IELTS Cue Card Sample 471 - Describe a time when you got into trouble

IELTS Speaking Part 2: IELTS Cue Card/ Candidate Task Card.

Describe a time when you got into trouble.

Please say:

  • what it was
  • how you got into it
  • how you handled it

and explain how you felt about it.

Sample Answer 1:
Well, getting into trouble and then surviving from the trouble is a basic human characteristic. I usually avoid chaos or trouble and that’s why I do not have to face a lot of them. However, I was in a great trouble when I was 11 years old and this event still gives me the nightmare.

It was probably 1999 when I went to visit my grandparents in (…village name…) with my parents. It was a very remote area and we had to travel for more than 11 hours to reach there. I lived with my parents in (…town/ city name…) but most of my uncles and their families lived in the village. As this was a joint family, I had so many cousins and I loved to visit this countryside for that. My parents were busy on a hot summer day during our stay there and I got the chance the play with my cousins. We played several games and got quite tired and then all of a sudden one of my cousins proposed that we should all go to the river and swim. I was bit confused as I did not know how to swim. However, one of my cousins convinced me that I should always stay near them and should not try to go further in the river by any means.

We did not inform anyone and four of us walked for about 20 minutes to reach the river bank. It was a summer noon and the river looked very placid to me. I went down the river and was trying to stay as near to the land as possible. However, my cousins were all swimming and were having fun. I do not know how but all of a sudden I felt that I was in deep water and two of my cousins were trying to pull me back. I remember that I was struggling a lot to get closer to them but the sudden waves were forcing me far deeper. That time I was quite frightened and was shouting for help. Two of my cousins went to get some help and luckily two adults came for the rescue.

I would say these two good-natured unknown people saved my life that day. I was too young and too intimidated to handle the situation myself. I would say I got lucky that day.

It’s quite tough to explain how I actually felt that day. I was frightened and was completely taken aback by the surprise trouble. It was surely a near death experience and even though I am a good swimmer now, I remain very cautious whenever I get into the water.

Model Answer 2:
Hmmm… it depends on what you mean by trouble! I can think of an example which was very troublesome at the time, even now I look back and cringe in embarrassment as I recall and relive the incident. I shouldn’t really though! With the distance of time, and looking at it from a different perspective, I probably got it rather out of proportion at the time.

So, I’m going to try and tell you what the situation was together with how I got into it. How I handled it (badly), and how I felt about it.

So, I must have been about 13 years old at the time. This can be a bit of an awkward and self-conscious age, which is why I found the situation so difficult. What happened was, I had to catch a train to somewhere. I can’t even remember where I was going. I went down to my local railway station, and bought a ticket from the station manager at the ticket office. I then made my way down a long tunnel towards the platform. I found I had a few minutes to spare, so I decided to take a little detour to go to the loo so I would be more comfortable for my journey. There was a lady's public convenience down another dark passageway, which was at right angles to the main tunnel. I wandered down, and as I went into the lavatory block, I noticed the main entrance door clanged shut behind me. I didn’t think much of it at the time. I just nipped into one of the cubicles, and then after I’d finished and washed my hands I went to leave. I approached the big, solid, metal door, and found to my horror it was locked shut. It didn’t even have a door handle. It was a really heavy-duty secure door, almost like you’d expect to see in a bank vault. For some inexplicable reason, once it slammed closed behind me, it couldn’t be opened again other than with a key, and only from the other side! I was locked in, that door wasn’t going to open again for me ever. Uh oh!

To begin with, I was a bit irritated, but not really worried. I thought someone else was bound to walk by at some point, and they’d spot the door was locked and ask for it to be opened. It was a bit inconvenient, but it was hardly the end of the world. This didn’t happen. Quite a few minutes passed. Then a few more. I started to feel a bit anxious. The station master was too far away to see or hear me, and because the lavatory block was at the end of a side passage, it began to dawn on me that really, very few people would bother to go down it. I looked around. I was essentially in a dark, locked room. There was a single window with bars across it, but it was really high up. What’s more, because of the way the station was designed, this window actually overlooked a street that was the opposite side to the station entrance. From the street, even assuming I could attract someone’s attention, it wouldn’t be at all obvious where my voice was coming from, or how on earth to get to the space I was trapped in. It wasn’t even a very well-used walkway, I had no way of telling if any people were using it – the window was far too high up for me to see out of it. Pretty soon, I heard the rumble of the train I was supposed to have caught as it pulled into the station, stopped and then pulled away again. Fifteen minutes later, I heard the next train come and go. It was time to act if I was going to get out by nightfall!

Cautiously, I scrambled up onto one of the toilets, and hanging on to piping, managed to get as close as I could to the barred window. It must have been left open, so I had some chance of making enough noise to get some attention. To begin with, I was a bit shy about shouting out. I tried a few tentative ‘hellos’ and ‘excuse me’, no reaction, nothing. It would have been a quiet street anyway, and I had no way of knowing if there were any passers-by at all there in any case, let alone whether they could hear me, as I couldn’t see a thing! Eventually, my fear of being shut in there all day and maybe all night too got the better of me. I just screamed ‘help, help!’ After what seem like an age, I finally heard an almighty clunk as a big old-fashioned key turned in the lock of the door behind me. The station master who’d sold me a ticket about an hour ago had come to my rescue. I climbed down from the toilet, I was relieved to be let out, but I was also mortified. I could have sworn he was smirking a bit, laughing at my plight – though now I look back it probably was a bit comical, and it was hardly his fault I’d got into this predicament!  I mumbled thanks rather sheepishly, without making eye contact, and raced past him to catch the next train and to get away from there as fast as I could. I never did find out who it was who heard my cries, worked out I was in the station and went to alert the station manager to my plight.

So how did I feel about it? Well, at the time I found the situation excruciating. I was so embarrassed that the station manager had had to come and rescue me that I avoided using the railway station for months afterwards, even though it was the one nearest to where I lived. I preferred to walk an extra couple of miles to the next stop and so avoid having to see him again. Even when I did start to use my local railway station again I never, ever used the public conveniences, just in case…

So, whilst I’d be the first to concede that getting locked in a public lavatory isn’t the worst of troubles to befall someone, it certainly felt like a big deal at the time. I was literally red-faced, as my cheeks were burning with embarrassment at the time when I was rescued. For ages, afterwards, whenever I thought about it I blushed again. If this same situation happened to me now I’d probably just laugh it off… After all, it was hardly life-threatening, and I’m not the first or last person to get locked in a toilet block I’m sure! I suppose also in truth I’d probably also have a mobile phone with me nowadays (this story happened pre the advent of mobile phones) so it would be rather easier to summon help more quickly too! Even so, whenever I’m using a public loo in an unfamiliar area these days, I always have a little look at the doors and locks before I commit to entering alone… you can’t be too careful as I’ve learned from bitter personal experience!

[Written by - Lucy Marris (2016):  Careers Adviser (UK), TEFL teacher (Vietnam) ]

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