Daily English
Cultural English
Practical English

09 Leaving Work

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I look at the clock and it’s already 5:30. It’s quitting time! I still need to put the finishing touches on my report, but I can do that on Monday morning before I
submit it to my boss. Some weeks I have to take work home and burn the midnight oil, but not this week. I have everything under control and I don’t need
to work over the weekend.

I pack up my briefcase and shut down my computer. I put some important papers back in their folder and leave it in my desk drawer for safekeeping. I take
the papers and files from my outbox and put them in my coworker’s inbox. But when I get back to my desk, another coworker has put some new memos and
papers in my inbox! I like to clear my desk as much as possible at the end of the week to avoid clutter, and I guess everyone else does, too!

I look at my desk one last time to make sure I haven’t left anything behind, and I’m ready to head home. Weekend, here I come!

GLOSSARY

quitting time – time to leave the office at the end of the workday; the end of the workday
* For some banks, quitting time is at 5:30, except on Fridays when they’re open until 6:00.

finishing touch – a small detail that will complete something; a small change, addition, or deletion that will end something
* The dessert looked delicious, but it got even better when Mariah put on the finishing touch – red cherries on top of the ice cream.

to submit – to turn something in; to give something to someone for review
* Are we supposed to submit the application on paper or can we send it by email?

to take work home – to do one’s work at home at night or on the weekend because there wasn’t enough time to do it at the office
* Craig has been taking work home all month because he’s worried that the team won’t be able to finish the project on time.

to burn the midnight oil – to work or study late at night when other people are sleeping
* Leticia must have burned the midnight oil to write such a long report in just two days.

under control – a manageable situation; something that one can handle; something that one is in control of
* Excuse me. It looks like you’re having trouble. Is everything under control or would you like some help?

to pack up – to put things inside of a suitcase, box, or another container to take them when one leaves
* When the Kwon family was moving, Mr. Kwon packed up the dishes and Mrs. Kwon packed up the clothes.

briefcase – a rectangular box with hard sides and a handle, usually made from leather, that is used to carry work papers
* If you work with a lot of private and confidential information, be sure to use a briefcase that locks.

to shut down – to turn off a computer or another machine
* Did you remember to shut down your computer before you left the office?

desk drawer – a box that has a handle in front and can be pulled out of a desk or another piece of furniture to put things inside it
* There are some extra pens and pencils in the second desk drawer on the right.

safekeeping – safety; protection from getting lost or stolen
* Pilar made an extra copy of her house key and gave it to her aunt for safekeeping.

outbox – a small rectangular metal, wooden, or plastic box on one’s desk where one puts papers that need to be given to other people
* At the end of the day, I have to take the papers out of my outbox and give them to the people who need them.

to clear – to clean off; to organize and remove objects on the surface of a table,
desk, or shelf
* Can you please clear the table so that there’s room to eat dinner?

clutter – many small things that are disorganized, messy, not being used, and not where they are supposed to be
* There is so much clutter in Afra’s bedroom that it’s almost impossible to walk in without stepping on something!

to leave (something) behind – to forget something; to forget to take something when one leaves a place
* When Angelo went to work this morning, he accidentally left his glasses behind, so he had to ask his brother to bring them to him.

to head home – to begin going home; to leave another place to go home
* Scott meant to head home at 6:00, but then he decided to have dinner and go to a movie with some friends instead and he didn’t get home until almost
midnight.

here I come – an expression used to show that one is excited to do something or go somewhere in the near future
* Charlotte has been looking forward to her vacation for a long time, so everyone laughed when, on her last day of work, she said, “Miami, here I come!”


COMPLETE TRANSCRIPT

You’re listening to ESLPod.com’s “Using English at Work.” I’m your host, Dr. Jeff McQuillan, from the Center for Educational Development.

In our last lesson, our eighth lesson in “Using English at Work,” we learned vocabulary related to having a meeting with the boss. In this ninth lesson, we’re
going to talk about leaving work at the end of the day.

We’ll get started by listening to the story read at a slow speed.

[start of script]

I look at the clock and it’s already 5:30. It’s quitting time! I still need to put the finishing touches on my report, but I can do that on Monday morning before I
submit it to my boss. Some weeks I have to take work home and burn the midnight oil, but not this week. I have everything under control and I don’t need to work over the weekend.

I pack up my briefcase and shut down my computer. I put some important papers back in their folder and leave it in my desk drawer for safekeeping. I take the papers and files from my outbox and put them in my coworker’s inbox. But when I get back to my desk, another coworker has put some new memos and papers in my inbox! I like to clear my desk as much as possible at the end of the week to avoid clutter, and I guess everyone else does, too!

I look at my desk one last time to make sure I haven’t left anything behind, and I’m ready to head home. Weekend, here I come!

[end of script]

When our story begins, I look at the clock and I see that it’s already 5:30. It’s quitting time! “Quitting time” is the end of the workday, the time when people are supposed to leave the office and go home. In reality, a lot of people work past the traditional quitting time, but in this story I’m able to leave at 5:30. I say I still need to put the finishing touches on my report. A “finishing touch” is a small change, detail, or perhaps addition that needs to be made in order to finish something. When you’re cooking, for example, a finishing touch might be to add some salt and pepper right at the end of the cooking process. When your wife is getting dressed in the morning, a finishing touch may be a piece of jewelry, the last thing that she puts on. I’m talking about putting the finishing touches on my report, which might be writing a little more text or perhaps formatting the document differently.

I say that I can put those finishing touches on the report on Monday morning before I submit it to my boss. “To submit” here means to turn something in to someone – to give something to someone, usually for them to look at and review. You can submit a job application if you are trying to get a job, or you can submit a drawing in a drawing or art contest to win a prize. Once my report is finished on Monday, I’ll need to submit, or give, it to my boss so that he can read it.

Some weeks I have to take work home. “To take work home” means to do work at home, either at night or on the weekends, because you didn’t have time to complete it at the office. I don’t like taking work home, but sometimes it’s necessary if I want to finish a project on time. When I take work home, I have to burn the midnight oil. “To burn the midnight oil” means to work or study very late at night when everyone else is asleep. Most people are sleeping by midnight, but if I am burning the midnight oil, I am working at that time. The expression comes from when lamps had oil in them, and you would light that; the oil would burn so that you would have light.

Fortunately, this week I don’t have to take work home and burn the midnight oil. I have everything under control. The phrase “under control” means that something is manageable, or that you can handle or control it. The opposite would be to say that things are “out of control,” meaning that you can’t handle or manage the situation. When things are out of control, I have to take work home and burn the midnight oil. But this week I have everything under control, so I don’t need to work over the weekend.

In order to get ready to go home, I pack up my briefcase. “To pack up” means to put something inside a briefcase, or a suitcase, or perhaps a box so that you can take it with you when you leave a place. If you move to a new apartment or house, you have to pack up everything so that you can move it to the new place. A “briefcase” is a rectangular box, usually with hard sides and a handle that businesspeople traditionally use to carry their work papers. These days, a lot of briefcases also have a place for your laptop computer. We can still call these “briefcases,” or some people prefer to call them “computer bags.” When I pack up my briefcase, I am putting papers and other things into this small container – this case that I can use to carry things to and from work.

The next thing I do is shut down my computer. “To shut down” a computer means to turn off a computer or to turn off some other large device or machine; we use the same expression, “to shut down.” Some offices shut down the copy

machine at the end of the day. After I shut down my computer, I put some important papers back into their folder and leave the folder in my desk drawer for
safekeeping. A “desk drawer” is the part of your desk that is a box with a handle on the front so you can pull it open, put things inside, and then close it again. My desk drawers are full of pens, pencils, paper, files, perhaps some paper clips – I need to clean out my desk drawers is what I’m saying! Safekeeping” means safety, security, or storage in a place where things won’t get lost, stolen, or damaged. For example, I may take my wedding ring off when I’m going swimming, and I will put it in my drawer for safe keeping so that it doesn’t get lost or stolen. We put our money in the bank for safekeeping, and you probably keep important documents in some place in your house or business for safekeeping; we often put them in a “safe,” which is a box, usually a metal box that is locked.

Next, I take the paper and files from my outbox and put them in my coworker’s inbox. An “outbox” is a small rectangular container made of metal, plastic, or
perhaps wood that sits on the top of your desk and holds papers that need to be given to other people. During the day, as I finish working on papers, I put them in my outbox and then at the end of the day I take those papers and I put them in the inbox of the people who need to see them. In the story, after I do that, I get back to my desk and see that another coworker has emptied her outbox and put some new things into my inbox! The “inbox” is where you put things that you need to work on – it’s where other people put things that you need to work on. This, of course, means that I now have more work waiting for me when I come back the following workday.

I like to clear my desk as much as possible at the end of the week. “To clear something” means to organize and remove objects that are on the table. Parents may ask their children to clear their toys from the floor, or to clear their books from the table. Clearing my desk at the end of the week helps me avoid clutter. “Clutter” (clutter) means many small things that are unorganized, not being used, or not where they’re supposed to be. The bedroom of a teenager is often full of clutter. I don’t like my desk being full of clutter, and that’s why I cleared it off, or cleared it, but when I came back there were more papers in my inbox, so I guess everyone else likes to clear their desks to avoid clutter, also!

Finally, I look at my desk one last time to make sure that I haven’t left anything behind. “To leave something behind” means to forget to take something when you are leaving a place. When I leave the office on a hot afternoon, I may accidentally leave my jacket behind and then I don’t have anything warm to wear on my walk back to work the next day when it’s cold in the morning. It’s always a good idea to look around and make sure that you haven’t left anything behind when you leave a place. This happens to me when I go to a hotel; I always forget something because I don’t look around to make sure I haven’t left anything behind.

In our story, I don’t see anything that I’ve forgotten, so I’m ready to head home. “To head home” means to leave a place and start to go home. You may head
home at 5:30 and on a day when there isn’t very much traffic, you may arrive home, or get home at 6:00, assuming you don’t have a long commute or drive, a
long bus ride, or train ride home. If you live in Los Angeles, you can expect to get home another hour and a half later. The verb “to head,” here, means to go in that direction, to move in that direction. “To head east” means to go in an easterly direction. “To head to the beach” means to start driving or walking or taking a bus toward the beach.

As I’m leaving the office, I think, “Weekend, here I come!” The phrase “here I come” is used to show that you are excited to do something or to go somewhere in the near future. In this case, I’m excited to begin the weekend. You might say, “California, here I come!” when you’re excited about visiting or moving to California. In fact, there was a famous song; “California, here I come” was one of the lines or sentences in the song.

Now that we’ve talked about the new vocabulary, let’s listen to the story again, this time at a normal speed.

[start of script]

I look at the clock and it’s already 5:30. It’s quitting time! I still need to put the finishing touches on my report, but I can do that on Monday morning before I
submit it to my boss. Some weeks I have to take work home and burn the midnight oil, but not this week. I have everything under control and I don’t need
to work over the weekend.

I pack up my briefcase and shut down my computer. I put some important papers back in their folder and leave it in my desk drawer for safekeeping. I take
the papers and files from my outbox and put them in my coworker’s inbox. But when I get back to my desk, another coworker has put some new memos and
papers in my inbox! I like to clear my desk as much as possible at the end of the week to avoid clutter, and I guess everyone else does, too!

I look at my desk one last time to make sure I haven’t left anything behind, and I’m ready to head home. Weekend, here I come!

[end of script]

That brings us to the end of our ninth lesson. In our tenth and final lesson, I’m going to talk about socializing with coworkers.

This course has been a production of the Center for Educational Development, in beautiful Los Angeles, California. Visit our website at eslpod.com.

This course was produced by Dr. Jeff McQuillan and Dr. Lucy Tse. Copyright 2008.