Speak English Like an American » LESSON 1 - Bob's Day at Work

Bob's Day at Work

Bob works as a manager in a furniture store. Peter, his boss, is not happy about sales. Bob's new advertising campaign hasn't helped. Peter decides to fire him.

Peter: Bob, I hate to break the news, but our sales were down again last month.

Bob: Down again, Peter?

Peter: Yeah. These days, everybody's shopping at our competition, Honest Abe's Furniture Store.

Bob: But everything in there costs an arm and a leg!

Peter: That's true. They do charge top dollar.

Bob: And their salespeople are very strange. They really give me the creeps!

Peter: Well, they must be doing something right over there. Meanwhile, we're about to go belly-up.

Bob: I'm sorry to hear that. I thought my new advertising campaign would save the day.

Peter: Let's face it: your advertising campaign was a real flop.

Bob: Well then I'll go back to the drawing board.

Peter: It's too late for that. You're fired!

Bob: What? You're giving me the ax?

Peter: Yes. I've already found a new manager. She's as sharp as a tack.

Bob: Can't we even talk this over? After all, I've been working here for 10 years!

Peter: There's no point in arguing, Bob. I've already made up my mind.

Bob: Oh well, at least I won't have to put up with your nonsense anymore! Good-bye to you and good-bye to this dead-end job.

Peter: Please leave before I lose my temper!

  • about to
    ready to; on the verge of
    Example 1: It's a good thing Bob left the furniture store when he did. Peter was so angry, he was about to throw a dining room chair at him.
    Example 2: I'm glad you're finally home. I was just about to have dinner without you.
  • after all
    Despite everything; when everything has been considered; the fact is
    Example 1: You'd better invite Ed to your party. After all, he's a good friend.
    Example 2: It doesn't matter what your boss thinks of you. After all, you're going to quit your job anyway.
  • at least
    anyway; the good thing is that...
    Example 1: We've run out of coffee, but at least we still have tea.
    Example 2: Tracy can't afford to buy a car, but at least she has a good bicycle.

    Note: The second definition of this phrase is "no less than": There were at least 300 people waiting in line to buy concert tickets.

  • (to) break the news
    to make something known
    Example 1: Samantha and Michael are getting married, but they haven't yet broken the news to their parents.
    Example 2: You'd better break the news to your father carefully. After all, you don't want him to have a heart attack!
  • (to) cost an arm and a leg
    to be very expensive
    Example 1: A college education in America costs an arm and a leg.
    Example 2: All of the furniture at Honest Abe's costs an arm and a leg!
  • dead-end job
    a job that won't lead to anything else
    Example 1: Diane realized that working as a cashier was a dead-end job.
    Example 2: Jim worked many dead-end jobs before finally deciding to start his own business.
  • (let's) face it
    accept a difficult reality
    Example 1: Let's face it, if Ted spent more time studying, he wouldn't be failing so many of his classes!
    Example 2: Let's face it, if you don't have a college degree, it can be difficult to find a high-paying job.
  • (to) give one the creeps
    to create a feeling of disgust or horror
    Example 1: Ted's friend Matt has seven earrings in each ear and an "I Love Mom" tattoo on his arm. He really gives Nicole the creeps.
    Example 2: There was a strange man following me around the grocery store. He was giving me the creeps!
  • (to) go back to the drawing board
    to start a task over because the last try failed; to start again from the beginning
    EXAMPLE 1: Frank's new business failed, so he had to go back to the drawing board.
    EXAMPLE 2: The president didn't agree with our new ideas for the company, so we had to go back to the drawing board.
  • (to) go belly-up
    to go bankrupt
    EXAMPLE 1: Many people lost their jobs when Enron went belly-up.
    EXAMPLE 2: My company lost $3 million last year. We might go belly-up.
  • (to) give someone the ax
    to fire someone
    EXAMPLE 1: Mary used to talk to her friends on the phone all day at work, until one day her boss finally gave her the ax.
    EXAMPLE 2: Poor Paul! He was given the ax two days before Christmas.
  • (to) lose one's temper
    to become very angry
    EXAMPLE 1: Bob always loses his temper when his kids start talking on the telephone during dinner.
    EXAMPLE 2: When Ted handed in his essay two weeks late, his teacher really lost her temper.
  • (to) make up one's mind
    to reach a decision; to decide
    EXAMPLE 1: Stephanie couldn't make up her mind whether to attend Harvard or Stanford. Finally, she chose Stanford.
    EXAMPLE 2: Do you want an omelette or fried eggs? You'll need to make up your mind quickly because the waitress is coming.
  • no point in
    no reason to; it's not worth (doing something)
    EXAMPLE 1: There's no point in worrying about things you can't change.
    EXAMPLE 2: There's no point in going on a picnic if it's going to rain.
  • (to) put up with
    to endure without complaint
    EXAMPLE 1: For many years, Barbara put up with her husband's annoying behavior. Finally, she decided to leave him.
    EXAMPLE 2: I don't know how Len puts up with his mean boss every day.
  • real flop or flop
    a failure
    EXAMPLE 1: The Broadway play closed after just 4 days - it was a real flop!
    EXAMPLE 2: The company was in trouble after its new product flopped.
  • (to) save the day
    to prevent a disaster or misfortune
    EXAMPLE 1: The Christmas tree was on fire, but Ted threw water on it and saved the day.
    EXAMPLE 2: We forgot to buy champagne for our New Year's party, but Sonia brought some and really saved the day!
  • (as) sharp as a tack
    very intelligent
    EXAMPLE 1: Jay scored 100% on his science test. He's as sharp as a tack.
    EXAMPLE 2: Anna got a scholarship to Yale. She's as sharp as a tack.
  • (to) talk over
    to discuss
    EXAMPLE 1: Dave and I spent hours talking over the details of the plan.
    EXAMPLE 2: Before you make any big decisions, give me a call and we'll talk things over.
  • top dollar
    the highest end of a price range; a lot of money
    EXAMPLE 1: Nicole paid top dollar for a shirt at Banana Republic.
    EXAMPLE 2: Wait until those jeans go on sale. Why pay top dollar?
Practice The Idioms

Fill in the blank with the missing word:

  1. I can't believe you bought a couch at Honest Abe's. Everything in that store costs an arm and a _____.
    • a) foot
    • b) leg
    • c) hand
  2. After Bob found out that his advertising campaign failed, he wanted to go back to the drawing _____.
    • a) board
    • b) table
    • c) room
  3. When somebody isn't listening to you, there's no _____ in trying to argue with them.
    • a) edge
    • b) tip
    • c) point
  4. Jose is really smart. He's as sharp as a _____.
    • a) tack
    • b) nail
    • c) screw
  5. The salespeople at Honest Abe's always look angry and never speak to anybody. No wonder they _____ Bob the creeps.
    • a) take
    • b) give
    • c) allow
  6. Bob got fired. He isn't looking forward to _____ the news to his family.
    • a) breaking
    • b) cracking
    • c) saying
  7. Bob thought his new advertisements would bring in lots of customers and save the _____.
    • a) morning
    • b) night
    • c) day
  8. Fortunately, Bob no longer has to put _____ with his stupid boss at the furniture store.
    • a) over
    • b) in
    • c) up
Answer Key
Practice The Idioms
  1. b
  2. a
  3. c
  4. a
  5. b
  6. a
  7. c
  8. c
Answer Key
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