"Jose's Special Gift" from Edcon Publishing.

Jose was exhausted, having worked hard since early morning. While his friends spent Saturday having fun and enjoying themselves, Jose was at his job. He saw Marie and Alice through the window as they ran laughingly across the street. Jose thought, "They must be going to the movies." Then, instead of feeling bad, a pleasant smile crossed his lips. "When I get paid tonight, I will have enough money to buy the gift."

It was hard work in the furniture store. He always came home exhausted, sometimes too tired to eat. Jose remembered that day not too long ago when he saw the sign in the window. Large letters announced: "Boy Wanted - Part-Time Work." His heart raced and he could hardly speak when he asked for the job. Now Jose felt that he had been in Mister Berger's furniture store forever.

The money was needed at home. Jose's mother was a widow. His father had died when Jose was only five. It was not easy for a widow, for Mama had to be both mother and father to her children. She did without many things to buy clothing for the children. She never complained to them, but Jose would hear her crying at night. The sound cut him like a hot knife.

Jose had two younger brothers and an older sister. At times he seemed like one of the children; at times he was like their father.

There never seemed to be enough money, since the four children always seemed to need a dollar to take to school or to buy things for class. When Jose wanted to get a job to help out, Mama said "No." Finally, he promised it would not hurt his school work, and Mama said "Yes."

Now Jose spent afternoons and Saturdays in the furniture store working for Mister Berger. He cleaned the floor and packed and unpacked each chair, sofa, and bed. He put a knob on every drawer and wheels on all the carts. He had to breathe dust and dirt as he worked. "If only the clock would move faster," he thought. Mister Berger was a tough boss. He never gave Jose a minute's rest. Jose had to get to the store on time and he could not leave a moment early. There was always something to do.

Sometimes Jose would cover scratches with a furniture crayon, using a pine color for pine wood and a maple color for maple wood. Jose liked to color wood. It was easier than putting knobs on drawers and better than having to pack and unpack or move a sofa. Anything was better than working in the hot, damp cellar.

But as time went by, Mister Berger felt a liking for the boy. "Learn all you can about furniture for you don't want to sweep floors all your life," he once said. Then he put his arm across Jose's shoulders and started to tell how sofas, tables, and beds are made. He spoke about nails and how wood is fastened. He pointed to each piece. and told the boy the name of the wood, repeating every word slowly. Soon Jose learned to recognize woods like maple, cherry, and pine.

Now it was closing time at the furniture store, and when Jose was paid, he finally had enough money. He stopped at the dress store on the way home, the one with the window filled with all kinds of dresses. He had often passed by, but tonight he would buy the best one for Mama. How happy she would be, for on Sunday she would look better than the rich women who had many fancy dresses to wear. Jose chose a dress with shiny ribbons and glittering beads on it. It was put into a handsome gift box.

Even though Jose was exhausted, he ran home. The way seemed longer than ever. He was out of breath as he raced up four flights of stairs. He put the box on the kitchen table and sang, "Happy Birthday." The surprised brothers and sister joined in. Everyone was curious to see what was in the box with the big bow.

As Mama lifted out the dress she thought, "What a funny-looking dress." Then, for a moment, she was angry that her son had spent so much money on a gift, a present she did not like and did not want. The money could have bought so many things they really needed. The childrens' shoes were worn, and Jose's pants weren't long enough for him. How they would like to have the television set repaired! It would be good to see all the stations clearly.

But in a second, as she saw the pride in her son's eyes, Mama's frown changed to a
smile. Tears fell lightly on her cheek while she pulled Jose to her and covered him with kisses.

"It is a beautiful dress, Jose, just what I really wanted. I will wear it proudly for everyone in the neighborhood to know how wonderful you are. Oh, how I wish Daddy were with us today to see this special present."

Jose forgot both the long hours in the store and seeing his friends at play while he worked. He felt joy. The world was such a warm, lovely place, for Mama was happy on her birthday.

Comprehension Check:

1. Jose got his job in the furniture store from _____
a. an ad in the newspaper.
b. his teacher.
c. a sign in the window.
d. a friend who worked in the store.

2.Jose wanted to work to earn money _____
a. for a baseball glove.
b. to quit school.
c. to rent a new apartment.
d. to help his family.

3. Jose worked in the furniture store _____
a. after school and on Saturdays.
b. before school and on Sundays.
c. during school hours.
d. whenever there was a school holiday.

4. One type of work that Jose did was _______
a. to drive the delivery truck.
b. to put knobs on drawers.
c. to sell furniture.
d. to collect money that people owed.

5. Mister Berger ______
a. was an easy boss.
b. felt a liking for Jose.
c. never came to the store.
d. never paid Jose on time.

6. One type of work that Jose liked was _______
a. packing furniture.
b. sweeping the floor.
c. coloring wood.
d. moving furniture.

7. Jose bought Mama a gift ______
a. for her birthday.
b. for her new job.
c. for Mother's Day.
d. for Christmas.

8. Jose bought Mama a fancy dress because he wanted her ______
a. to look younger.
b. to be happy.
c. to find a new husband.
d. to admire him.

9. Another name for this story could be ______
a. "Jose's Job."
b. "Working in a Furniture Store."
c. "Mama Raises a Family."
d. "Jose Shows His Love."

10. This story is mainly about ______
a. working in a furniture store.
b. a mother understanding her son's love.
c. the difficult life of a widow.
d. giving up school for a job.

How to get a job after school, from Youtube:

Grammar Interactive Courses

Video Lessons PRACTICE GRAMMAR, LISTENING, READING, VOCABULARY all levels - open online access


Vocabulary and Idioms - all levels

Free Computer and Upper Level English courses