Hope Springs Eternal Part 1 of 4

Is inviting the boss always off the table?

Transcript of Layer Cake Podcast Episode #7

Welcome to Layer Cake!

I'm your host, Dr. Angela Brumett, and this is your English fluency podcast. Layer Cake is sponsored by Parlay Vacay English Immersion Weekends. Build your English fluency online and in person at beautiful and relaxing destinations.

Layer Up your English!

You can listen to Layer Cake on your favorite podcast app, or go to Parlay ParlayVacay.com/LayerCake where you'll also find podcast notes, more about our guests, and learn all the new vocabulary and phrases in the content of our show.

And with that out of the way, let's get started!

This week Layer Cake presents part one of our exclusive four part mini series "Hope Springs Eternal." So... Relax. Layer Up your English. And enjoy.

Layer Cake presents "Hope Springs Eternal Part 1 of 4: Is Inviting the Boss Always Off the Table?"


[typing and mumbling] A lot to see... Um... This is... Hmmm.

Oh! You're here! I must have lost track of the time. I'll have to improvise. Lucky for me, English is my native language.

Hi Dr. Brumett! And hello to all the Layer Cake listeners. I'm Lisa, and I work in the corporate office of a water bottling company called Hope Springs. It's an American company with an international staff. Some of us are native speakers. And some are not. But the language we always use at work is always English.

My role is in Human Resources, better known as HR. It's my job to hire, fire, train, settle disputes, and plan social events for the employees.

Dr. Brumett said it would be good for me to wear a wire, so you can hear what I do. You may be thinking "It isn't right to eavesdrop." But don't worry, it's okay because you're with us to maximize your English fluency.

Some of the employees are having lunch in the break room. So I'll take this opportunity to get some feedback about the party that we'll be having next Friday.

Max, in Accounts Receivable, just graduated with his MBA, which took him just eight years. [delay: Well, I know that's too long? but I'm afraid he attended only part-time.

Everyone loves Max, and we all want to both congratulate him and show him our appreciation by surprising him with a celebration. There's just one rather delicate matter I have to sort out first. Okay, ready? Let's go.

[Lisa takes a quick bite and a sip]


Should we invite Melinda to the surprise party for Max. Would it be too awkward?


Very awkward!


I felt pretty lousy sneaking around inviting everybody except Melinda. I don't want to hurt anybody's feelings, not even hers.


I really doubt she even noticed.. Since you are just a peon.


And this invite is just for the peons.


Right. I guess I just forgot.


How about we consider what is best for Max? Melinda has given him such a large caseload that he has to stay late almost every night. She overworks him!


Hmm. Those are excellent points.


You said something about feelings, but she doesn't have those. She's the ice queen. Not to mention, nobody wants her there.


That seems to be the gist of it.


Why would we invite our boss to spy on us? Are we gluttons for punishment?


That one hadn't crossed my mind.

Okay, all good feedback. Thanks!

[exit door slams behind Lisa]

See? I've got my work cut out for me. I guess I won't be extending an invitation to Melinda. Moving on! It's time to think about the next challenge: how I'm going to make absolutely sure that Max will be in the right place at the right time.

Did you hear any new words or phrases? Check out the transcript and the fluency builder lesson online at Parlay Vacay.com/layercake

Layer Up your English!

These items may be useful before and/or after listening to the recorded episode.

Key concepts are followed by the Vocabulary and Phrases then Questions for understanding and Discussion Topics.

Items are presented in the order they appear and are defined only as used in the featured piece (other uses may exist).

Key Concepts

hope springs eternal: a phrase used to describe a positive attitude that never ends despite constant failure. Famous phrase from "An Essay on Man" by English poet Alexander Pope.

springs: natural sources of fresh water

eternal: everlasting; forever

boss: the individual in a workplace with authority over other employees

off the table: not an option; no longer an option

surprise party: a celebration planned in secret and beginning when the unaware guest of honor arrives, usually by everyone else suddenly shouting "Surprise!" and revealing their presence

Vocabulary & Phrases

improvise: to do the best you can without the right tools or preparation

corporate office: the higher office of a company

staff: employee(s)

HR: the Human Resources Department of a company

settle disputes: make decisions about disagreements between parties

to wear a wire: to hide a microphone device on one's body so others can secretly listen

to eavesdrop: to listen to other people's private conversations

break room: designated area for employees to take a break

Accounts Receivable: the department responsible for billing and collecting payments

MBA: Master of Business Administration degree

to congratulate: to praise someone for their achievement

delicate: fragile, sensitive

to sort out: to organize or fix something that is complex

awkward: uncomfortable

pretty lousy: of very poor quality

sneaking around: going from place to place in secret or undetected

since: because, due to the fact that

peon: slang for person with the lowest status, usually doing the hardest work

the/this invite: slang for the/this invitation

caseload: a collection of different cases to resolve

to overwork (someone): to expect or force someone to do too much work

Not to mention: another very obvious reason

ice queen: a woman without emotions

the gist: the summary or most important facts

to spy on (someone): to discretely watch (someone) in order to gather information against them

gluttons for punishment: those who enjoy suffering

crossed my mind: passed through my thoughts

feedback: responses to something specific for the purpose of improving it

got my work cut out for me: have a big and difficult job to do

extending an invitation: giving an invitation, asking someone to participate

moving on: "never mind" or planning to make no further effort in a particular area

in the right place at the right time: a common collocation (group of words) used when events happen in the right order with the right elements for the right results.

Questions for Understanding

1. What kind of company is Hope Springs?

3. Why do the employees want to have a party for Max?

3. What were some of the arguments given for not inviting the boss to the party?

Discussion Topics

1. What kinds of social events does your workplace offer?

2. As an employee, would you feel comfortable if your boss attended a party organized by employees for another employee? As a boss, would you care if you were not invited to such a party? Why or why not?

3. Should a workplace function as a social outlet for its employees? Should there be any rules restricting this? If so, what should these rules be and why? Are there some potential benefits for a company if employees socialize with each other? If so, what are they?

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