Can I get a Grilled Cheese Sandwich

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  • By Susan "The Wife" Bartley
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Can I get a Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Thursday, September 28th:


I needed another kick-ass workout that was outside and brainless. Marc helped me put together a workout using our half keg. It sucked, but on the bright side it was "National Drink a Beer" day so at least I celebrated in good form.


* Lap #1: Around the building (1/3 mile) alternating holding the keg with my right arm for 25 steps then my left for 25 steps then stopping and doing 5 pushups on the keg. This was a real tricep burner

* Lap #2: Around the building holding the keg with both hands up on my belly. Stopping every 50 feet or so to do 8 swings with the keg. The swings were easy, the walking had my hips all wacky and my glutes burning

* Lap #3: Prowler with 45's on each post


Friday, September 29th:

I ran around like a chicken all day doing errands and eschewed training.


Saturday, September 30th:

Marc claimed the early morning time for his outside prowler shenanigans so I was inside watching the front desk. I needed to do a hard cardio/weight workout so I chose to use the stairs. Up and down = 1 rep. 10 reps = 1 set. I did6 sets in this sequence:

Set #1: 5 reps carrying the 20 lb. medicine ball, 5 reps with just bodyweight

Set #2: 5 reps carrying an 18 lb. chain, 5 reps with just bodyweight
Repeat until you have done 3 sets of each.

* Light Belt Squats with just a plate on each side. 10 sets of 10 reps squatting to the floor

* 1 lap with the prowler with no weight. The hope was that this would push all the lactic acid from my calves but it didn't work out as I had planned.


A now a little bit more about that grilled cheese sandwich....


In my life, other than my parents and my husband, there have been 3 people who I credit for helping to shape the person I am today. I can tell you exact moments on my life journey when these people stepped in to either challenge me, teach me, correct me or force me to be a better person. One of these people is no longer with us and will never be able to see how he influenced my life. One of these people, weirdly, won't acknowledge me in public (not sure what that is about). The third person I had the great fortune to run into this past Saturday and I was able to say thank you to her for all that she did to make me stronger, more resilient and able to figure stuff out on my own and get it all done.


In 1997 I graduated from college with a degree in English and not much else going for me. I had been working part-time for SEBA, the Southeast Booksellers Association, and that job turned into a full time position. I LOVED the job. Our organization existed to support independant bookstores in the Southeast and we put on a trade show every year. My boss, Wanda, was the Executive Director and I was the Assistant Executive Director. It was just the two of us in the office and we had a blast. We would do all of our detail work in the morning and then do all of the mindless work in the afternoon and watch our soap operas. I watched the events of 9/11 unfold in that office on a tiny black and white TV. It was a great job.


I learned two very important things working for Wanda. First, I learned how to figure it out...whatever it was...just figure it out. I had worked part-time for her through college and as a part-time employee I always worked with someone during the trade shows. I never was in charge of anything. My first year as a full-time employee I remember setting up the registration booth at the trade show and Wanda came over and said "It's all you baby. I'm gonna be available by walkie-talkie if you need me, but try not to need me because I will be busy" and she left. 10 minutes later the registration booth opened and hundreds of people streamed my way with questions, concerns, gripes, complaints, compliments and a myriad of other issues that I had to find the right answers for. That was the first time anyone had given me the reins to anything and left me in control. It was bumpy at first, but I found my rhythm and I LOVED the registration booth because you got to see and talk to EVERYONE that was attending. I know that is where I learned the gift of gab, and I learned that you just have to step up and start working and it will all get done.


The second thing I learned from Wanda is stick to your guns and don't let anyone walk all over you. I can recount so many stories of this in action but here are just a few of my favorites.


When you spend a week in a hotel eating room service you can get tired of the menu very quickly. Hotel menus aren't always that robust and we found that we would just eat the same thing over and over again. One night, Wanda called to order us some supper and I heard this conversation:

Wanda: "I would like to order a grilled cheese sandwich"

Operator: "I am sorry we do not make grilled cheese sandwiches, they aren't on the menu."

Wanda: "I understand that but I hoped you would just be able to make me one because frankly, I am tired of everything else on the menu."

Operator: "We do not make grilled cheese sandwiches, they are not on the menu. Would you like to order something else?"

Wanda: "Actually, no I don't want anything else I want a grilled cheese sandwich. What would I have to do to get a grilled cheese sandwich?"

Operator: "We do not make grilled cheese sandwiches. You will need to order something else."

Wanda: "Do you have cheese in the kitchen?"

Operator: "yes"

Wanda: "Do you have bread in the kitchen?"

Operator: "yes"

Wanda: "then you can make a grilled cheese sandwich and I don't care how much it costs, I want a grilled cheese sandwich."

Operator: "we do not make a grilled cheese sandwich would you like something else."

Wanda: "Yes, I would like a cheeseburger but I don't want the meat. So please, give me a cheeseburger with no meat, and none of the lettuce and tomato. I want a cheeseburger that is just bread and cheese - nothing else - and can you toast it in a pan with butter on each side until the cheese melts"

Operator: "yes ma'am, thank you for your order. We will get your cheesburger with out meat on its way to you shortly"

She ordered a cheeseburger without meat several more times that week. In a million years, my timid little self would never have pushed that hard to get what I wanted. But the truth is, there was no reason that they couldn't make her a grilled cheese sandwich, she just had to figure out a way to get it done. Persistence is the key.


Another big aspect of Wanda's job was/is to negotiate with the convention center all the details of the contract for our stay. She negotiated the room rates, what we got free, what we paid for, what the food cost. As with any negotiation, these were often fairly heated because she pushed for way more than the hotel ever wanted to give - even though we were bringing a fairly big conference to their venue. At one of these negotiation meetings as she was going through the contract and noticed that the entire hotel and convention center was served by Pepsi, Co. We drank Coke products. She pointed to that in the contract and said "we are going to need coke products". The sales person sort of smiled and said "I'm sorry our contract is Pepsi so that is what we will be serving". I can't remember the details but I think this particular hotel and convention center had inconvenienced us in a big way and they owed us a few favors so Wanda said "I understand that you serve Pepsi, but my people don't drink Pepsi so we will need coke products. I want all my staff hotel rooms stocked with coke products, I want all of my registration areas and volunteer areas stocked with coke products and I want the bar to serve drinks with coke products. I don't care how you do it but for at least 8 days your facility will be offering coke, diet coke and sprite to my attendees." And they did! It was amazing.


These lessons, and so many more, showed me how to stand up for what I wanted and needed and how to get it. She was never rude, or out of line, but she always, always, always stated her needs and assumed they would be met. I am not as good at it as she is, but watching her do it gave me the confidence to live that way. It also served me well when I left SEBA and went to work for Marc at the gym and we began to build our business.


Last saturday I got a chance to thank her. I got a chance to tell her that there was now way I would have been able to help Marc build our business if I had not worked for her and learned so much. I got to thank her for being a kick ass woman, a kick ass role model and a kick ass friend. Was it awkward, sort of, but I said it and I am so very glad that I did.



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