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1019 Losing a Passport While Traveling

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Complete Transcript
Welcome to English as a Second Language Podcast number 1,019 – Losing a Passport While Traveling.

This is English as a Second Language Podcast episode 1,019. I’m your host, Dr. Jeff McQuillan, coming to you from the Center for Educational Development in beautiful Los Angeles, California.

Visit our website at ESLPod.com. You can download a Learning Guide for this episode, as well as take a look at some of our special courses. All of our courses and Learning Guides can be downloaded immediately right to your computer.

On this episode, we’re going to listen to a dialogue between Nina and Serge about losing your passport while you are traveling. Let’s get started.

[start of dialogue]

Nina: Oh, my God! I can’t find my passport. I never should have put it in my purse. I’m sure a pickpocket took it.

Serge: Calm down. Maybe you just misplaced it. Let’s turn out all of your pockets and search for it before we panic.

Nina: I know it’s gone. I know it! Flag down the police. We have to file a police report.

Serge: If your passport has been stolen, we need to find the U.S. embassy.

Nina: We’re supposed to continue on to the next country on our tour tomorrow. We’re going to get left behind!

Serge: Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. If we need to find a U.S. embassy and apply for a temporary passport, we’ll do that.

Nina: It’s Saturday! We won’t get any help at the embassy until Monday. We’ll be stuck here.

Serge: It’ll take as long as it takes. Now, let’s search through all of your belongings before we do anything else.

Nina: I just thought of something.

Serge: What?

Nina: I think I may have left it in the hotel room.

Serge: You think you may have left it in the hotel room.

Nina: Isn’t that good news? All that worry for nothing.

Serge: Let’s not count our chickens. You might have another inspiration.

[end of dialogue]

Our dialogue begins with Nina saying to Serge, “Oh, my God! I can’t find my passport.” Your “passport” (passport) is your official identifying document that is given to you by the country in which you are a citizen. Typically, you have to be a citizen or an official member of the country in order to get a passport. Sometimes, in some countries, you can have more than one passport if you are a citizen of more than one country.

Nina says that she can’t find her passport. She says, “I never should have put it in my purse.” She’s regretting putting it in her purse. She’s saying, “I wish I had not done that.” She continues, “I’m sure a pickpocket took it.” A “pickpocket” (pickpocket) is a person who steals your money or your wallet from either your pants or shirt or a bag that you are carrying. Pickpockets are common in almost every city in the world, certainly cities that have a lot of tourists. These are thieves that are able to take things from people.

Sometimes they’re very good. They’re very sophisticated in what they do. You don’t even realize that they have stolen something from you. The reason we call them “pickpockets” is because a “pocket” is a pouch or a internal bag, if you will, inside of either a shirt or your pants where you keep things, where you hold things. “To pick” here means to take, to take out of, or really, to steal. Interestingly, we also use that same verb “to pick” when we are talking about someone who opens a lock without the key, something a thief would also do.

Serge says, “Calm down. Maybe you just misplaced it.” “To misplace” something is to accidentally put something somewhere without realizing or remembering where you put it. This happens to me all the time. Maybe I’m just getting old. Serge says, “Let’s turn out all of your pockets and search for it before we panic.” “To turn out your pockets” means to take the pocket, the material of which the pocket is made, and pull it out of your pants – to basically turn it inside out, to take the inner part and bring it to the exterior. That’s “to turn out,” in this case, “your pockets.”

My mother used to tell me before I gave her my dirty clothes to wash to turn out the pockets. In other words, take my hand and put it inside of the pocket and pull it out. She, of course, didn’t want any paper or coins in there when she put it into the clothes washer. And you can imagine, with a family of 13, we had a lot of clothes to wash.

Anyway, Serge doesn’t want to panic. “To panic” (panic) means to get very worried and perhaps fearful about something. Usually this happens quite suddenly, and it causes you often not to think very clearly or very logically. Nina says, “I know it’s gone. I know it! Flag down the police,” she says. “To flag down” someone is to get someone’s attention, usually by raising your arm and moving it back and forth, moving your hand back and forth, so that you get the attention of someone. We usually use this two-word phrasal verb when talking about getting the attention of a police officer or perhaps a taxi driver.

Serge is trying to help Nina, but Nina thinks that she has definitely lost her passport and wants him to get the police. She says, “We have to file a police report.” “To file (file) a police report” is to officially report a crime, to go to the police and say, “Someone has committed a crime” – someone has done something wrong and I want you to know about it. The police then usually take your information, writing it down on a piece of paper or putting it into their computers, and then when you leave, they go back and have coffee and donuts and forget all about you. No, I’m kidding, of course, mostly.

Serge says, “If your passport has been stolen, we need to find the U.S. Embassy.” We’re assuming of course that Nina and Serge are in another country. That’s usually the only time you would take your passport with you. An “embassy” (embassy) is the official building where the official representative from a country, called the “ambassador,” would work. According to international law, embassies are really property of the country which they represent, although that doesn’t always work out so well.

If you are traveling in another country and you lose your passport, you do in fact have to go to an embassy. Sometimes, if it’s a big country, the embassy will have smaller offices in different parts of that country. These are called “consulates.” Nina says, “We’re supposed to continue on to the next country on our tour tomorrow.” So, Serge and Nina are traveling on a tour, and they’re supposed to leave the country they are in now tomorrow. “We’re going to get left behind,” Nina says. “To be left behind” means to be unable to go with the rest of the group as it advances or progresses or moves forward, in this case, as it goes to another country.

“To leave behind” is it common phrasal verb. There was a law a few years ago called “No Child Left Behind.” The idea was that you wouldn’t want to leave schoolchildren, some schoolchildren, behind others in terms of their academic achievement, and this was a program that was supposed to help American students. I’m not sure if it did, but that was the idea. They spent a lot of money on it, though. I can I can tell you that.

Anyway, Serge says, “Let’s not get ahead of ourselves.” “To get ahead of yourself” is to do something sooner than you should or sooner than you need to do it. Often we use this expression when someone is worrying about something that might happen in the future even though it’s too soon, really, to think about that particular event. Nina is already worrying about being left behind on their tour even before they’ve had a chance to look properly for the passport. That’s why Serge says, “Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. If we need to find a U.S. embassy and apply for a temporary passport, we’ll do that.” “Temporary” means for a short time – not permanent.

Nina says, “It’s Saturday. We won’t get any help at the embassy until Monday. We’ll be stuck here.” “To be stuck” (stuck) somewhere is to be unable to move – not to be able to leave a place. Sometimes we use this expression when we are having difficulty with some task, and we can’t seem to move forward or to progress on it. “I’m stuck on this math problem” – I need to find the answer before I can go on to the next problem.

Serge says, “It takes as long as it takes.” This is a common expression nowadays also. “It takes as long as it takes” is a phrase that we use when you don’t really know how long something is going to take, but you just have to accept it. There’s nothing you can do about it. A variation on this expression is, “It is what it is,” which means “This is the situation.” You can’t change it. That’s just the way it’s going to be, so we’re going to have to accept it and do what we can under these perhaps difficult circumstances.

Serge says, “Let’s search through all of your belongings before we do anything else.” Serge once again is trying to get Nina to look again for her passport in her belongings. Your “belongings” (belongings) – always plural – are your possessions, things that you own: your suitcase, your clothing, your purse, and so forth. Nina says, “I just thought of something.” Serge says, “What?” “I think I may have left it in the hotel room,” Nina says. Serge says, “You think you may have left it in the hotel room.” He’s, I don’t know, relieved or upset.

Nina says, “Isn’t that good news? All that worrying for nothing.” The expression “for nothing” means for no purpose, without any good reason. Serge says, “Let’s not count our chickens.” “To count your chickens” is actually a shortened form of a longer expression, which is “to count your chickens before they’re hatched (hatched).”

When a chicken lays an egg – when the egg comes out of her body – the chicken inside of the egg (the embryo) will develop, and when it’s ready to come out of the egg, it will break out of the shell. We call that process “hatching,” when the chicken is now outside of the eggshell and able to walk around and do whatever chickens do. The expression means that you shouldn’t depend on something before it actually happens. You shouldn’t count on something. “To count on” something means to rely on it, to depend on it.

The expression, however, is using another version of, or another meaning of, the verb “to count,” which means actually to put a number on something: one, two, three, four, five, six – that’s to count. You don’t want to count your chickens before they’re hatched because you don’t know if some of the eggs will actually hatch, and therefore you shouldn’t say, “Oh, yeah, I have 10 chickens” until all 10 eggs have hatched and you can actually count the live chickens. That’s the idea.

Serge finally says, “You might have another inspiration.” An “inspiration” is an idea – usually a new idea, a creative idea, about something. Nina’s inspiration is that she left the passport in her hotel room, but Serge isn’t so sure, so confident, and that’s why he says, “Let’s not count our chickens.” Let’s not think that the problem has been solved before we actually solve it.

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

[start of dialogue]

Nina: Oh, my God! I can’t find my passport. I never should have put it in my purse. I’m sure a pickpocket took it.

Serge: Calm down. Maybe you just misplaced it. Let’s turn out all of your pockets and search for it before we panic.

Nina: I know it’s gone. I know it! Flag down the police. We have to file a police report.

Serge: If your passport has been stolen, we need to find the U.S. embassy.

Nina: We’re supposed to continue on to the next country on our tour tomorrow. We’re going to get left behind!

Serge: Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. If we need to find a U.S. embassy and apply for a temporary passport, we’ll do that.

Nina: It’s Saturday! We won’t get any help at the embassy until Monday. We’ll be stuck here.

Serge: It’ll take as long as it takes. Now, let’s search through all of your belongings before we do anything else.

Nina: I just thought of something.

Serge: What?

Nina: I think I may have left it in the hotel room.

Serge: You think you may have left it in the hotel room.

Nina: Isn’t that good news? All that worry for nothing.

Serge: Let’s not count our chickens. You might have another inspiration.

[end of dialogue]

Our scriptwriter has many wonderful inspirations for scripts, including this one. Thank you, Dr. Lucy Tse.

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 2014 by the Center for Educational Development.

Glossary
passport – an official identifying document issued by the national government, usually a small book, that allows one to travel to and from other countries

* Jan’s passport is covered in visas and stamps from countries all over the world.

pickpocket – a person who steals money and other valuables from other people’s pockets or bags without being noticed

* There are a lot of pickpockets on the subway, so be sure to keep your wallet in an inside pocket where nobody can reach it.

to misplace – to accidentally put something somewhere without realizing what one has done; to accidentally put something in a spot other than where it would normally be kept

* Hanna misplaced her car keys, so she wasn’t able to drive anywhere all day.

to turn out – to turn something inside out; to take the inner part of something and bring it to the exterior

* In comic strips, a person whose pockets have been turned out represents someone who doesn’t have any money.

to panic – to experience a sudden feeling of intense worry and/or fear, when one is not able to think clearly and does not know what to do

* Is it normal for a man to panic this much right before his wedding?

to flag down – to get someone’s attention by waving one’s arm in the air, especially to get the attention of a waiter, police officer, or taxi driver

* The service in that restaurant was terrible! We had to flag down our waiter to order, and then again to ask for water.

to file a police report – to officially provide information about a crime to a police officer, usually with the expectation that the police will conduct an investigation

* The insurance company won’t reimburse us for the stolen computer unless we file a police report and send them a copy of it.

embassy – the building where an ambassador works as an official representative of his or her own government within another country

* The embassy should have information about getting a student visa for a study-abroad program.

to be left behind – to not be able to go with the rest of the group as it advances or progresses, usually because one was not fast enough or good enough

* Tyrone is learning to read very quickly, and most of his classmates are being left behind.

to get ahead of (oneself) – to do something sooner than one should do it or needs to do it, especially to worry about or prepare for some future event that may or may not happen

* Don’t get ahead of yourself and buy a new car before you find out whether you got the job.

temporary – not permanent; lasting for only a short period of time

* Living in a hotel isn’t ideal, but the arrangement is only temporary until the contractor can finish fixing the roof on our house.

stuck – not able to move; not able to leave a place; without any options or alternatives

* The elevator was stuck between floors for hours.

to take as long as it takes – a phrase used when one does not know how much time will be required for something to happen, but one has accepted the uncertainty and is trying to not worry about it

* Childbirth will take as long as it takes. You can’t rush it.

belongings – possessions; all the things that one owns; the objects that one has

* Five years ago, all our belongings fit in a small car, but now we have a house full of furniture, so moving will be much more difficult this time.

for nothing – without any purpose, reason, or meaning; without any result or importance

* I can’t believe we bought those flashlights, bottled water, and canned food for nothing. The storm didn’t even come close to our house!

to count (one’s) chickens – a short version of a longer phrase, “to count one’s chickens before they hatch,” meaning to assume that something will happen in the future, even if that thing might not actually happen

* Karina is counting her chickens and already has a plan for spending her next raise. So she’ll be very disappointed if she doesn’t actually get the raise.

inspiration – motivation, stimulation, and excitement about something, especially a new idea

* What was your inspiration for writing your newest novel?

Comprehension Questions
1. What does Nina mean when she says, “Flag down the police”?
a) She wants Serge to call the police.
b) She wants Serge to get a police officer’s attention.
c) She wants to go to the nearest police station.

2. What does Serge mean when he says, “Let’s not count our chickens”?
a) He doesn’t want them to be cowards.
b) He thinks money shouldn’t be a concern.
c) He wants to wait and see what happens before agreeing with Nina.

Answers at bottom.

What Else Does It Mean?
to flag down

The phrase “to flag down,” in this podcast, means to get someone’s attention by waving one’s arm in the air, especially to get the attention of a waiter, police officer, or taxi driver: “Quick! Flag down the mail carrier and see if we can add this to the outgoing mail before he drives off.” As a verb, “to flag” can mean to mark something as being more important, especially to put a colored piece of sticky paper in the margin: “Heather used a highlighter to flag the important facts in her history textbook.” Or, “Our realtor flagged all the places where we need to sign the contract.” Finally, the verb “to flag” means to become very tired and weak, without any more energy: “We were all flagging by the end of the nine-mile hike.”

left behind

In this podcast, the phrase “to be left behind” means to not be able to go with the rest of the group as it advances or progresses, usually because one was not fast enough or good enough: “In terms of technological advances, aren’t you worried that you’ll be left behind if you don’t get a smart phone like everyone else?” When talking about payments or schedules, the phrase “to fall behind” means to not be doing things when one is supposed to do them: “When Ingrid lost her job, she fell behind on her mortgage payments.” Or, “Why did the bridge construction project fall behind schedule?” Finally, the phrase “behind (someone’s) back” means secretly, without someone’s knowledge: “Why would you say such a mean thing behind his back?”

Culture Note
The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program

The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) is a program of the “U.S. Department of State” (the part of the U.S. government responsible for international affairs and travel, including passports). The program allows travelers to “register” (sign up for; provide information as a participant in) with information about their travel “itinerary” (plans for where one will be and what one will do, and when). Then the Department of State automatically sends “travel advisories” (information about what is happening in a country or area, especially related to safety and security).

The Department of State also uses STEP information when “natural disasters” (major earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, etc.) occur. Government officials can “consult” (refer to) the STEP database to identify which U.S. citizens are in a particular area and, if necessary, provide support to them and/or help them “evacuate” (leave an area in an emergency). For example, after the recent earthquake in Haiti, the STEP program helped the Department of State evacuate more than 16,000 U.S. citizens. The information in the STEP database also helps the Department of State put U.S. citizens “overseas” (in other countries) “in touch with” (in communication with) their “loved ones” (family members) when disasters make communication difficult or impossible.

The STEP program is not only for travelers, but also for U.S. citizens who are living abroad “indefinitely” (without a defined end). It gives them a simple way to automatically receive information from the nearest embassy, as well as information about voting and taxes while they are living overseas.

Comprehension Answers
1 - b

2 - c