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Start from scratch? 从头开始

中国日报网 2019-09-24 11:38

Reader question:

Please explain this sentence: “I’m afraid if I give up this job, I’ll have to start from scratch all over again.” Does the speaker want to leave his job? What does “start from scratch” mean exactly?


My comments:

Does the speaker want to leave his job?

I think he or she does, but not without reluctance.

A lot of reluctance, actually.

You see, a lot of people prefer not to change jobs for one reason – they’ll have to start from scratch all over again.

Say, you’ve been at a company for ten years and during that period of time, you’ve been steadily moving up the ladder, so to speak. Not only that, you’ve made many friends and established good working relationships with colleagues.

Will you want to leave for another company, say, in another city, even though you may get paid more?

Well, depending on how much more, I hear you say.

Okay, I understand that. If money is all you care, that kind of make things easy.

But what I’m really getting at is that even if you’re paid much more, will you just roll up your sleeves and leave?

I mean, without any reluctance at all?

A lot of people won’t leave without reluctance. And some of the things that contribute to their reluctance may be as follows, naming just two examples:

*they’ll lose their friends and good working relationships;

*their kids and family, too will have to reacclimatize themselves in a new environment;

In short, they’ll worry that they’d have to start from scratch all over again.

Oh, now we’re back to the point, the point of our discussion: “start from scratch”.

Presumably, “start from scratch” is a term from boxing, scratch being the line scratched with a chalk or stick in the middle of the boxing area in the early days. At the beginning of a match, the two boxers are called to stand on each side of the scratched line, toe to toe, face to face.

Hence, “start from scratch” becomes synonymous with starting from the very beginning.

Now, a boxing match can have many rounds, 15 at the most. At the end of each round, the boxers return to their corner and take a brief rest. Then at the beginning of each new round, they’re brought to the scratched line once again, hence the expression “start from scratch all over again”.

All right, here are media examples of people who “start from scratch”, that is, starting afresh, all anew, from the very beginning:


1. Where the Clinton administration tried to “reinvent government,” the Trump administration plans to rebuild government “starting from scratch.”

In a memo to all department and agency heads to be issued Wednesday morning, Budget Director Mick Mulvaney officially ended the hiring freeze President Trump declared on Jan. 23 and ordered agencies to draft plans for overhauling their operations to improve efficiency and cut costs.

In a Tuesday White House preview for reporters, Mulvaney said the administration was flexible on the eventual outcome but said “it’s no secret that the president thinks we can run the government more efficiently with fewer people.”

The memo, titled “Comprehensive Plan for Reforming the Federal Government and Reducing the Federal Workforce,” instructs agencies to immediately began steps toward “near-term workforce reductions” aligned with Trump’s March 13 reorganization order and March 16 fiscal 2018 budget blueprint, and to develop a plan by June 30 to “maximize employee performance.”

- Trump Team Plans to Rebuild Government ‘Starting from Scratch’, GovExec.com, April 11, 2019.


2. Once more, Mike Krzyzewski will try to conjure a team out of nowhere in the space of a few months, starting basically from scratch, and maybe not even he knows how many chances he really has left.

There’s always pressure at Duke, pressure not only to win but to dominate, on the court and in recruiting, even on social media, and in these days and times that means bringing in extraordinary talent and trying to find a way to get it all to mesh by March.

It worked wonderfully once four years ago and has failed to come together several other times and now, in the unavoidable twilight of Krzyzewski’s career, there’s a building pressure to get it to work again before Krzyzewski steps away, however far off that may be.

He’s now even willing to openly entertain the idea that his time at Duke will someday come to an end, even as he is finally pain-free, months and years removed from the series of surgeries that left him in untold agony the past few seasons, threatening to demonstrate how spry he is at 71.

“You want me to do a cartwheel?” Krzyzewski said, before adding: “I have no plans for leaving. I will leave at some time, but I’m not ready to do that yet.”

- In the unavoidable twilight of Mike Krzyzewski’s Duke career, the Blue Devils start from scratch, again, NewsObserver.com, October 15, 2018.


3. Aisha Adkins would rather have her own place, instead of living with her parents. She would also like a job, a car, a master’s degree and savings. But at 35, a decade after graduating from Georgia Southern University in Statesboro with a specialty in social services, she has had