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1055 Riding Scooters and Motorcycles

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Complete Transcript
Welcome to English as a Second Language Podcast number 1,055 – Riding Scooters and Motorcycles.

This is English as a Second Language Podcast episode 1,055. 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 know what to do – become a member and download the Learning Guide for this episode.

This episode is a dialogue about riding motorcycles and scooters. Let’s get started.

[start of dialogue]

Bernadette: When you offered to give me a ride to work, I didn’t know you rode a motorcycle. I’m not sure about this.

Pawel: Come on, put on this helmet and get on. You’ll get to work much faster. We can zip around cars and go between lanes.

Bernadette: That’s what I’m afraid of.

Pawel: I’m an experienced driver. I rode a moped when I was a teenager, had a scooter in college, and got my first bike when I was 22. I ride with my motorcycle club every weekend, so you don’t have to worry about safety.

Bernadette: I’m sure you’re a good driver, but one wrong move and I’m roadkill.

Pawel: Get on and I promise to behave. I won’t pop any wheelies, spin out, or do any other tricks.

Bernadette: If that was intended to put my mind at ease, it didn’t work.

Pawel: All right, last call. You want a ride to work or not?

Bernadette: Okay, I’m putting my life in your hands. If I die, it’ll be on your conscience.

Pawel: No worries. If we wipe out, it’ll take us both out, so I won’t be conscious to worry about my conscience. Hold on!

[end of dialogue]

Bernadette says to Pawel, “When you offered to give me a ride to work, I didn’t know you rode a motorcycle. I’m not sure about this.” Bernadette is saying that Pawel had offered to give her a ride to work – to transport her to work. Now, normally if someone offers to give you a ride, the person has a car, but Pawel doesn’t have a car – he has a motorcycle. A “motorcycle” is, you probably know, like a car, except it only has two wheels, like a bicycle. Bernadette says, “I’m not sure about this,” meaning she doesn’t know if she really wants to ride with Pawel on his motorcycle.

Pawel says, “Come on, put on this helmet and get on.” He’s saying to Bernadette, “Come and get on the bicycle.” Now in the U.S., in many states you have to wear a helmet if you ride a motorcycle. A “helmet” (helmet) is basically a thick, heavy hat that you wear over your head to protect it. Pawel says, “You’ll get to work much faster,” meaning you will get to work faster if you come on my motorcycle than if you, say, take a bus.

“We can zip around cars and go between lanes.” “To zip” (zip) means to move very quickly, especially to drive very quickly. Pawel also says that he can “go between lanes” (lanes). A “lane” is a space between two lines on the road. You could have a road that has two lanes: one going in one direction, one going in the other direction. Or you could have a freeway that has six, seven, or eight lanes. Some of the freeways here in Los Angeles are that big.

In California (and perhaps a few other states, I’m not sure), it’s legal for motorcycles to actually drive between two cars that are next to each other. It’s absolutely crazy in my opinion, but nobody asked me for my opinion. That’s the law. Motorcycles can go in between cars. In some states, probably in most states, this is illegal, but not here in California. Bernadette says, “That’s what I’m afraid of.” She’s scared about going in between cars, going between lanes, and zipping around cars.

Pawel says, “I’m an experienced driver,” meaning I’ve been doing this a long time. “I rode a moped when I was a teenager.” A “moped” (moped) is basically a motorized bicycle. It’s sort of like a motorcycle, but it’s smaller and it’s not as fast as a motorcycle. We also learn that Pawel had a scooter in college. A “scooter” (scooter) is a kind of motorcycle. The scooters usually have a, what’s called, “platform” where the driver’s feet can go. It’s sort of in between a moped and a motorcycle in terms of how heavy or powerful it is, how fast it goes.

Pawel says, “I got my first bike when I was 22.” Here the word “bike” refers not to a bicycle that you use your legs to power, but rather to mopeds, scooters, and motorcycles. Pawel says, “I ride with my motorcycle club every weekend, so you don’t have to worry about safety.” A “motorcycle” is the most powerful kind of two-wheeled vehicle, at least, that’s commonly used. We’ve talked about a moped and a scooter. The motorcycle would be sort of like the largest of those three bikes.

A “club” is an organization, a group of people who are typically interested in the same thing. Some people are members of motorcycle clubs. Pawel says, “You don’t have to worry about safety” (about me hurting you or hurting myself) because he practices, if you will, a lot with his motorcycle club. Bernadette is not completely convinced.

She says, “I’m sure you’re a good driver, but one wrong move and I’m roadkill.” “Road (road)kill” refers to an animal that has been hit by a car or a truck, usually on a freeway or street where cars and trucks are moving very fast. Roadkill happens, unfortunately. Sometimes animals come out into the lanes of traffic, onto the road, and sometimes they get hit and killed. Bernadette is saying that if Pawel’s motorcycle has an accident, she would be just like roadkill – she would die and her body would be there on the road.

Pawel says, “Get on and I promise to behave.” “Get on” means get onto the motorcycle. Pawel says he promises “to behave” (behave). “To behave” is to act nicely – not to do anything crazy or dangerous. He says, “I won’t pop any wheelies, spin out, or do any other tricks.” Pawel mentions a couple of dangerous things that you could do on a motorcycle. One of them is “to pop (pop) a wheelie (wheelie).” “To pop a wheelie” is to perform a trick where you are only riding on the back tire. The front tire, the front wheel, is up in the air so you’re basically on only one wheel. That’s “to pop a wheelie.”

We used to do that with our bicycles when we were kids. We would try to pop a wheelie. Of course, you often end up falling off of your bike and hurting yourself, which is why Pawel is saying he will not do that, because that would be dangerous. He also promises not to “spin (spin) out.” “To spin out” is a phrasal verb that is used to describe what happens if your car or motorcycle suddenly starts to move in an uncontrollable way, often in circles.

If you are, for example, driving down a street that has a lot of ice on it, and then you try to stop your car suddenly, your car could spin out. You could spin in a circle on top of the ice. This is quite frequent. I remember growing up in Minnesota, and when I learned to drive, having this happen to me once or twice, so it can be a common occurrence – but it is a very dangerous thing because, of course, you could hit someone else, as well as hurt yourself.

Bernadette says, “If that was intended to put my mind at ease, it didn’t work.” Bernadette is saying that Pawel’s promise doesn’t really help convince her. It doesn’t put her mind at ease. “To put someone’s mind at ease” (ease) means to calm someone, to make someone feel relaxed and not worried. Bernadette says that Pawel’s promises not to pop a wheelie and spin out do not put her mind at ease. She’s not relaxed.

Pawel says, “All right, last call.” “Last call” is sort of your last opportunity to do something. If you go to a bar at the end of the night just before the bar is going to close, usually ten or fifteen minutes before the bar will close, the bartender – the person working serving the drinks at the bar – will say, “Last call,” meaning this is your last opportunity to get, in that case, a drink. This is Pawel’s last opportunity to convince Bernadette to get on his motorcycle.

He says, “You want a ride to work or not?” He’s saying to Bernadette, “If you want me to give you a ride to work, then you have to get on now. Otherwise, I’m going to leave.” Bernadette says, “Okay, I’m putting my life in your hands.” “To put your life in someone’s hands” means to do something so that another person is in charge of or in control of your safety and security. If you go on an airplane, you put your lives in the hands of the pilots and the airline company.

Bernadette says, “If I die, it will be on your conscience.” The expression “to be on someone’s conscience” (conscience) means that you will feel guilty in the future if something bad happens. Your “conscience” is your sense of right and wrong – your beliefs about what is right to do and what is wrong to do. If something is “on your conscience,” it’s bothering you. It’s something that you feel bad about, something you feel guilty about, perhaps.

Pawel says, “No worries,” meaning don’t worry. “If we wipe out, it’ll take us both out, so I won’t be conscious to worry about my conscience.” Pawel makes an odd little joke here at the end. He tells Bernadette, “If we wipe out, it’ll take us both out.” “To wipe (wipe) out” means to crash, especially if you are riding a bicycle, a motorcycle, or a skateboard. “To wipe out” means to fall down and often to hurt yourself. Pawel says that if he and Bernadette wipe out, that action will “take us both out.” “To take someone out” means to kill someone, to end someone’s life.

Pawel says if they have an accident, both of them will die, and in that case, Pawel won’t be “conscious” (conscious) to worry about his conscience. “To be conscious” means to be aware of something, especially aware of your surroundings – the things and people around you. If you’re not conscious, you don’t have to worry about your conscience, since you are sort of like asleep. You aren’t aware of your surroundings, and so you’re not thinking about the guilt you might feel, in this case, for killing your friend or your workmate.

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

[start of dialogue]

Bernadette: When you offered to give me a ride to work, I didn’t know you rode a motorcycle. I’m not sure about this.

Pawel: Come on, put on this helmet and get on. You’ll get to work much faster. We can zip around cars and go between lanes.

Bernadette: That’s what I’m afraid of.

Pawel: I’m an experienced driver. I rode a moped when I was a teenager, had a scooter in college, and got my first bike when I was 22. I ride with my motorcycle club every weekend, so you don’t have to worry about safety.

Bernadette: I’m sure you’re a good driver, but one wrong move and I’m roadkill.

Pawel: Get on and I promise to behave. I won’t pop any wheelies, spin out, or do any other tricks.

Bernadette: If that was intended to put my mind at ease, it didn’t work.

Pawel: All right, last call. You want a ride to work or not?

Bernadette: Okay, I’m putting my life in your hands. If I die, it’ll be on your conscience.

Pawel: No worries. If we wipe out, it’ll take us both out, so I won’t be conscious to worry about my conscience. Hold on!

[end of dialogue]

You don’t put your life in our hands, but in a way you put your English in the hands of our scriptwriter. Fortunately, she’s a very good one: 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 and Dr. Jeff McQuillan. Copyright 2014 by the Center for Educational Development.

Glossary
motorcycle – a motorized vehicle with two wheels

* The law states that motorcycles should use a lane just like cars do, and never drive on the side of the road where bicycles are ridden.

helmet – a thick, heavy hat that completely covers the top, sides, and back of the head and is intended to protect the person who is riding a motorcycle, bicycle, or similar device

* When Jessina fell off the bike, her helmet cracked, but fortunately, she wasn’t injured.

to zip – to move very quickly, especially to drive very quickly

* The professional skiers zipped around the trees and down the mountain very quickly.

lane – the space between two parallel lines on a road, filled with one line of cars

* Slower cars should stay in the right lane, and faster cars should use the left lane to pass.

moped – a motorized bicycle, somewhat like a motorcycle, but smaller and not as fast

* Have you ever considered using a moped to commute to and from work?

scooter – a motorcycle that has a platform for the driver’s feet and is faster than a moped, but not as heavy or powerful as a motorcycle

* It’s legal to drive a scooter on city streets, but not on a freeway.

motorcycle club – an organization and the members who spend time riding motorcycles together and learning about and discussing owning motorcycles

* A surprising number of doctors, dentists, and lawyers belong to the motorcycle cub and spend their weekends racing up and down country roads.

road kill – the body of an animal that has been hit and/or run over by a car and is left dead on the road

* Careful! If you don’t slow down, you’ll leave behind lots of road kill.

to pop a wheelie – to perform a trick by lifting the front wheel of a bicycle or motorcycle into the air while continuing to move forward

* The teenage boys are learning how to pop a wheelie by practicing on the playground in front of the school.

to spin out – to lose control of a vehicle or motorcycle, moving quickly in a circle, often because the surface of the road is wet or slippery

* Watch out! Those leaves are slippery and icy, and you might spin out if you don’t slow down.

to put (one’s) mind at ease – to calm someone; to make someone feel relaxed and able to stop worrying; to address one’s fears or concerns

* Please call at least once a day to let me know you’re okay while you’re traveling. That would really put my mind at ease.

last call – the last opportunity to have or do something

* The bartender made one last call for drinks and then started cleaning up to close the bar.

to put (one’s) life in (one’s) hands – to do something so that one’s safety and security is in the control of another person; to trust another person with one’s life

* Rock climbers must learn to trust each other, because they often have to put their life in each other’s hands.

to be on (one’s) conscience – to have an awareness of one’s actions being right or wrong, good or bad; to feel guilty or not guilty about one’s words or actions

* If the company continues to sell defective products, it will be on your conscience if and when someone dies.

to wipe out – to crash, especially while riding a bicycle, motorcycle, or skateboard

* Please wear elbow and knee pads so you won’t get hurt if you wipe out.

to take (someone) out – to kill someone; to end someone’s life

* Someday there will be a huge earthquake that will take us all out.

conscious – aware of something, especially aware of one’s surroundings

* Was the patient conscious at the scene of the accident?

Comprehension Questions
1. What does Pawel mean when he says, “I won’t pop any wheelies”?
a) He won’t break any laws.
b) He won’t go faster than the speed limit.
c) He won’t perform fancy tricks.

2. What does Pawel mean when he says, “I won’t be conscious to worry about my conscience”?
a) He doesn’t care about what happens to Bernadette.
b) He won’t be held financially responsible for any medical bills.
c) He won’t be aware of his surroundings or of what has happened.

Answers at bottom.

What Else Does It Mean?
lane

The word “lane,” in this podcast, means the space between two parallel lines on a road, filled with one line of cars: “Lanes on the freeway are separated with lines of white and yellow paint.” A “lane” is also a quiet country road with little traffic: “They live next to the big red barn at the end of the lane.” The phrase “to take a trip down memory lane” means to spend time thinking about what happened in the past: “Wow, looking at these old photos is like taking a trip down memory lane.” Finally, the phrase “the fast lane” refers to an exciting life, especially with many expensive things: “He dreams of becoming a currency trader and living life in the fast lane.”

to wipe out

In this podcast, the phrase “to wipe out” means to crash, especially while riding a bicycle, motorcycle, or skateboard: “Adam wiped out, and the next thing he remembered was waking up in the hospital.” The phrase “to wipe out” also means to make someone very tired: “That hike wiped us out!” The phrase “to wipe the slate clean” means to forget about things that have happened in the past and try to start again: “I’m sorry about what I said. Can we wipe the slate clean and start over?” Finally, the phrase “to wipe (someone or something) off the earth” means to destroy someone or something: “In this video game, your mission is to wipe the enemy off the earth.”

Culture Note
Motorcyclists’ Colors

The members of motorcycle clubs wear “distinct” (different from others) clothing and “insignia” (badges, signs, and symbols that present information) to show their membership and “differentiate themselves from” (show their difference from) other riders on the road. Motorcyclists who talk about their “colors” are referring to the “patches” (designs made from thread on a piece of fabric that is then sewn or glued onto a piece of clothing) that identify their motorcycle club and its location. For example, all members of a particular motorcycle club might have the same main color, but another part above or below the main piece might state the location of the local club. Some colors provide additional information about the individual member, such as that member’s “rank” (importance and power within a group) and “tenure” (how long a person has been a member of a group).

Most often, colors are worn on the motorcyclist’s back, especially in the center “rear” (back) of a “leather” (made from the skin of an animal) “vest” (a shirt without sleeves that is open in the front or that closes in the front with a zipper or buttons) or jacket. Smaller “elements” (pieces) of the colors are also often worn on the “lapel” (the piece of fabric that folds back in the front of a shirt or vest) or over the chest.

Many motorcycle clubs have “strict” (enforced without exceptions) rules about who can wear the colors, when, and where, because the colors “serve as” (are used for) an important “means” (way of doing something) of identification for the individual and for the club.

Comprehension Answers
1 - c

2 - c