Speak English Like an American » LESSON 20 - Bob Gets an Angry Call from Carol

Bob Gets an Angry Call from Carol

Carol calls Bob to tell him that a customer found a hair in her cookie. Bob wants Carol to forget about this, but Carol thinks it's very serious. She refuses to buy any more cookies from Bob.

Carol: Bob, a lady came into the Village Market today ranting and raving.

Bob: Oh yeah? What happened?

Carol: She found a blue hair in her chocolate chip cookie!

Bob: Aha. I can see how she'd be taken aback.

Carol: Does anybody in your family have blue hair?

Bob: As a matter of fact, my son's girlfriend Amber has blue hair.

Carol: Bob, I can't sell your cookies anymore.

Bob: Aren't you blowing things out of proportion?

Carol: The health department would throw the book at me if they found out about this.

Bob: Couldn't we just sweep this under the rug?

Carol: No. This is too serious.

Bob: But I was just getting a handle on the cookie business. Now what will I do? I don't have any other way of making a living!

Carol: My heart goes out to you, Bob, but you need to get your act together. I want to sell chocolate chip cookies, not hair cookies!

Bob: I guess I just knocked myself out for the past week for nothing.

Carol: Clearly!

  • as a matter of fact
    in fact; actually
    EXAMPLE 1: We need more milk? As a matter of fact, I was just going to ask you to go shopping.
    EXAMPLE 2: This isn't the first time Andy has gotten in trouble at school. As a matter of fact, just last month he was suspended for an entire week.
  • (to) blow things out of proportion
    to exaggerate; to make more of something than one should
    EXAMPLE 1: They sent a 12 year-old boy to jail for biting his babysitter? Don't you think they're blowing things out of proportion?
    EXAMPLE 2: Sally called the police when her neighbor's party got too loud. I think that was blowing things out of proportion.

    SYNONYM: To make a mountain out of a molehill

  • (to) find out
    to learn; to discover
    EXAMPLE 1: Al is calling the theater to find out what time the movie starts.
    EXAMPLE 2: David had a big party at his house while his parents were away on vacation. Fortunately for him, they never found out.
  • (to) get a handle on
    to gain an understanding of
    EXAMPLE 1: This new computer program is very difficult. I still haven't gotten a handle on it.
    EXAMPLE 2: Once you get a handle on how the game works, please explain it to everybody else.
  • (to) get one's act together
    to get organized; to start operating more effectively
    EXAMPLE 1: If Ted gets his act together now, he might be able to get into a good college.
    EXAMPLE 2: We'd better get our act together. Otherwise, we're going to miss our flight.
  • (to) knock oneself out
    to work very hard at something (sometimes too hard)
    EXAMPLE 1: Ted knocked himself out getting votes for Nicole, and she didn't even say thank you.
    EXAMPLE 2: I really knocked myself out getting these free concert tickets for you and your girlfriend. I hope you appreciate it.

    NOTE: "Don't knock yourself out!" means don't work too hard at something or for someone; it's not worth it. Example: Don't knock yourself out for Jeremy — he won't appreciate it anyway!

  • (to) make a living
    to earn enough money to support oneself
    EXAMPLE 1: Many people laugh at him, but Bill actually makes a living selling gourmet dog food.
    EXAMPLE 2: Danny makes some money playing his guitar on street corners, but not enough to make a living.
  • one's heart goes out to (someone)
    to feel sorry for someone
    EXAMPLE 1: My heart goes out to the Richardsons. Their home was destroyed in a fire.
    EXAMPLE 2: Naomi's heart went out to all the people who lost their jobs when the auto plant shut down.
  • (to) rant and rave
    to talk loudly, often in anger
    EXAMPLE 1: A customer in the video rental store was ranting and raving that the DVD he rented was broken.
    EXAMPLE 2: Please stop ranting and raving! Let's discuss this issue in a calm manner.
  • (to) sweep (something) under the rug
    to hide something, often a scandal
    EXAMPLE 1: "Senator, don't try to sweep it under the rug. Everybody knows about your affair with the intern."
    EXAMPLE 2: Let's just sweep this incident under the rug and move on.
  • taken aback
    surprised (almost always in a negative sense)
    EXAMPLE 1: Nicole was taken aback when her friend Rosa told her she no longer wanted to hang out with her.
    EXAMPLE 2: I was taken aback when my friend asked me if she could borrow my toothbrush because she forgot hers at home.
  • (to) throw the book at someone
    to punish or chide severely
    EXAMPLE 1: When Ted failed his chemistry test the second time, his teacher really threw the book at him.
    EXAMPLE 2: The judge threw the book at Matt for stealing a football from the store. He'll be going to jail for six months.
Practice The Idioms

Choose the best substitute for the phrase in bold:

  1. After Nicole lost the election, she started ranting and raving.
    • a) complaining loudly
    • b) speaking quietly
    • c) asking many questions
  2. When a stranger approached me on the bus and asked to borrow my cell phone, I was taken aback.
    • a) disappointed
    • b) surprised
    • c) delighted
  3. When George showed up for work five minutes late, his boss Beth threatened to fire him. Beth is known for blowing things out of proportion.
    • a) making a big deal out of small things
    • b) lying
    • c) creating extra work for someone
  4. My apartment is always messy. I need to get my act together and start cleaning it once a week.
    • a) start pretending
    • b) gather a group of people together
    • c) get organized
  5. My heart goes out to all the homeless people lying outside my apartment building in February.
    • a) I help
    • b) I feel sorry for
    • c) I feel good about
  6. I just found out yesterday that Amber never washes her hands before making cookies. Ted told me.
    • a) saw
    • b) overheard
    • c) learned
  7. The judge is going to throw the book at Jim for robbing several houses.
    • a) release Jim from jail
    • b) charge Jim with an offense
    • c) read to Jim
  8. Ted's chemistry homework was much more difficult than Nicole had expected. She just couldn't seem to get a handle on it.
    • a) finish it
    • b) understand it
    • c) hold it in her hands
Answer Key
Practice The Idioms
  1. a
  2. b
  3. a
  4. c
  5. b
  6. c
  7. b
  8. b
Answer Key
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