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0837 Driving While Calling and Texting

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Complete Transcript
Welcome to English as a Second Language Podcast number 837: Driving While Calling and Texting.

This is English as a Second Language Podcast episode 837. I’m your host, Dr. Jeff McQuillan, coming to you from the Center for Educational Development in beautiful Los Angeles, California.

Our website is eslpod.com. Go there. Download a Learning Guide. Go to our ESL Podcast store and improve your English even faster. I’m trying a lower voice to day. I’m going to try to talk like that, kind of like Elvis. Well, not like Elvis.

This episode is a dialogue between Pamela and Josh who are calling and texting and doing all sorts of things when they shouldn’t be doing them. Let’s get started.

[start of dialogue]

Pamela: [laughs] Did you see this tweet from Sarah? She’s so funny.

Josh: Hold on. I’m texting Lance. I want to make sure he knows where we’re meeting up.

Pamela: [cell phone rings] Hello. Oh, hi Lance. Did you get Josh’s text? You didn’t? Let me IM you, bye.

Josh: I wonder why Lance didn’t get my text. I sent it from the same number I normally use.

Pamela: [cell phone rings] Hello. Jessica! Where have you been? I’ve been emailing you for three days. I thought you’d fallen off the face of the earth. What? You’ve been on vacation with your parents and you’ve been incommunicado, with no web access and no phone signal? That’s mind-blowing!

Josh: Ask Jessica whether she got my text. I’m really starting to worry about my account. Better yet, I’ll text her a photo of us right now. Say “cheese.”

Pamela: Cheese. [brakes squealing] What was that?

Josh: It’s just a reckless driver. Just change lanes.

Pamela: You change lanes. You’re the one driving.

Josh: No, I’m not. How can I be driving when I’m so busy texting?

[end of dialogue]

Pamela and Josh are talking. Pamela says, “Did you see this tweet from Sarah. She’s so funny.” A “tweet” (tweet) is a message of a hundred and forty characters – sort of like a hundred and forty letters and spaces – that is sent through a service called “Twitter” (twitter) – which many of you are probably familiar with. I’ve been on twitter since, oh, 2006, maybe 2007 – eslpod, of course, is where you can find us on Twitter. Pamela is talking about a tweet – a message that she got from a friend of hers, we assume, Sarah, Josh says, “Hold on” – wait a minute – “I’m texting Lance.” “To text” (text) is to send a short text message on your telephone, on your cellular telephone – your mobile phone – to someone else. Josh says, “I want to make sure he” – his friend lance – “knows where we’re meeting up.” “To meet up” is a phrasal verb that rally just means to meet someone. But “meet up” – with a (up) at the end – is a little more informal. Usually, it means we’re going to go and we don’t have any particular plans. It’s not a business meeting. It’s more of an informal – social meeting – you might say.

Pamela answers her cell phone and says, “Hello? Oh, hi Lance. Did you get Josh’s text?” – Did you receive the text that Josh just sent you – “You didn’t?” “Let me IM you. Bye.” “IM” or as a verb – “to IM” means to send someone an instant message. “IM” stands for instant message or instant messaging. A lot of online programs allow you to send IM’s and they get to the other person immediately. Josh says, “I wonder why Lance didn’t get my text? I sent it from the same number I normally use.” “The same number” here means the same phone number and in some ways, Josh is saying, from the same phone or the same phone account. “Number” has a lot of different meanings in English however. Take a look at our Leaning Guide for some more of those.

Pamela’s cell phone rings again and she says, “Hello. Jessica. Where have you been? I’ve been emailing you for three days.” – I’ve been sending you emails – electronic messages you send through your computer, of course. Pamela says, “I thought you’d fallen off the face of the earth.” This is an old expression – “to fall of the face of the earth” – means to disappear for a period of time without telling anyone where you’re going, without communicating with your family or your friends. “She fell off the face of the earth” – she just disappeared. No one knows where she is. Pamela says to Jessica that she thought Jessica had fallen off the face of the earth. Of course, we don’t hear what Jessica is saying. We just hear what Pamela is saying on the phone. She says, “What? You’ve been on vacation with your parents and you’ve been incommunicado? With no web access and no phone signal?” The term “incommunicado” (incommunicado) means that you are not able to communicate with other people – that you are not able to be in contact with other people. You don’t have a phone or in this case, in Jessica’s case, she didn’t have any “web access.” “Web” here means Internet. She didn’t have any ability to connect to the Internet – to get on an Internet connection. She had no web access and “no phone signal,” meaning wherever she was, there was no cellular or mobile phone signal – no ability to use your phone because there simply isn’t any equipment from a telephone – a mobile telephone company that you can communicate with.

Pamela says, “That’s mind-blowing!” “Mind-blowing” (blowing) is something that is very surprising – something that is very hard to believe. Something that’s almost extraordinary.” It’s almost impossible – that’s mind-blowing,” or “That was a mind-blowing movie.” We can also use this as a verb – “to blow someone’s mind,” or “That really blew my mind.” “Blew” (blew) is the past tense of blow. It’s irregular. “It blew my mind” – it was something that surprised me or shocked me – something I wasn’t expecting. Josh then says to Pamela, “Ask Jessica whether she got my text. I’m really starting to worry about my account. Better yet, I’ll text her a photo of us right now. Say ‘cheese!’” “Better yet” is an expression that means even better. We use it to emphasize that what we are going to say next is even a better idea than the idea we just told you. So, for example, I may say, “Let’s go to the movies. Better yet, let’s go to Hollywood and make a movie or be in a movie.” You see, the second idea is better than the first. Why just go to a movie when you can come here to Hollywood, in Los Angeles and make a movie, right? Well, that’s the general idea of “better yet.”

Josh says that he’s starting to worry about his account. He’s not sure if his text messages are being sent out properly from his phone number, from his phone account. So, he suggests sending Jessica a photo of Josh and Pamela. And so, he takes a photo – a photograph, a picture – of himself and Jessica. And when you take a photograph in English, of someone else and you want them to smile, we use the word “cheese.” So, “Say cheese!” Because when you say the word “cheese” (cheese) – a type of food – you have to open your mouth and you can see your teeth when you say that word. Pamela says, “Cheese!” And then we hear the brakes squealing. “To squeal” (squeal) is a very high-pitched sound. You heard the sound in the dialogue. “Squeal” is a verb we would use to describe noise that is being made by tires of a car or automobile when you suddenly have to stop. The tires are, of course, the four circular pieces of rubber on each corner of the car that go on the wheels. When you have to stop suddenly, your tires may squeal or if you leave suddenly. You suddenly try to go fast when you are not moving – you go fast quickly – that could cause your tires to squeal – to make a noise. Basically, it’s the noise made by a wheel against the street.

Pamela says, “What was that?” Josh says, “It’s just a reckless driver.” Now, of course, we hadn’t really realized in the dialogue until now that Pamela and Josh are driving while they’re doing all this tweeting and texting and IM-ing and phone calling and taking photos. A “reckless (reckless) person” is someone who’s not careful, who’s not cautious – who’s doing something dangerous. And, of course, the joke here is that Josh and Pamela are doing something very dangerous, or at least Josh is, if he’s driving. And he’s saying that the other driver was being reckless. Josh says, “Just change lanes.” So, just is telling Pamela to move to a different part of the road. A “lane” is a section of a road. Here in Los Angeles, we have freeways, highways that have three, four, five lanes on each side. So, there are five places that a car can go in a certain direction. Pamela is being told by Josh to “change lanes” – to go from one lane to another – one section of the road to another.

Well, of course, we thought that Josh was driving and that’s what Pamela says, “You change lanes, you’re the one driving.” Josh says, “No I’m not. How can I be driving when I’m so busy texting?” Josh saying he can’t be the one driving because he’s texting. Of course, the joke here, which is not such a joke, is that it can be very dangerous to be doing all these things while you’re driving. And here in the United States, especially here in California, it is now illegal to be texting and driving at the same time. The amazing thing is you actually have to tell people not to do that. People are so stupid, they don’t realize that you shouldn’t be texting and driving at the same time but people are stupid everywhere and apparently, especially here in California.

Now let’s listen to the dialogue this time at a normal speed.

[start of dialogue]

Pamela: [laughs] Did you see this tweet from Sarah? She’s so funny.

Josh: Hold on. I’m texting Lance. I want to make sure he knows where we’re meeting up.

Pamela: [cell phone rings] Hello. Oh, hi Lance. Did you get Josh’s text? You didn’t? Let me IM you, bye.

Josh: I wonder why Lance didn’t get my text. I sent it from the same number I normally use.

Pamela: [cell phone rings] Hello. Jessica! Where have you been? I’ve been emailing you for three days. I thought you’d fallen off the face of the earth. What? You’ve been on vacation with your parents and you’ve been incommunicado, with no web access and no phone signal? That’s mind-blowing!

Josh: Ask Jessica whether she got my text. I’m really starting to worry about my account. Better yet, I’ll text her a photo of us right now. Say “cheese.”

Pamela: Cheese. [brakes squealing] What was that?

Josh: It’s just a reckless driver. Just change lanes.

Pamela: You change lanes. You’re the one driving.

Josh: No, I’m not. How can I be driving when I’m so busy texting?

[end of dialogue]

All of her scripts are mind-blowingly good – that’s Dr. Lucy Tse we’re talking about. Thank you, Lucy!

From Los Angeles, California, I’m Jeff McQuillan. Thank you for listening. Come back and listen to us again here on ESL Podcast.

English as a Second Language podcast is written and produced by Dr. Lucy Tse, hosted by Dr. Jeff McQuillan. Copyright 2012 by the Center for Educational Development.

Glossary
tweet – a short message of 140 characters maximum sent through Twitter, a popular online messaging program,

* How many tweets does Yoshihiro send out in a typical day?

to text – to send a short, typed message through one’s telephone to another telephone

* A lot of teenagers like to text more than they like to call their friends.

to meet up – to meet with someone informally, especially to hang out (spend time without a specific purpose) with friends

* Let’s meet up at the ice cream shop after school tomorrow.

to IM – to use instant messaging; to use online programs that send and receive messages (almost) in real time

* The professor become really frustrated when students IM instead of listening to the lectures.

number – phone number

* Chelsea lost Maguerite’s phone number and couldn’t get in touch with her.

to email – to send a typed message electronically through the Internet using an electronic mail (email) program such as Gmail, Hotmail, or Yahoo!

* Please email us with your flight information before you leave on your trip.

to fall off the face of the earth – to disappear for a period of time without any communication, so that one’s friends and family do not know where one is

* Edgar’s new job keeps him so busy, it’s as if he has fallen off the face of the earth.

incommunicado – not communicating with other people; without being in contact with other people

* Sorry I’ve been incommunicado for the past few days, but I’ve been working a lot.

web access – the ability to access the Internet; having an Internet connection

* Web access is extremely limited in remote, mountainous areas near my home.

phone signal – the ability for a cell phone to connect to a tower to send and receive phone calls

* Javier’s company wants to be the first one to guarantee phone signals anywhere in the country, anytime.

mind-blowing – very surprising and hard to believe; extraordinary

* When Muhammad found out he was being awarded a Nobel Prize, he couldn’t believe it. The news was mind-blowing.

better yet – even better; a phrase used to emphasize what comes next as an even better idea than what one had just talked about

* Let’s throw a big birthday party for Melody. Better yet, let’s make it a surprise birthday party!

to squeal – to make a high-pitched noise, like the sound of a pig or the sound of tires stopping very quickly

* Damon’s brakes squealed as he stopped his car quickly to avoid hitting the cat in the road.

reckless – not careful or cautious; doing dangerous things because one is not paying enough attention

* My teenage daughters are reckless drivers, because they’re too busy talking to their friends to pay attention to what is happening on the road.

to change lanes – to move from one part of the road to another when two or more lines of cars are traveling in the same direction, usually to pass a slower-moving car

* Remember to use your turn signal before you change lanes.

Comprehension Questions
1. Which of these methods did they not use to communicate with Lance?
a) Telephone.
b) Email.
c) Instant messaging.

2. Why does Pamela say, “That’s mind-blowing”?
a) Because she doesn’t believe Jessica.
b) Because she has a hard time imagining what Jessica has described.
c) Because she completely forgot what Jessica had told her.

Answers at bottom.

What Else Does It Mean?
number

The word “number,” in this podcast, refers to a phone number: “Jorge changed his phone number so he wouldn’t get any more calls from his ex-girlfriend.” A number can also be used to mean a performance, such as a “dance number” or “musical number”: “Our school’s talent show has two musical numbers and one dance number.” “To do a number on (someone)” is to treat someone poorly, or to trick or deceive them: “The repair person did a number on me by doing a poor job at fixing my shower and then charging me a lot of money for it!” Finally, “by the numbers” means to do something according to the rules or in the way that it is normally expected to be done: “My manager likes everything to be done by the numbers.”

better yet

In this podcast, the phrase “better yet” means even better and is a phrase used to emphasize what comes next as an even better idea than what one had just talked about: “Let’s replace the tile in the kitchen. Better yet, let’s put in hardwood floors and granite countertops!” The phrase “the better part of (something)” means most or almost all of something: “We spent the better part of the year on that project, so we were very disappointed when it was canceled.” The phrase “one’s better half” refers to one’s spouse (husband or wife): “This is my better half, Rodrigo.” Finally, the phrase “against (one’s) better judgment” describes doing something even though one didn’t think it was a very good idea: “Against my better judgment, I agreed to let Shane pick the paint colors for the house.”

Culture Note
Efforts to Stop Distracted Driving

Many organizations have “launched” (started; implemented) “campaigns” (efforts involving many people) to reduce or “eliminate” (get rid of) “distracted” (not able to pay full attention) driving, specifically driving while texting and/or talking on the phone. Many, but not all, of these campaigns are “aimed” (directed) at teenagers, who “tend to be” (are usually) the greatest “culprits” (people who are guilty of doing something bad).

The Ad Council (an organization that produces “public service ads” (messages on important social issues)), the State Attorneys General (elected “chief” (most important) legal officers in state government)), and the Highway Traffic Safety Administration “run” (operate; manage) a campaign called “Stop the Texts. Stop the “Wrecks” (accidents).” It is aimed at teenagers and young adults, who often “overestimate” (think something is larger or greater than it actually is) their ability to text safely while driving. Similarly, the U.S. Department of Transportation works with many other organizations to work toward the same goal.

These campaigns report that each year almost 500,000 young adults are “injured” (hurt) due to distracted driving. They also report that drivers are 23 times more likely to “crash” (get in an accident) if they are texting. Apparently one’s eyes are “off the road” (not looking at the road) for an average of five seconds while texting, and at freeway speeds, that is enough time for the car to travel the length of a large number of cars—certainly enough to crash.

Many states are paying attention to these campaigns and “enacting” (creating) laws that make it illegal for people to text or make phone calls without a “hands-free device” (the ability to speak on the phone without using one’s hands) while driving.

Comprehension Answers
1 - b

2 - b