Daily English
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1182 Finding a Parking Space

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Complete Transcript
Welcome to English as a Second Language Podcast number 1,182 – Finding a Parking Space.

This is English as a Second Language Podcast episode 1,182. I’m your host, Dr. Jeff McQuillan, coming to you from the Center for Educational Development in beautiful Los Angeles, California.

Visit ESLPod.com to become a member of ESL Podcast. You can also find us on Facebook. Go to facebook.com/eslpod.

On this episode, we’re going to hear a dialogue about trying to find a place to park your car. Let’s get started.

[start of dialogue]

Alan: We have to find a parking space. Let’s drive around the block one more time. Did you say that the restaurant we’re going to has no off-street parking at all?

Sasha: None. When I called the restaurant earlier today, I was told they have ample street parking.

Alan: Obviously not on a Saturday night. Look, there’s a space!

Sasha: No, look at the curb. That’s a loading zone and the area in front of it is a red zone.

Alan: This is impossible. We’ve driven along this street four times and there are no parking spaces, not even ones with meters. I’d be willing to plug the meter all evening if we could just find a space.

Sasha: I have an idea. Pull into that red zone.

Alan: Okay, but we can’t park here. What’s that?

Sasha: This is my grandfather’s handicapped placard. I borrowed it. We can park here with this.

Alan: I don’t think so. We’re going to get a parking ticket or worse, and we really shouldn’t be using your grandfather’s placard anyway.

Sasha: Do you know how many strings I had to pull to get a reservation at the hottest restaurant in town? Come on, let’s go. Why are you checking your wallet? Dinner is my treat.

Alan: I just want to make sure I have enough cash for a taxi when your car gets towed!

[end of dialogue]

Our dialogue begins with Alan saying to Sasha, “We have to find a parking space. ” A “parking space” is a small area, a place in which you can park your car. If you drive down the street, usually there are spaces along the street where you can park a car. Alan is looking for a parking space. He suggests to Sasha that they “drive around the block one more time.”

A “block” (block) here refers to a square or rectangle of land that is surrounded by four streets. So, in a typical city, some of the streets go north to south, others go east to west, and you can find “blocks” that are in between the streets. The blocks are where the houses and buildings are. You drive your car on the street, of course. They’re going to drive around the block in order to find a parking space.

Alan says, “Did you say that the restaurant we’re going to has no off-street parking at all?” “Off-street parking” is parking that is in a garage or in what we would call a “parking lot” – an area of land specially designated to park cars on. There is “street parking” where you park your car on the side of the road or street, and then there is “off-street parking” where you park it in a parking lot or a parking garage. Sasha says, “None,” meaning the restaurant doesn’t have any off-street parking.

“When I called the restaurant earlier today,” she says, “I was told they have ample street parking.” “Ample” (ample) means more than enough, or plenty. Streets are “public,” which means anyone can park their car there. So, even if a restaurant says they have a lot of street parking around them, they can’t reserve that parking – they can’t say, “Well, no one else can park there but our customers.” And so this is the problem that Sasha and Alan are having. They are trying to find a place on the street to park near the restaurant and there doesn’t appear to be any.

Alan says, “Obviously not on a Saturday night,” meaning the restaurant obviously does not have an ample parking, especially on a busy night like Saturday. Then he says, “Look, there’s a space!” He thinks he sees a place for him to park. Sasha says, “No, look at the curb.” The “curb” (curb) is a raised concrete border, really, that is on the side of the street. It separates the street from the rest of the land, the sidewalk, or the area next to the street that is part of the block. Sasha says, “Look at the curb. That’s a loading zone and the area in front of it is a red zone.”

Sometimes there will be paint on the curb to tell you if you can park there or not. A “loading (loading) zone (zone)” is an area where you can park only for a few minutes in order to take something out of your car or to put something into your car. A “loading zone,” then, would be an area usually indicated by yellow paint on the curb, where you can only park for a short amount of time. A “red zone” is an area with the curb painted red, where you cannot park at all. Those are areas where if you do park, the police will come and give you a ticket – give you a fine – or perhaps even remove your car.

Sasha says that there is not a place for them to park on the street, that the place that Alan sees is actually a loading zone and a red zone. Alan says, “This is impossible. We’ve driven along this street four times and there are no parking spaces, not even ones with meters.” A “meter” (meter) here refers to a parking meter, where you can park in a certain place but you have to pay a certain amount of money for every fifteen or thirty minutes that you park there. Alan says, “I’d be willing to plug the meter all evening if we could just find a space.”

“To plug (plug) the meter,” or “to plug the parking meter,” means to put coins into the parking meters. Nowadays, many parking meters take credit cards, but we probably would still use the same expression, “to plug the meter” – to put coins into the parking meter. Sasha says, “I have an idea. Pull into the red zone.” “To pull into” means to park your car. She’s telling Alan to park the car in the red zone – which, remember, is a place where you’re not supposed to park. Alan says, “Okay, but we can’t park here. What’s that?”

Sasha says, “This is my grandfather’s handicapped placard. I borrowed it. We can park here with this.” “Handicapped” (handicapped) refers to someone who has some sort of physical problem –maybe they have problems walking or they have some other issue that makes them unable to walk or to move as easily as most people. A “placard” (placard) is a little sign that you either put in the front part of your car near your window or you hang it from what we call your “rear view mirror,” which is the mirror in your car that allows you to see what’s going on behind you.

If you are handicapped, the government will give you a special placard, a special card that you can put into your car that will allow you to park in special places. Usually we call these “handicapped spaces” or “handicapped parking.” They will also allow you in some cities to park at a parking meter and not pay. However, they never allow you to park in a red zone, but Sasha somehow thinks that if she uses this handicapped placard of her grandfather, she can park there. Another thing about a handicapped placard – you are not allowed to use it if you are not handicapped.

But of course, Sasha is using it anyway. Alan says, “I don’t think so. We’re going to get a parking ticket or worse, and we really shouldn’t be using your grandfather’s placard anyway.” Alan knows that this is not the right thing to do. He knows also, or at least he should know, that parking in a red zone even with a handicapped placard will get you a parking ticket – a penalty for parking there. Usually the police will leave a little piece of paper on your car telling you that you are now going to have to pay a “fine,” an amount of money as a punishment for parking there.

Sasha says, “Do you know how many strings I had to pull to get a reservation at the hottest restaurant in town?” The expression “to pull some strings” means to use your power or your influence in order to get something done that other people wouldn’t be able to get done. If you want to get tickets to a concert, and you know somebody who works where the concert is being held, you might ask that person for a favor to get you some tickets that other people would not be able to get. That would be “pulling some strings.”

Sasha pulled some strings to get a reservation at the hottest restaurant in town. The word “hottest” here means most popular – the one that everyone wants to go to right now. Sasha says, “Come on, let’s go. Why are you checking your wallet?” meaning why are you looking at your wallet, or inside of your wallet.

Sasha says, “Dinner is my treat.” To say something is your “treat” (treat) means you are going to pay for it. If I say, “I’m going to invite you to dinner. It’s my treat,” that means I’m going to pay for your dinner. I’m not, actually, but if you want to invite me to dinner and make it your treat, I’d be happy to go with you. Sasha is wondering why Alan is looking at his wallet since she is going to pay for dinner. That’s what she means when she says, “Dinner is my treat.”

Alan says, however, “I just want to make sure I have enough cash,” enough money, “for a taxi when your car gets towed!” “To tow” (tow) means to use a truck to take a car and remove it from where it is. If you park your car in a place where it should not be, sometimes the local police will tow your car. They will get a truck and they will remove your car, and then you have to pay a lot of money to get your car back. I know. It’s happened to me. And if you park in a red zone, even with a handicapped placard, you will also get towed.

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

[start of dialogue]

Alan: We have to find a parking space. Let’s drive around the block one more time. Did you say that the restaurant we’re going to has no off-street parking at all?

Sasha: None. When I called the restaurant earlier today, I was told they have ample street parking.

Alan: Obviously not on a Saturday night. Look, there’s a space!

Sasha: No, look at the curb. That’s a loading zone and the area in front of it is a red zone.

Alan: This is impossible. We’ve driven along this street four times and there are no parking spaces, not even ones with meters. I’d be willing to plug the meter all evening if we could just find a space.

Sasha: I have an idea. Pull into that red zone.

Alan: Okay, but we can’t park here. What’s that?

Sasha: This is my grandfather’s handicapped placard. I borrowed it. We can park here with this.

Alan: I don’t think so. We’re going to get a parking ticket or worse, and we really shouldn’t be using your grandfather’s placard anyway.

Sasha: Do you know how many strings I had to pull to get a reservation at the hottest restaurant in town? Come on, let’s go. Why are you checking your wallet? Dinner is my treat.

Alan: I just want to make sure I have enough cash for a taxi when your car gets towed!

[end of dialogue]

Our scripts give you an ample opportunity to improve your English, thanks to the wonderful writing by our scriptwriter, 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 2015 by the Center for Educational Development.

Glossary
parking space – an area in which one car can park, usually outlined with white paint

* The parking space closest to the office is reserved for the CEO.

block – the square or rectangle of land surrounded by four streets in a city, including all the buildings on that land

* The pharmacy is one block ahead, and the library is two blocks on your right.

off-street parking – parking spaces in a parking lot or in a parking garage, not on the sides of a street

* Any company that wants to build a new apartment complex must provide enough off-street parking for all the tenants and their guests.

ample – more than enough of something; a large number of something; plentiful

* The utility provided ample notice before cutting off electric service for nonpayment of bills.

street parking – parking spaces along the sides of a street

* It is almost impossible to find street parking anywhere near the stadium during big games or concerts.

curb – the raised concrete between the road and the sidewalk

* The blind woman used a cane to find the curb and safely step onto it to reach the sidewalk.

loading zone – an area where vehicles can park only to load or unload items, or to drop off or pick up passengers

* The two parking spaces in front of the hotel are a loading zone, intended for hotel deliveries and guest drop-off.

red zone – a place along a street where the curb in painted red, indicating that no one may park there at any time

* The corner is a red zone because it’s very close to a fire hydrant.

to plug the meter – to insert coins into a parking meter, paying money to be allowed to park there for a period of time

* Could you please give me four quarters for this dollar bill, so that I can plug the meter?

handicapped placard – a sign that hangs from the rearview mirror of a car and gives the driver official permission to park in a parking space that is reserved for people with disabilities who cannot walk to a building from a distant parking space

* When Jorge sprained his ankle and had to use crutches for a few weeks, he applied for a temporary handicapped placard.

parking ticket – a citation for parking; a piece of paper that states that one has parked illegally or improperly and provides instructions for paying a fine as punishment

* You can park here for up to two hours, but if you leave your car here longer than that, you might get a $75 parking ticket.

to pull strings – to use one’s power and influence to get something done; to make arrangements with someone in power so that something happens that would not normally be allowed to happen

* We had to pull a few strings, but Hannah now has an opportunity to audition for the orchestra.

hottest – most popular and trendy; extremely desirable

* Pierre always wears the hottest designer clothing.

(one’s) treat – something that is paid for by another person as a gift, especially when talking about food

* Do you want to go with me to get some ice cream? My treat.

to tow – for a truck to pull another car away, especially when that car is broken, or when it is parked where it does not have permission to park

* Their car broke down on the freeway and had to be towed to the nearest mechanic.

Comprehension Questions
1. Which of these involves paying money for something?
a) Finding a parking space
b) Plugging the meter
c) Pulling strings

2. What does Sasha mean when she says, “Dinner is my treat”?
a) She will pay for dinner.
b) Dinner will include dessert.
c) Dinner is going to taste very good.

Answers at bottom.

What Else Does It Mean?
curb

The word “curb,” in this podcast, means the raised concrete between the road and the sidewalk: “While walking in the dark at night, Kyle tripped on a curb, fell down, and broke his wrist.” As a verb, “to curb” means to control or limit something, especially to avoid a problem or minimize damage: “Eating a good breakfast can help to curb your appetite later in the day.” The phrase “to put a curb on (something)” means to try to limit or control something: “She locked her own kitchen cabinet to put a curb on snacking.” The phrase “to kick (someone or something) to the curb” means to reject something, especially in an embarrassing or humiliating way: “Many patients with pre-existing conditions were kicked to the curb when they applied for health insurance.”

treat

In this podcast, the phrase “(one’s) treat” means something that is paid for by another person as a gift, especially when talking about food: “Let’s go get haircuts together. My treat.” A “treat” can also be a candy or another sweet food that is not eaten often: “They picked up cookies and a few other treats at the grocery store.” The phrase “trick or treat” is said by children on Halloween night to ask for candy at neighbors’ homes. As a verb, “to treat” means to behave toward another person in a particular way: “Please treat your teachers with more respect.” Or, “The prison is investigating accusations that corrections officers are treating prisoners poorly.” Finally, the phrase “to treat (someone) like dirt” means to treat someone very badly: “Why are you still dating him? He treats you like dirt.”

Culture Note
Disability License Plates and Placards

Disability license plates and placards are designed to help people who have a “temporary” (for a little while) or “permanent” (forever) “disability” (a medical or physical condition that prevents one from doing certain things) by allowing them to park in “designated” (set aside for a particular purpose) places, typically the parking spots that are closest to a building and with “ample” (a lot of) room on both sides so that people with “wheelchairs” (chairs with wheels, used by people who cannot walk) can get in and out of their “vehicle” (car or truck) more easily.

A “disability license plate” is similar to a regular license plate, but it usually has a small symbol of a person sitting in a wheelchair. It is given to people who have a permanent disability. A “disability placard” is usually a thick piece of paper hung from the vehicles “rearview mirror” (the mirror inside the car, to the right of the driver, used to see behind the vehicle). The placards are given to people who are disabled only temporarily, such as people who have a broken leg or are recovering from surgery.

The rules for “obtaining” (getting) a disability license plate or placard “vary by state” (are different in different states). Each state “sets” (establishes) specific medical requirements that make a person eligible for disabled parking. These are typically the loss of use of hands or legs, an inability to walk a certain distance, or diseases of the heart or lungs. Applicants generally have to fill out a form and submit “evidence” (proof) of the qualifying medical condition. This is a usually a letter from a “physician” (medical doctor).

Comprehension Answers
1 - b

2 - a