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0914 Wanting Peace and Quiet

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Complete Transcript
Welcome to English as a Second Language Podcast number 914 – Wanting Peace and Quiet.

This is English as a Second Language Podcast episode 914. 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 and become a member of ESL Podcast to download a Learning Guide.

This episode is a dialogue between Carl and someone working at a hotel. Let's get started.

[start of dialog]

After three days of travel and meetings, I returned to my hotel room ready for some downtime. All I wanted was some peace and quiet so I could get a good night’s sleep.

...

[phone rings] Carl: Hello.

Hotel staff: Hello, Mr. Mendez. I’m calling to welcome you to our hotel. I hope you’re finding everything to your satisfaction.

Carl: Yes, yes. Everything’s fine. I just want to get some rest right now.

Hotel staff: Of course, Mr. Mendez. If there’s anything we can do for you, don’t hesitate to ask.

...

I hung up the phone and turned off the ringer. I didn’t want any more unsolicited phone calls. But then, there was a knock on the door.

...

Hotel staff: Hello, sir. I’m here to turn down your bed. May I come in?

Carl: I don’t need the bed turned down, thanks.

...

Before I closed the door, I put the do-not-disturb sign on my door. I wanted no more interruptions.

All of a sudden, a loud alarm went off. I opened my door and a hotel employee was explaining that there was a small fire in the kitchen and that the guests were being evacuated. We would have to leave the building immediately.

I left my hotel room and wondered if there was a vast conspiracy to rob me of my sleep or if I’m just the unluckiest guy in the world!

[end of dialog]

We begin with Carl saying, “After three days of travel and meetings” – that is, after three days of traveling and meeting with other people – “I returned to my hotel room ready for some downtime.” “Downtime” is where you are able to relax, where you don't have anything scheduled. Carl says, “All I wanted was some peace and quiet so I could get a good night’s sleep.” The expression “peace (peace) and quiet (quiet)” means a period of time when you don't hear any loud noises. You don't hear other people. You have silence. That's what peace and quiet is. We often use this expression, “peace and quiet,” when we’re talking about there being noise from your neighbors, or in this case, at a hotel. You want some peace and quiet. You want people to be quiet so that there is less noise and you can relax.

Carl wants to get a “good night’s sleep.” A “good night’s sleep” is a night where you sleep well, where you're not interrupted by noise in the middle of the night while you're sleeping. Carl then gets a phone call. Carl says, “Hello” and someone from the hotel staff, someone who works at the hotel, says, “Hello Mr. Mendez, I'm calling to welcome you to our hotel. I hope you're finding everything to your satisfaction.” The hotel staff member is calling Carl to make sure everything is “to his satisfaction.” The expression “to your satisfaction” means that it is doing what you expected it to do, that it is meeting your requirements, that it is meeting your needs.

Carl says, “Yes, yes. Everything is fine. I just want to get some rest now.” The hotel staff member says, “Of course, Mr. Mendez. If there's anything we can do for you, don't hesitate to ask.” “To hesitate” means to not do something, to stop something that you want to do. We use the expression “Don't” – do not – “hesitate” to do something when we want to make sure the other person feels as though they can ask you or do whatever you are telling them they can do without any worries, without any problems.

Then Carl says that he “hung up” the phone, he put the phone down, and turned off the “ringer.” The “ringer” is what makes noise inside of a telephone. Back in the old days, there used to be an actual bell in the telephone. If you are old enough, you can remember those kinds of phones. Now it's all electronic. “To turn off the ringer” would be to turn off the sound so that when the phone rings, when someone calls you, it doesn't actually make a noise. It doesn't actually ring. “To ring” is to make a noise, usually with a small bell…or big bell.

Carl says, “I didn't want any more unsolicited phone calls.” “Unsolicited” mean not solicited. “To solicit” means, in general, to ask for something. “Unsolicited” would be things that you didn't ask for. Carl doesn't want any unsolicited phone calls, but then he says, “There was a knock on the door.” A “knock” (knock) is the noise that's made when you hit your hand against some object, usually a piece of wood. So, “knocking on a door” would sound something like [knocks on wood] – something like that.

Then Carl gets up out of bed, I guess, and opens the door. The hotel staff member says, “Hello, sir. I'm here to turn down your bed.” “To turn down your bed” is what some more expensive hotels do. They come in and they pull the blankets and the sheets back so that you are able to go and use the bed without any problems. It's often done in order to make sure that the blanket and the sheets are warm for you when you are ready to actually go to bed. This is something that is done, as I say, at more expensive hotels, not the ones that I stay at.

Carl says, “I don't need the bed turned down. Thanks.” He says, “Then, before I closed the door, I put the do-not-disturb sign my door.” “To disturb” (disturb) means to bother someone, to interrupt them. “Do not disturb” means do not bother me. Do not interrupt me. A “do-not-disturb” sign is a little, usually piece of plastic, that you put on the door handle of your hotel door telling the people who work for the hotel that you don't want them to knock on the door. You don't want them to disturb you. This is a good idea if you want to sleep and you don't want the hotel staff to wake you up early in the morning or as we see here, to bother you late at night.

Carl says, “I wanted no more interruptions.” An interruption is when someone or something stops you from doing what you're doing. “Interruptions” often cause us to lose our focus. We can't focus on what we're doing. We can't concentrate on what we're doing. Carl says, “All of a sudden” – suddenly – “a loud alarm went off.” An “alarm” (alarm) is a very loud noise. “To go off” is a two-word phrasal verb that, in this case, means “to sound.” When the alarm begins to make a noise, we would say it “goes off.” “Go off” as a phrasal verb can be used in a couple of different ways. You can “go off onsomeone.” That would mean yell at someone, make a lot of noise by yelling and screaming at someone with whom you're angry. “To go off” can also mean to leave. “I'm going to go off and be by myself.”

Carl says that he opened his door after the alarm went off, and a hotel employee – someone who works for the hotel – was explaining that there was a small fire in the kitchen, and that the guests – the people staying at the hotel – “were being evacuated.” “To be evacuated” (evacuated) means to be told that you have to leave the place where you are, usually because there's something dangerous that might happen to you.

For example, if there is a flood near your home, where a river has too much water and so the water starts to go on the other parts of the land, you might be asked to evacuate, to leave your house, because it's dangerous if you stay there. Carl says, “We would have to leave the building immediately.” That's what he was told by the hotel employee. He said he left his hotel room and wondered if there was a “vast conspiracy to rob” him of his sleep. “Vast” (vast) means very large or extensive. “Conspiracy” (conspiracy) is a secret plan that two or more people have to do something bad, to do something wrong, usually against the law. A “vast conspiracy to rob” him would be a conspiracy to take something away from him. “To rob (rob) someone” means to steal something from someone.

Carl is making a joke here. He doesn't really believe there is a vast conspiracy to rob him of his sleep. He doesn't believe that all of the employees at the hotel are secretly trying to keep him from sleeping. He says he wonders if there was a vast conspiracy to rob him of his sleep, or if he's just the “unluckiest guy in the world.” “To be unlucky” means to have bad luck, to have bad things happen to you, and that certainly is the case with poor Carl.

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

[start of dialog]

After three days of travel and meetings, I returned to my hotel room ready for some downtime. All I wanted was some peace and quiet so I could get a good night’s sleep.

...

[phone rings] Carl: Hello.

Hotel staff: Hello, Mr. Mendez. I’m calling to welcome you to our hotel. I hope you’re finding everything to your satisfaction.

Carl: Yes, yes. Everything’s fine. I just want to get some rest right now.

Hotel staff: Of course, Mr. Mendez. If there’s anything we can do for you, don’t hesitate to ask.

...

I hung up the phone and turned off the ringer. I didn’t want any more unsolicited phone calls. But then, there was a knock on the door.

...

Hotel staff: Hello, sir. I’m here to turn down your bed. May I come in?

Carl: I don’t need the bed turned down, thanks.

...

Before I closed the door, I put the do-not-disturb sign on my door. I wanted no more interruptions.

All of a sudden, a loud alarm went off. I opened my door and a hotel employee was explaining that there was a small fire in the kitchen and that the guests were being evacuated. We would have to leave the building immediately.

I left my hotel room and wondered if there was a vast conspiracy to rob me of my sleep or if I’m just the unluckiest guy in the world!

[end of dialog]

We hope our wonderful scripts are to your satisfaction. We thank Dr. Lucy Tse for them.

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

English as a Second Language Podcast was written and produced by Dr. Lucy Tse, hosted by Dr. Jeff McQuillan. Copyright 2013 by the Center for Educational Development.

Glossary
downtime – a period of time that is not scheduled, when one has time to do what one wants and relax

* Enjoy these next few months before your baby is born, because this is the only downtime you’ll have for years!

peace and quiet – calm silence; a period of time when one is not exposed to loud noises or other people

* The people in the apartment upstairs are so loud that we never get any peace and quiet.

good night’s sleep – a night of uninterrupted sleep, allowing one to feel well rested in the morning

* Drinking a glass of warm milk and listening to classical music at bedtime helps Mariah get a good night’s sleep.

to (one’s) satisfaction – meeting one’s needs and making one feel content

* The restaurant owner came to our table to ask whether the meal was to our satisfaction.

to turn off the ringer – to disconnect or deactivate the part of a phone that makes noise, so that even if people call, the phone is silent

* Before every performance, the theater manager reminds the audience members to turn off the ringer on their phones.

unsolicited – not asked for; not requested

* I know you haven’t asked for my help, but I’m going to offer some unsolicited advice anyway.

knock – the sound of one’s knuckles (the bony parts of on the back of the hand at the base of the fingers) hitting against a door to let others know that one wants to enter

* Did you hear a knock at the door, or was that just my imagination?

to turn down (one’s) bed – to pull back the blankets and prepare a bed for one to sleep in it

* We stayed in a great hotel where they turned down our bed and put a chocolate mint on the pillow each night.

do-not-disturb sign – a small piece of paper that hangs on the exterior door of a hotel room to inform hotel staff and others that they should not knock on the door or make noise, because the person inside wants to be left alone

* If you forget to take down the do-not-disturb sign before you leave for your meetings, the hotel’s housekeepers won’t clean your room or wash the towels during the day.

interruption – a distraction that intrudes on what one is doing, making one lose focus and stop

* Let’s find a place where we can talk without any interruptions.

alarm – a loud noise that warns or alerts people to a danger and demands some reaction

* When Elliot burned the lasagna, the whole family and all the neighbors heard the smoke alarm.

to go off – for an alarm to begin making a loud noise

* Why is your alarm going off at 6:00 a.m. on a Saturday morning?

to be evacuated – to be told to leave a place, usually to protect oneself from a fire, storm, or another type of danger

* How did the local government decide which neighborhoods needed to be evacuated due to flooding?

vast – very large, extensive, and far-reaching

* The vast wealth of large corporations is greater than the wealth of some countries.


conspiracy – a secret plan by many people to do something that is harmful and against the law

* The CEO believes some of his employees are engaged in a conspiracy to sell company secrets to competitors.

to rob (someone) of (something) – to take something from someone without permission; to steal from someone

* No matter what you do or say, you cannot rob people of their memories.

Comprehension Questions
1. What did Carl do when he turned off the ringer?
a) He made it so the phone wouldn’t make any noise.
b) He unplugged the phone from the wall.
c) He asked the hotel staff not to call again.

2. What did the hotel staff member want to do to Carl’s bed?
a) Provide a softer, lower mattress.
b) Change the sheets and provide a warmer blanket.
c) Prepare the bed so it would be ready for him to sleep in.

Answers at bottom.

What Else Does It Mean?
knock

The word “knock,” in this podcast, means the sound of one’s knuckles (the bony parts of on the back of the hand at the base of the fingers) hitting against a door to let others know that one wants to enter: “On Halloween night, there was a knock at the door and then the sound of children saying, ‘Trick or Treat.’” The verb “to knock” means to produce that noise: “The doorbell doesn’t work, so you’ll have to knock.” A “knock” can also be what happens when something hits one’s body: “Pasindu suffered a bad knock to the head, but he’ll recover.” Finally, the phrase “school of hard knocks” describes how people learn from bad experiences in life: “Getting in a car accident, getting fired, and getting divorced are all just parts of the school of hard knocks.”

to rob (someone) of (something)

In this podcast, the phrase “to rob (someone) of (something)” means to take something from someone without permission, or to steal from someone: “Watching his father die from lung cancer robbed Derrick of any desire to smoke a cigarette.” The phrase “to rob Peter to pay Paul” describes taking money from something in order to pay for something else when both things are necessary or important and money is limited: “When the state government transferred funds from public education to public health care, it was robbing Peter to pay Paul.” The phrase “to rob the cradle” means to have a romantic relationship with a much younger person: “Wow, Jacques is really robbing the cradle. His girlfriend must be at least 20 years younger than he is.” Finally, the phrase “to rob (someone) blind” means to take everything from another person: “Their accountant robbed them blind while they were vacationing!”

Culture Note
Unusual Hotels

Some travelers like to stay in luxury (refined, sophisticated, elegant, and expensive) hotels, but others are looking for a “memorable” (easy to remember; hard to forget) experience. The United States has many “unusual” (not common; rare) hotels to meet their needs. Here are a few that were described in an article called “The Most Unusual Hotels in America” in Forbes Magazine in February 2010.
The Dog Bark Park Inn in Cottonwood, Idaho lets “guests” (the people who sleep in a hotel) sleep inside a large, 35-foot-tall wooden dog. The toilet is made to look like a “fire hydrant” (a metal device that sits on a sidewalk and provides water so firefighters can put out fires, also where many dogs want to urinate or pee).

The Jules Undersea Lodge in Key Largo, Florida lets guests sleep underwater. They have to “scuba dive” (swim deep underwater with oxygen tanks) to reach their rooms, which have windows that give guests a “glimpse” (look) at what lies under the ocean’s surface.

At the Liberty Hotel in Boston, Massachusetts, guests stay in the “former” (previously) Charles Street “Jail” (prison, where people are sent as punishment for breaking the law).

Other unusual hotels let guests sleep in “tree houses” (structures built above the ground in trees, usually for children to play in), in “lighthouses” (tall buildings on the coast with lights on top to warn boats when they come close to land), and surrounded by large, “wild cats” (tigers, lions, cougars, and similar felines). There is truly “something for everyone” (no matter what one is looking for, it already exists).

Comprehension Answers
1 - a

2 - c