Speak English Around Town » LESSON 17 - Dealing with Lost Luggage

Dealing with Lost Luggage

Tom complains to Jim, a Flyaway Airlines representative, that his suitcase is lost. Jim asks him to fill out some paperwork and assures him his bag will likely be found.

Tom: Excuse me, I just arrived on the flight from Atlanta and my suitcase is missing.

Jim: Did you wait until all the bags were unloaded?

Tom: Yes, I did. My suitcase is not there.

Jim: Here's a card with various suitcases. Which looks most like your piece of luggage?

Tom: It's like this one, and it's green.

Jim: Okay, I'll just have you fill out this paperwork.

Tom: I had all my clothes for a meeting this afternoon in that bag. Now I'm in a bind.

Jim: We'll reimburse you for clothing you buy today for up to $100.

Tom: I'm really pressed for time. I won't have time to go shopping for a new suit now!

Jim: Well, we'll do our best to track down your bag as quickly as possible.

Tom: What if my suitcase is lost for good?

Jim: Baggage usually turns up, so let's cross that bridge when we come to it.

Tom: I'm really up the creek now. It boggles my mind how you can just lose someone's luggage!

Jim: Let me give you a piece of advice. Next time, wear your suit on the airplane.

Tom: Thanks for the advice. Next time I think I'll fly a different airline!

  • (to) do one's best
    to try hard
    Example: I'll do my best to finish the report by Friday.
  • (to) fill out paperwork
    to complete one or more forms
    Example: Before seeing the doctor, you'll need to fill out this paperwork.
  • for good
    forever; permanently
    Example: After graduating from college, Ryan moved back in with his parents. They hope he'll move out for good soon.
  • in a bind
    in a difficult situation; in need of help
    Example: Our school is in a bind. We need $10,000 to buy new textbooks, but there's no money in our budget for it.
  • it (or that) boggles my mind
    I'm very surprised by that
    Example: Some people spend $100 a day to send their dogs to a spa. That boggles my mind!
  • let's cross that bridge when we come to it
    let's not worry about that until we need to
    Example: "What if we can't find a buyer for our house?" - "Let's cross that bridge when we come to it."
  • pressed for time
    in a hurry; not having much time
    Example: We asked the waiter to bring the check with dinner, explaining that we were pressed for time.
  • (to) track down
    to find (often after a long search)
    Example: A Picasso was stolen from the Metropolitan Museum? I hope they can track down the thieves!
  • (to) turn up
    to be found
    Example: Angela hopes her missing earring will turn up before the dance on Saturday.
  • up the creek
    in trouble; in a very difficult situation
    Example: Our rent is due on Friday, and we have no money in our bank account. We 're up the creek!
    NOTE: The longer form of this expression is: up the creek without a paddle.
Practice the Expressions

Fill in the blank with the missing word:

  1. The CEO of Walt Disney made over $53 million last year. That boggles my _____ !
    • a) brain
    • b) mind
    • c) head
  2. I can't find my theater ticket anywhere. Can you help me track it _____ ?
    • a) up
    • b) over
    • c) down
  3. Can I call you back later? I'm pressed _____ time right now.
    • a) with
    • b) in
    • c) for
  4. Good news! My missing theater ticket just turned _____.
    • a) down
    • b) up
    • c) in
  5. Ted needs to be at the airport in an hour and his car won't start. He's _____ a bind.
    • a) up
    • b) with
    • c) in
  6. Is Paul moving to Prague for _____ or is he just going to spend a year or two there?
    • a) better
    • b) best
    • c) good
  7. "What if we can't get up our driveway due to the snowstorm?" - "Let's cross that _____ when we come to it."
    • a) street
    • b) river
    • c) bridge
  8. If you want to apply for a job with the Central Intelligence Agency, be prepared to fill _____ a lot of paperwork.
    • a) in
    • b) out
    • c) up
  9. If we don't get our visas for Vietnam by next Tuesday, we're going to be up the _____.
    • a) creek
    • b) river
    • c) stream
  10. _____ your best to finish your homework so you can come to the movies with us.
    • a) Make
    • b) Have
    • c) Do
Answer Key
Practice The Expressions
  1. b
  2. c
  3. c
  4. b
  5. c
  6. c
  7. c
  8. b
  9. a
  10. c
Answer Key
Language Lens: Count & Non-count Nouns

Count nouns (also called "countable nouns") are people, places, or things that we can count. They can be singular (a chair, a cup, a cat) or plural (chairs, cups, cats).

Non-count nouns are materials, substances, concepts, information, etc. which we cannot count.

Here are some common non-count nouns:
accommodation furniture postage
advice garbage progress
air homework research
baggage information software
bread knowledge sugar
butter love traffic
clothing luggage trouble
equipment money water
energy music weather
fruit news work

Non-count nouns:
=> We do not use "a/an" directly before non-count nouns. To express a quantity of one of these nouns, use a word or phrase like:
a piece of: a piece of bread, a piece of advice, a piece of news
a cup of: a cup of soup, a cup of water, a cup of tea
some: some information, some news, some furniture
a lot of: a lot of water, a lot of luggage, a lot of happiness

=> Non-count nouns are always singular. Remembering this can. help you avoid a lot of mistakes.
Say: This is good news! NOT: These are good news!
Say: The equipment is heavy. NOT: The equipment arc hcarry.
Say: The information is valuable. NOT: The infonnation are valuable.
Say: My luggage is heavy. NOT: My luggage are heairy.
Say: The money is in the bank. NOT: The money are in the bank.

Count nouns:

=> A singular count noun always takes either the indefinite article (a, an) or the definite article (the):
Tracy is looking for a job.
Did Tracy get the job she applied for?

=> A plural count noun takes the definite article (the) if it refers to a definite, specific group. It takes no article if used in a general sense (generalizations):
The dogs you adopted are cute. ( specific => the)
Dogs are fun pets. (general => no article)

Using the quantity expressions much, many, a little, a few:

=> Use much with non-count nouns:
How much change should we bring?
I wish you much happiness. (I wish you a lot of happiness).*

=> Use many with count nouns:
• How many quarters should we bring?
• I took many great classes. (I took a lot of great classes).*

* Note: In statements like these, you can also use "a lot of" instead of "much" or "many." It sounds more conversational.

Little/A Few
=> Use little with non-count nouns:
We have made little progress since the summer.
Sam has little money left.

=> Use few with count nouns:
We have completed a few projects since the summer.
Sam has a few dollars left.

Quick Quiz

Fill in the blank with the missing word or words:

  1. Let me give you _____ .
    • a) an advice
    • b) a piece of advice
  2. _____ good news!
    • a) This is
    • b) These are
  3. We are making _____ with our report.
    • a) a progress
    • b) progress
  4. Neil has _____ friends.
    • a) many
    • b) much
  5. I wish you _____ luck with your job search.
    • a) many
    • b) much
  6. The information you gave me _____ useful.
    • a) are
    • b) is
  7. The clothing you gave my daughter _____ beautiful.
    • a) are
    • b) is
  8. We had _____ time for sightseeing on our business trip.
    • a) few
    • b) little
  9. I only have _____ dollars left in my wallet.
    • a) a few
    • b) a little
  10. How _____ cups of coffee have you had today?
    • a) much
    • b) many
Answer Key
  1. b
  2. a
  3. b
  4. a
  5. b
  6. b
  7. b
  8. b
  9. a
  10. b
Answer Key
Favorite Books

If you already speak some English and now would like to speak more like a native, “Speak English Like an American” will help you. One of the keys to speaking like a native is the ability to use and understand casual expressions, or idioms. American English is full of idioms. Speak English Like an American will help you understand and use idioms better. It contains over 300 of today's most common idioms.

Read more