl said she would like to help me teach Ballroom on Mondays if she
could bring her 15-year old son along. I said okay as long as her
promised to participate in the class. She said he would.
- Cheryl asked me if I wanted to hire her boyfriend's band to play for
the Halloween Party. I asked her what kind of music he
played... smooth jazz...but they can play any kind of music. I said
I would keep them in mind for future dates. Then she asked if
I would like her to perform the Samba at our party. Sure.
Cheryl asked me if I would mind if she
contacted the entertainment section of the Houston Chronicle to
see if they would be interested in doing a story on Samba at
SSQQ. She figured the publicity
would do us both good. She also suggested
she would contact one of the news channels.
Then she contacted me about having her boyfriend take dance lessons
at the studio at no charge. I said okay. Her boyfriend eventually ended
up in the same class as her son on Mondays.
Next Cheryl asked me
if she could
put a link back to the
page on the SSQQ website from
her own web page on the gigmasters site
(always the self-promoter). I said okay.
Cheryl wanted to know if I wanted her to perform at the
Halloween Party. I said the party was pretty busy, but
thanks for offering. Then she offered her boyfriend's band to
perform at the party. I said this party really didn't need a
band. Then she offered to help decorate. That offer I
Cheryl asked when the studio would be available on Saturdays for her
Samba group to come in early for rehearsals. She was preparing
them to become a performing group. It was about this time that
I came to the conclusion that Cheryl was wearing me out.
The most important email
of the month came in mid-October shortly
after I returned from
Sent: Friday, October 15, 2004 12:10 AM
Looking at the November schedule, I see that samba is still
listing at 4:30-6:30. Again I would like to try to move that
class to earlier in the day, even 2:30-4:30 would be better. The
students all agreed that it is such a high energy class that
they would like to get a chance to go home, relax, SHOWER,
before taking it to the streets....or the studio again in the
evening to strut their newly acquired skills. Their preferred
times were 10:30-12:30 and 12:30-2:30 or 11-1.
Also, we are
coming into peak performance season and most Friday and Saturday
nights will be booked with band gigs, some of which are in the
Woodlands or downtown. Many start as early as 6pm, which means a
5pm set time and usually no later than a 6pm set time.
thing is that I want to bring in live drummers for my 3rd and/or
4th class to give the students a feel of what real Bahia/Rio
style samba feels like. Even playing softly, those drummers will
overpower the concurrent classes. If we are in the studio before
the other classes start, we won't disturb anybody. Besides, we
laugh A LOT in that class! If you haven't heard about the Mr. Hiney, I'm sure you will soon enough!
Well, all your points are legitimate concerns. Now hear my side
of the story.
1. I would have to pay my registration people extra to come in
two hours earlier at 2:30 for the first and second week of
class. That would have to come out of your salary.
2. I would have to redesign my web site to accommodate
the only class
that doesn't start at 4:30. Then I would have to redesign my web site to delete your class
when it isn't offered.
3. I would have to redesign the On Line registration page to
accommodate a class offered at a different time or simply not
allow pre-registration for your class.
4. I would have to redesign my printed schedule to accommodate
the one class that doesn't start at 4:30. Then
I would have to redesign my printed schedule to delete your
class when it isn't offered.
This is an awful lot of work and added expense, Cheryl.
really that important?"
On October 20, she emailed me to let me
know when her boyfriend's band was about to play again somewhere in
Houston and that I should come see them.
Sent: Wednesday, October 20, 2004 11:04 AM
To: dozens of email addresses
Subject: The Band
I forgot to tell you all that this is the band that I perform
with. Come on out and you'll have a great time! You can even
show off some of those new found dance skills in a smaller, more
personal setting. Bring a friend!
I assumed that she was
still trying to get me to hire the band. That's when
I noticed some of the email addresses. My eyes grew wide.
Some of those email addresses were familiar. It appeared that
Cheryl had gotten the email address of every SSQQ student
from her September and October classes, then included those addresses in
this email promoting her boyfriend's upcoming gig.
I was pretty angry. I
had specifically told Cheryl not to collect emails from students. It
has been my experience that every time an instructor collects
emails, it is to promote themselves in some way.
However, I never found the time to sit down and have a talk with
Cheryl about the emails. The studio was about to be thrown
into crisis mode. November was Titanic Month for SSQQ.
In early November, my former wife Judy quit
the studio without
any notice. I will avoid listing the details as Judy
remains sensitive to this day about this subject.
believe I am legally permitted to say her sudden
departure was a critical blow to the studio.
Judy had been running the studio for the
past 14 years. Her loss was enormous. There were emergencies everywhere
that needed to be handled.
I had to push my increasing
concerns about Cheryl to the background
while I put out fires - finding five new teachers,
training Marla to do registration and handle bookkeeping,
plus finding someone to supervise the studio on a
daily basis. So many problems! What a headache!
But Cheryl was in no mood to be ignored.
Sent: Wednesday, November 03, 2004 2:37 AM
Subject: samba etc
A few things:
1) Christopher wanted me to tell you that it
wasn't your class on Monday that was the
problem. His feet got wet before he came in and
because the studio was cold, they became cold
and began to hurt. It wasn't that he didn't want
to dance, but rather that he was just miserable.
2) I am going to be coming into the studio on
Saturdays or Sunday afternoons this month to
rehearse the samba group, if it is o.k. with
you. I think we discussed it before, but I don't
remember what you said the studio fee would be
for rehearsal time. Some of the girls are coming
from Baytown, so we will probably rehearse for
two hours at a time. I have the key to room 6
and we need a large space to move, so that will
work out fine.
3) I wanted to make sure again that it is o.k.
with you that I put a link back to the samba
page of your site from my web page on the
4) Just wanted to tell you that I had a ball at
the Halloween party! My boyfriend had a great
time in spite of himself...and was relieved to
discover that dancing is not fatal! Now if
I can just keep him coming to classes.....
From: Rick Archer
Sent: Thursday, November 04, 2004 12:31 PM
Subject: RE: samba etc
Much to reply to and not much time so here goes:
1) Christopher is welcome in my class anytime,
but I expect him to want to participate. No more
sitting. It is terrible for the mood of the
class to see him and you fussing and fretting.
2) I will make you a deal on the rehearsing. How
about if you and I trade out your helping with
my Monday night Ballroom class for the use of
Room 6 on Saturday mornings for your group??
3) I do not mind a link from your site,
but I do very much appreciate that you keep me
informed of all the things that you are up to.
You have many gifts and much energy and you are
always several steps ahead of me. I need to know
what you are up to so I can make sure your
activities don't interfere with that of the
other people who use the studio from time to
THE BEGINNING OF THE END
From this point on, our
relationship deteriorated rapidly.
For starters, her November Samba class had dwindled to 12
students. Cheryl's first Samba class had 30
people in September, but her students soon discovered her Samba was so energetic
that she wore people out. My original
suspicion that Cheryl had overestimated Houston's
interest in Samba was being confirmed.
Cheryl was disappointed.
Trying to pump up the volume, Cheryl sent out this
promotional email to her email list which had now
grown to 30 names.
Sent: Wednesday, November 03, 2004 3:18 AM
dozens of email
Subject: Welcome to Samba
Wow! What can I say? What a great group! I am really looking forward to working with
you all further this session. It is seldom
that we get a group that is so well
balanced! A few of you may need to work a
little bit harder than some of the others,
but overall, it is
well-balanced and everybody will be able to
keep up, even as we move at a faster pace.
Samba is a joyful, playful dance, so just
relax and have fun with it. The technique
will come with practice. Your main job is to
begin feeling the rhythms. As you feel the
samba, you will do the samba, but first you
must feel it. Thank you for joining me and
allowing me to share with you this
wonderfully, exciting form of dance.
Contrary to my original plans, my scheduling
is all over the place this session, so we
will remain at the 4:30 to 6:30 time slot
for all November sessions. This
means that for this session, we will
probably not be able to bring the live
However, for subsequent
sessions after November, we will be moving
to the 2:30 time slot to accommodate for the
drumming. I will try to see if I can
work it out to get drummers to play for at
least a part of the session this Saturday-
promises due to short notice, as well as
other classes present in the building during
our regular time slot.
news to me that for 'subsequent sessions after
November' that her class would be changing
times. Plus the growing number of email
addresses caught my eye again. We still had not
crossed swords over the email address issue, but
with Judy leaving, there were not enough hours in
the day to fight every battle.
Right in the middle of putting out fires, I received
an email from a student saying that Cheryl had announced to her
class that she would conduct her class from 5-7 pm next
week instead of the usual 4:30-6:30. I shook
my head in disgust. Too bad she hadn't bothered to tell me
Cheryl seemed to require full-time supervision and I
was running out of patience.
I fired off this November 8th email:
Cheryl, I have
received a complaint that you have scheduled
a class to end at 7 pm on Saturday the
13th. Did you
overlook the fact that we have crash
courses that night which start at 7?
Having your class run late creates 3
1) Where are the incoming people supposed to
park? Your people are supposed to leave on
time (6:30) so those spaces get vacated.
2) Your class is
held right in the middle of the
room we use to register people.
3) Most important, what if
all my instructors conducted their classes
whenever they pleased without bothering to
As you know, we have already butted heads
once over the time issue. I sent
you a serious email explaining the
need to keep to the schedule. That was
once. This incident makes twice. The
next time I get a complaint makes
three times and then it becomes a big
You are without a doubt the most unusual
teacher I have ever run across. I
think you have tremendous charisma.
I support your class, but not if your class
becomes a pain.
Sent: Tuesday, November 09, 2004 1:22 AM
Subject: samba problems
Rick, You are unhappy. I am sorry. I did not mean to create a
problem. It was just a
in the schedule so I
didn't think it would create a problem.
I have a
performance that day which puts me in the Woodlands (one of our
few daytime performances and it is a big one). I was trying to
give myself a few extra minutes to rush back down here to make
sure my students would not have to wait. Since it is a problem I
will just arrange with Michael to take separate cars and I will
leave the performance early to start at 4:30.
I will email my samba students to let them know that we will
have to stick to the regular schedule.
We were not anticipating that most of those spaces will be
vacated, because my students have been encouraged to stay and
take the samba crash course, so they can experience yet another
style of samba. The more they experience, the better they become
as dancers, because they develop versatility that crosses into
any form of dance that they may wish to attempt.
Most important, what if all my instructors conducted their
classes whenever they pleased?
Well, Rick, I do understand your point. I am not used to having such
time constraints on my classes, because we always rented our
studio time, so we could move them around anywhere there was
open space if we needed to accommodate schedule changes and all
students were agreeable. Also I usually taught classes in dance
companies, so again we had a little more flexibility to
accommodate the ever changing schedules inherent with
performers. SSQQ is obviously a different kind of studio, so
I'll try to operate in keeping with the way you function.
note, I do have to be out-of-town on November 20. Vicki is also
out of town. Susan is unable to sub and doesn't feel comfortable
enough with her skills to do so. My girls from Trinidad Tobago
are a possibility, but they and the other students would prefer
to skip that week and come on the 27th from 2:30-4:30. They all
agreed they did not want a sub. Let me know if that arrangement
would be o.k. Otherwise, I will just have one of the girls from
the performance ensemble teach on the 20th.
Not trying to be a pain...just trying to make everything work
out so that I can best serve my students.
Also, you indicated previously that the studio could be
available for rehearsal space. I wish to rehearse on Saturday
mornings or the early afternoon, right before the regular samba
class. Will there be any problem with that?
RICK'S RESPONSE on November 10th
I have many problems to handle today.
∑ Your son is a likeable young man, but I will
never stand for having a repeat of last night's
situation. Did you not read what I said in my
last email? "Christopher is welcome in my class
anytime, but I expect him to want to
participate. No more sitting. It is terrible for
the mood of the class to see him and you fussing
realize you love him dearly, but we cannot have
a repeat of the past two weeks.
He sits in the middle of my class talking
on his cell phone! You
promised that he would participate.
∑ Your Samba class. Personally I think we need
to sit down and talk about what you are trying
to accomplish. I don't like the word "never" but
I can't honestly see Samba as a big money-maker
for the studio. Maybe we should restructure our
understanding and simply let you rent space as
∑ You are a good freestyle teacher. I was very impressed when I
watched your class. However I noticed how small the class was.
It is very difficult to get a very large freestyle class, but if
anyone can do it you probably can.
If you are seeing mixed messages
from me, that is
because I like you a lot but you
also drive me crazy.
Somehow I have a sneaking suspicion others have
said the same thing about you in the past.
STRAW THAT BROKE THE CAMEL'S BACK
Sent: Sunday, November 14, 2004 2:26 AM
Rick, I am available
the entire month of December to teach an
advanced samba class on Saturdays from 2:30 to
4:30pm if that is o.k.
My current students
are demanding more samba!
Also, I have had numerous requests to move club
from Mondays back to Saturdays. Many
students are telling me they would like to do
club dance, but just can't make Monday evening
that early. I am available to do 10:30 to 12:30
and 12:30 to 2:30 time slots if you wish to make
Saturdays a full day thing. If not, I'll just
keep my 2:30-4:30 Samba classes. No
stress....just trying to accommodate my own
as well as the popular demand of the
Cheryl's response infuriated me. I had
written her a business email on November 10, but her Nov. 14 email
no mention of it. I did not appreciate being ignored on
Cheryl's suggestions about the Freestyle class
rubbed me the wrong way. Her Monday class in November had all
of 9 people in it. And now she was getting numerous requests
from many students telling her how Saturday had the
vote of the people... all in time slots that did not work for the
Therefore this new email put me in a very bad mood.
... just trying to accommodate my own
schedule as well as the popular demand of the
What kind of moron did she take me for? I would be stunned if
she could produce two emails asking for Freestyle to move to
Besides, where was I going to find a Registrar to drive to the
studio at 10:30 am on a Saturday morning to register Cheryl's 10
I had had it with Freestyle. Many
headaches, few students.
In addition, Cheryl was claiming her Samba students were demanding
more Samba in a time slot I had already said was off-limits twice
Cheryl had perhaps 10 faithful Samba enthusiasts in her group at
this point. These people amounted to less than 1% of the
studio's income. After paying the Registrar and paying Cheryl
her salary for an Advanced class, there would be essentially zero profit in offering the
Compounding the problem,
in the four days between my November 10 email and Cheryl's November
14 response, I had received a verbal complaint from another
instructor regarding drums. The instructor said
that on a recent Saturday they were trying to conduct a
private lesson in another room while the entire time someone
in the Samba group was pounding on a drum.
They said it was impossible to teach no matter what room
they moved to.
I had had it with Samba. Samba was in no
position to be demanding anything.
This drum stuff was the last straw. Many headaches, few students.
My attitude was that Freestyle and Samba combined
were less than 1% of the studio's earnings, but 75% of the studio's
headaches at a time when my patience was very thin.
An old saying crossed my mind:
Don't let the tail wag the dog.
That's when I decided that Cheryl had seriously over-estimated her
importance to the studio.
Big mistake. I was mad. And, sorry
to say, I let my anger
color my judgment. This situation had boiled down to two
people who weren't using to bending very much.
Cheryl was a once-in-a-lifetime talent. I had never before met anyone with her kind of charisma.
Furthermore, Cheryl was not just a good teacher, but an incredible teacher. I
could see that her students adored her.
Looking back, I think if I wasn't exhausted from scrambling to cover
all the holes that Judy's departure had created a week earlier, this
story would have had a much happier ending. Cheryl was
expendable to be sure, but at the same time she was also incredibly
Okay, yes, Cheryl was a Diva. Make no
mistake about that. And yes, she was high-maintenance. So what if Cheryl was a pain in the butt
But at the same time, I also knew Cheryl was a woman with a big
heart. Her goals and mine were exactly the same - create
energy and fun through dance.
If I could just make her comfortable, Cheryl was
definitely worth taking a chance on... Yes, Samba was not the instant money
maker she thought it was, but give it some time. With her
creativity and her ability for promotion, things would begin to
click. I envisioned all kinds of possibilities for dance performances,
exercise classes and in Samba a very unique addition to our dance
If I had to do it all over again, I would have tried much
harder to work it out. But then hindsight is always 20-20,
Instead, I over-reacted. This is the letter I sent.
From: Rick Archer
Sent: Sunday, November 14, 2004 10:11 AM
Subject: Problems at SSQQ
This will be a very long letter for one simple reason - I want
you to leave the studio and I want you to stay.
forces me to go into detail to explain my frustration and the
spot you have put me in.
Here is part of your latest email to me:
"I am available the entire month of December to teach an
advanced samba class on Saturdays from 2:30 to 4:30p if that is
o.k. My current students are demanding more samba!
Also, I have had numerous requests to move club dance back to
Saturdays. Many students are telling me they would like to do
club dance, but just can't make Monday evening that early. I am
available to do 10:30 to 12:30 and 12:30 to 2:30 time slots if
you wish to make Saturdays a full day thing. If not, I'll just
keep my 2:30-4:30 Samba classes.
No stress....just trying to accommodate my own schedule as well
as the popular demand of the students."
Cheryl, I have to be direct with you.
Your latest email indicates your
dance ambitions may be more complicated than I have the patience
to handle. Your "Program" probably consists of a dozen people.
My "Program" consists of 1,200 people, but you keep insisting I
bend my program to fit your schedule. This is a classic
situation of "The Tail Trying to Wag the Dog".
In three short months I have discovered that "just trying to
accommodate your own schedule" has meant one problem after
another for me. I have already told you ONCE I don't have much
spare time to deal with "your schedule." I have too much on my
plate as it is.
As you might guess, I am in a crisis mode with the departure of
Judy Archer who quit a week ago. Every spare minute goes to handling problems caused by her
leaving. This is a very bad time to be asking me to make
exceptions for you.
Simultaneously, you never bothered to respond to a very serious
email I sent you last week. ("samba problems", Tue 11/09/2004
2:23 PM). That was a bad mistake. As a result of your failure to
address my concerns in that email, I am now even more deeply
worried than before that you only dance to the tune of your own
Unfortunately I don't have the time to handle our
misunderstandings. I still haven't finished my story from the
October cruise. I still have 15 pages of Halloween pictures to
post. Furthermore this coming week is "Newsletter Week". Once a
month I go into hibernation and work my butt off for several
days writing a promotional email to advertise the upcoming
semester. Furthermore I am having a new computer system
installed this week to deal with the problem that we don't have
any way to handle payroll due to the way Judy handled her
departure. I am up to my neck in problems.
And since I don't have the time to solve our inability to get on
the same page, I am afraid the safest solution is to simply shut
down your classes for December.
For one thing, I am sick and tired of getting emails from your
students and now you demanding they get "Club Dance" on
Saturdays. I wrote one woman a nice, patient letter explaining
why our contractual obligations with Leisure Learning forced us
to offer the class on Mondays for one final month in December.
Then I added that I would be offering it on Saturdays next year,
but damn if she didn't ignore me completely and sent a second
email demanding Saturday Club Dance again. Now here you are
pestering me about the same thing! There seems to be a pattern
emerging here of not hearing me the first time.
Consequently I have canceled your Monday Club Dance class in
December. That solves this problem.
Nor do I think the studio needs an "advanced samba class" in
December. This week I received a verbal complaint from another
instructor. It seems one Saturday they were trying to conduct a
private lesson in another room while the entire time someone
with your Samba group was pounding on a drum or maybe the music
was too loud. They said it drove them nuts no matter what room
they moved to. Now when you add this to the complaint about how you shift
the time of your class back and forth on Saturdays, that makes
two different instructors who have complained about your samba
I do not have a building manager to supervise during the
off-hours. Most studios - Barbara King for example - have
someone available at all times because they make a living by
renting out space. We don't rent out space to any outsiders.
Unfortunately, you operate like an outsider. Since we don't have
anyone around to keep an eye on your class, you come and go as
you please/do as you please. Don't you think the other
instructors have a right to not worry about drums and weekly
rotating samba schedules?
The moment my other instructors think I give you preferential
treatment, I have an even bigger problem on my hands.
I do not want ONE MORE
TEACHER fussing at me about "The Samba Lady". I
have too many headaches as it is; therefore I am
EXTREMELY reluctant to give you permission to do
anything until I trust you more. Therefore I
prefer that you not teach at the studio in
That said, I have received nothing but high praise for your
work. As I have said repeatedly, you are charming, caring,
intelligent, and charismatic. You are unbelievably talented. I
think you would be very successful if you turned your mind to a
career in dance.
I like you very much personally and I respect your immense
talent. On the other hand, you seem to ignore everything I tell
you unless it is something you want to hear. Plus your timing is
unfortunate - after all the problems caused by Judy, my patience
and tolerance for potential headaches is at an all-time low.
Using a sports metaphor, can you fit your talents into a team
framework? That is the question I have. I don't have the energy
to deal with the constant complications you bring to my studio
much longer. At some point you either have to fit in or go.
As for the future, we both need to decide whether it is worth
the effort to start over. You need to decide whether you wish to
make the effort to adapt to the framework of this very busy
place. I need to decide whether I have the guts to take a chance
After I finish the December Newsletter, we can see if there is a
way to pick up the pieces for January. Or maybe you are a little
fed up too.
Wherever the dust falls, I hope you will know that I agree
beyond a shadow of a doubt you are definitely someone special.
Several emails passed
back and forth regarding the above
letter. After I calmed down a bit, on
December 1, I
decided to give it one more try to get Cheryl
back on board for the January 2007
If you think you can work within the restraints
of a set time format, I am willing to try again in January."
Here is how Cheryl
"Rick, I'll have to get back to you on this to
see what my scheduling constraints will be. I know we have a lot
of band stuff coming up. I also just took a job at Ladies
Workout Express, who incidentally may contact you as a reference
to see if I really was a dance instructor there. Anyway, I don't
know what the schedule there is yet. Then, if we stick to the
schedule as it is set now, the music problem isn't going to go
away- we have drums, even in our CD music. The sound of those
drums carries and will continue to disturb other teachers with
mellower music. I don't know. We can talk about it and see if we
can make something work out. I just don't want it to be major
stress for either one of us.
I like SSQQ. I think it is a neat place; however, I don't deal
well with politics. It seems that I am causing too much
consternation amongst your other instructors. I am not used to
the tattletaling that is going on. I am a performer first and an
instructor second. That seems to be in conflict with the
Saturday scheduling. I respect that we have different agendas,
so it is probably going to be better if I move the samba class
to a different venue, so as to not create any further problems.
By the way, Rick, you said the following things to me in your emails:
"You are a blessing and a talent. .......and you have oodles of
"Cheryl recently moved here from San Francisco and has more
teaching charisma than any other instructor in memory. Currently
she is teaching Samba and Club Dancing for us, but she can do it
all. Cheryl is intelligent, personable,
and boy can she dance!"
may I use these quotes on my website or would you please
be so kind as to send another if you prefer? Thanks!
Also do you
mind if I use your name and the Studio name on the quote?"
I was flabbergasted by
this letter. Not only had Cheryl said she was quitting, she
was asking me for help in getting her next job! However, I
wasn't angry. In fact, I remember half-smiling at her moxie.
This was no ordinary woman indeed. Cheryl was definitely one
of a kind.
THE FINAL EMAIL
Sent: Monday, December 27, 2004 10:31 PM
40 EMAIL ADDRESSES COLLECTED AT SSQQ
Subject: Samba Classes!
Tired of the same old thing?
Want to spice up your New Year?
Learn to SAMBA with Cheryl!!!
Tighten your ABS! Increase your aerobic capacity!
Improve your coordination! Lose weight!
JUST COME HAVE FUN! All levels & all ages welcome!
Ladies Workout Express @ Woodlake Square
$15 per class or save $5 when you sign up for four classes!
$12 per class for LWE members!
Only $10 per class with New Membership!
When I saw Cheryl's Ladies
Workout promotional email, I could not help but notice the size that
Cheryl's email list had grown.
Cheryl was using those names to create her new class somewhere
else. This was exactly the reason I had a rule against teachers
collecting email addresses.
I felt like Cheryl had just stepped on my head in her
scramble to climb to the next rung
on her career ladder.
What an unbelievable waste of time.
But I wasn't really all that bitter. Mostly I was disappointed.
Despite my frustrations with Cheryl, I liked her. Face to face,
she was as pleasant and as charming a person as I have ever met.
Mostly I felt a lot of regret. I knew I had acted rashly.
But having Judy quit was so devastating that I had no energy left for
any other problems. I figured if I could just put things on hold, I
could sort them out later.
When I wrote her in early December, I honestly believed that Cheryl and
I could come to some sort of agreement. With just a little more
patience, I could find a niche for Cheryl at the studio. For example, I
was going to talk to Cheryl about moving her into Salsa. With her brains
and charisma, I think Cheryl would have been a phenomenal Salsa
But I didn't see any point in asking her to change her mind. I accepted that Cheryl had moved on. At that time I
posted a shorter version of this same story in the
January 2005 Newsletter.
After that last email, Cheryl disappeared from sight.
Once in a while an occasional email
request for Samba would pop up in my In-Box. And then I would think
about her and smile... and frown. It could have been good.
Cheryl was the teacher who got away.
CHAPTER TWO: JUNE 2007 -
AN EMAIL FROM CHERYL
To my surprise, three years
later, this story developed a Second Chapter.
One night in May 2007, I was thinking about Cheryl. Don't know
why. For the fun of it, I looked her up on the Internet and
visited her MySpace page. I smiled as I looked at the pictures
and read her stories. What a character!
One month later, completely out of the blue, Cheryl sent me an
email. I grinned when I noticed her new email was longer than War and Peace.
Same old Cheryl!
Sent: Saturday, June 09, 2007 4:50 AM
Subject: The Samba Lady
Greetings Rick Archer!
I hope all is well with you and SSQQ! I have taken my dear
sweet time to respond to the entry you put into your newsletter
back in 2005, because I didnít want to give an emotional
I have to
say now that at the time I first discovered it, I was extremely
hurt and disappointed in you.
I was questioned about it
when a professional colleague googled my name after I applied
for a position as one of the directors of a hospital program.
I had always kept my entertainment and medical careers
separate by using one name for my stage career and another name
for my medical career. You effectively ended that with the
Strange Story of the Samba Lady. The two are now forever linked
At this point in both careers, it no longer matters much, but at
that point, I felt like it was devastating. Although I had many
professional references, including army references that said
that I was both a team player and a team builder,
singular web entry that you posted cost me that job.
I know that was what it was, because they told me so,
referencing that newsletter,
they told me that they had
chosen not to give me the job, because they were concerned about
my ability to be a team player.
I cried for weeks over not getting that job, because I had spent
many years of my life working hard in my medical career to have
the background and experience to be ready for a job like that.
As a minority, it is difficult to even be considered for a job
at that level. Having the opportunity to be considered as a
serious contender for such a job and then to be slapped down for
something like a derogatory SSQQ newsletter was a serious slap
in the face. I actually considered suing you for
defamation of character, as advised by my lawyer, but in
the end decided to let it go, because I just plain liked you and
what you were doing with SSQQ.
Many times, I thought about writing you to tell you how much you
hurt me with that letter, but the letters always sounded too
bitter. Eventually I just let it go and forgot about it.
Tonight, I stumbled across it again when I googled my name under
Yahoo.com (Rick's Note: Is
it possible to Google yourself on Yahoo?).
It is buried pretty far back now, as there have been
many other things written about me since then, but when I came
across it, I realized that the bitterness was gone. There is
still some disappointment, not in what you wrote, but in the
fact that you wrote it.
You see, I never spoke ill of you in anyway, not even
immediately after I left. I did email my students and explain my
departure. I did explain to them that I would still be available
at other locations around town from time to time, but that my
primary focus would be on performance. I encouraged them to
continue taking classes at SSQQ, especially the samba class that
you do offer, because it was a different style with which they
should be familiar. A few showed up in workshops or classes that
I occasionally taught around town. Most showed to see us perform
at gigs, at some time or other. According to what I have been
told, with the exception of two students, all of my students
continued to take classes at SSQQ. One of those students did
continue to take private lessons with me and she eventually was
groomed for performance. She is no longer with me, but continues
as a performer to this day. My understanding is that the other
no longer takes dance at all, other than to shake what her mama
gave her in the clubs (guess her club dance class paid off-LOL).
I have left Houston and moved back to California, but I come
back to Houston to work in the medical profession once a month.
I come back to Houston to perform about once every two or three
months. Even though I am no longer here, I still refer my
Houston contacts to SSQQ.
I have always treated SSQQ and Rick Archer with respect and wish
that you had done the same for me. I have moved on
professionally in both careers at this point in time. Although
the newsletter is apparently permanently stamped in cyberspace,
I donít think it will hurt me much anymore, but I wanted you to
know that it did hurt me once very badly.
Be careful what
you write Rick, as it can affect people in ways that you never
imagined and never intended. I know that was not your
intent at the time. You were aggravated with me, but you are not
a mean person.
I again apologize for any inconvenience I may have caused you,
but it was never my intent to hurt you in any way either. I
continue to look back fondly at my time at SSQQ, in spite of the
backbiting that occurred amongst the instructors. I still say
you give the best darned Halloween Party out there!
By the way, just for the record, that incident with the
drums on the Saturday never occurred. Your instructor
overheard that I was going to have that class on the Saturday
and bring the drummers. We ended up cancelling that, so we were
never in the studio that day at all! That was pretty much the
straw that made me not accept your offer to return. It wasnít
you or your studio per se. It was the fact that I really didnít
want to deal with the politics of instructors that would stoop
to such a level to get me out of there. I didnít blame you for
that either, because I knew that you were only responding to
what you had been told. If the picture that was painted to you
was askew, how could you possibly know that and be held
accountable for it. You did what you saw best based on the facts
that you had, not knowing that all of your facts were not always
what they seemed.
Anyway, it IS water under the bridge now, just wanted to let you
know. I do continue to follow the happenings at SSQQ and
continue to be amused at all of the entertaining antics of Rick
Archer. Keep up the good work my friend. You are a credit to the
dance world by bringing the gift of dance to others who might
not otherwise experience it!
May your feet be ever
light on the dance floor and your dance shoes never pinch your
Cheryl xxx, M.D.
p.s. If you have a myspace page, hit me back and Iíll add you to
my friends list.
Wishing you always the best, Rick!
THE FINAL WORD ON CHERYL AND GOOGLE
when I first wrote my original Newsletter about Cheryl, I had no idea how powerful - and dangerous - Google would become.
But we all know now.
QUOTE from the
Thomas Friedman article):
"For young people", writes Seidman,
"this means understanding
that your reputation in life is going to get set in stone so
much earlier. More and more of what you say or do or write
will end up as a digital fingerprint that never gets erased.
My generation got to screw up and none of those screw-ups
appeared on our first job resumes, which we got to write.
For the current young generation, much of what they say, do
or write will be persevered on-line forever.
employers finish reading an attractive resume, they will
Google the person next."
As you have read, my friend Cheryl has confirmed that Mr. Seidman's assertion is
At the time when I wrote the original
January 2005 story
about Cheryl, I didn't give it a second thought. It
was simply a bittersweet story about a very interesting
For the record, I deeply regret costing Cheryl the job she refers
to. That said, I think it would give her satisfaction
knowing that at least her story now stands as a permanent
testimony to the power of Google.
But Cheryl has taught us a second lesson as well. Please
QUOTE from the Thomas Friedman article:
Michigan, Seidman writes, one hospital taught its
doctors to apologize when they make mistakes."
I am curious to know how many of the readers changed
their point of view about Cheryl after reading her
Saturday, June 09, 2007
Email posted above.
I definitely changed my opinion of Cheryl.
The truth of the matter is that Cheryl employed
a marvelous technique: A soft answer turneth away
Her letter was biblical in its
effectiveness. Cheryl simply asked me as
nicely as possible to let bygones be bygones.
she had no way of knowing is that I completely rewrote her story
after the email.
I began to see Cheryl in a
totally different light. My point of view began to
shift. As I re-read what I had said, one phrase after
another began to move towards the positive. I gave
her the benefit of the doubt on several key issues...
all because Cheryl wrote a nice letter.
marvelous lesson in human relationships.
What Cheryl has taught us is a
valuable lesson on "How"
to rehabilitate your Reputation.
Cheryl the Samba Lady provided us with two
First her story showed us the damage that
Google can do to someone's Reputation and
Second her story showed us how it is
possible to rehabilitate your image if you
do make a mistake.
These are powerful lessons indeed.
In our next Reputation Chapter, we learn
even more about protecting our Reputations in the Google