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« Allen? Are you deaf, or are you simply on a different astral plane this morning? »
I poked my head out of my cubicle. All around me my coworkers were staring straight ahead at their terminals - a habit we all fell into whenever Rubinek decided to berate someone, out of fear that he might catch our eye and turn his poisonous attention to us.
« I didn’t hear the question, Burt, » I said. 5
« So you are deaf. »
« I was just preoccupied with - »
« I WILL REPEAT THE QUESTION ONCE AGAIN: What time is designated as start of business in this company? »
« Eight-thirty, » I said quietly. 10
« Very good. Very good. Eight-three-oh. We are at our desks at eight-thirty, ready to make our first calls at eight-forty-five. And what time did you walk in this morning? »
« Around eight-thirty. »
« Wrong! You arrived here at eight-thirty-six. How many minutes late were you? »
« There was a delay in the subway. Someone jumped under a train at Thirty-fourth 15 Street. I think he used to work here. »
Nervous titters from a few of my neighboring coworkers. When they saw Rubinek’s face go crimson (a sure sign he was about to declare war), they immediately refocused their eyes on their computer screens. He approached my cubicle and lowered his voice to a near whisper. 20
« A comedian, huh? »
« I was just trying to lighten things up, Burt. »
« My name is Mr. Rubinek. You were six minutes late this morning. And you were insubordinate. »
« It was a joke, Mr. Rubinek. » 25
« I didn’t hire you to do stand-up. I hired you to push the product. And to show up not around eight-thirty, but at eight-thirty. Your quota this week is now eighteen units. »
« Oh, for Christ’s sake... »
« You don’t like it, there’s the door. » He glanced at the big digital clock that hung on the main wall. 8:44:52. Everyone else fell silent, watching the seconds tick down. 30
« Right people..., » Burt Rubinek shouted. The clock turned 8:45. A loud bell sounded. The selling day had begun. Suddenly the room erupted into babble as all 120 telesales operators began chasing the first sale of the day, everyone fearfully conscious of the weekly quota they needed to reach in order to report back to work next Monday.
Rubinek turned back to me and said: « Eighteen units by close of business 35 tomorrow, or you»re out of here. »
« That’s not fair and you know it, » I said.
He gave me a wall-to-wall smirk. « You’re right. It’s not fair. I do know it. And I don’t care. »
Abridged from The Job, by Douglas Kennedy, 1998.
NOTE AUX CANDIDATS Les candidats traiteront le sujet sur la copie qui leur sera fournie et veilleront à : - respecter l’ordre des questions et reporter la numérotation sur la copie (numéro de l’exercice et, le cas échéant, la lettre repère ; ex. : 1 a, 1 b, etc.) ; - faire précéder les citations éventuellement demandées du numéro de ligne dans le texte.
I - GENERAL COMPREHENSION
Choose the correct answer :
1- The scene takes place
a) in a firm b) in a garage c) in a train station.
2- The conversation is between
a) two people b) three people c) four people.
3- Who was late that day?
a) Burt b) Allen c) Mr Rubinek.
4- The narrator goes to work
a) by bus b) by car c) by train.
5- The narrator is
a) Burt’s friend b) Burt’s employee c) Burt’s employer.
6- The two characters are
a) arguing b) chatting c) negotiating.
II - DETAILED COMPREHENSION
A- Are the following statements right (R) or wrong (VV) ? Justify by quoting from the text and indicate the line(s).
1) People are afraid of Rubinek.
2) The narrator knows when he arrived at work precisely.
3) He has an excuse for being late.
4} People around the narrator keep watching him.
5) The narrator is half an hour late.
6) The workers are under pressure to sell.
B- Pick out sentences showing that :
1) the narrator keeps his self-control. (1 answer)
2) Mr Rubinek is getting angry. (1 answer)
3) Mr Rubinek blames the narrator for not obeying. (1 answer)
4) Mr Rubinek wants to sack the narrator. (2 answers)
5) Mr Rubinek is fully conscious of his power. (1 answer)
C- From the following list, write down three adjectives which best describe Mr Rubinek.
1- bossy 4- furious
2- friendly 5- sympathetic
3- understanding 6- bad-tempered
D- In the text find and copy down the equivalent of each of the following words or expressions.
1- colleagues :
2- every time :
3- red :
4- concentrated again :
5- to make things less serious :
6- Just :
Choose one of the following subjects.
Two of the narrator’s colleagues talk about their impressions and feelings after the incident. Write their conversation. (200 words)
What qualities are required to be a good employee ? Give examples. (200 words)