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Left in the lurch? 陷入困境

中国日报网 2020-12-25 10:57


Reader question:

Please explain the term “left in the lurch”, as in this sentence: Many migrant and daily wage workers have been left in the lurch following lockdowns due to the coronavirus pandemic.

My comments:

This means many temporary workers are put in an awkward, precarious and helpless position.

How come?

Lurch, as noun, refers to a sudden tip or roll to one side. According to the Oxford Dictionary, “lurch” is the word that was used in the 17th century, i.e. seafaring days, to describe “the sudden leaning of a ship to one side”. Today, we still use the word to describe, say, a drunkard walking in the street. The drunkard can’t walk properly. Instead he walks unevenly. He lurches, sways and staggers. Every step he takes looks like a misstep and he threatens to fall at any moment.

If a ship is found lurching in the sea, due to, for example, passengers and goods being packed in one side of the ship or, for that matter, stormy weather, something must be done about it quickly. Otherwise, soon, the ship will capsize and sink.

Hence, metaphorically speaking, if you leave people in a lurch, you leave them in a helpless and precarious situation.

In our example, temporary workers have been left in the lurch obviously because they have lost their jobs. Due to lockdowns, restaurants, for example, are forced to remain closed so all the chefs and waiters are out of work. Daily wage workers, as name suggests, need to get paid on a daily basis in order to put food on the table. In the United States, we know that the Trump Administration, generally speaking, has done a poor job lending a helping hand. Right now, the latest batch of relief is yet to be finalized. And it’s Christmas, time for gift giving and perhaps even a little extravagance at the dinner table.

Well, it’s not going to happen this year for a lot of people. That’s sad.

Let’s hope the incoming Joe Biden administration will be able to right the ship, as they say.

And, hopefully, soon.

Now, media examples of people being “left in a lurch” or “left in the lurch”:

1. Last summer, the oxygen guy stopped making periodic visits to the Lea household in Fridley, but Lloyd Lea, 73, didn't realize it because his breathing equipment worked just fine. Then, when one of his oxygen bottles wouldn't stay filled, Lea tried to get in touch with his supplier, Healthworks Home Medical.

No one answered the company’s phone. When he contacted his lung clinic and Medicare, which was paying Healthworks, Lea was alarmed that no one seemed to know what to do.

Healthworks Home Medical’s owner, Chad Jellum of Kilkenny, Minn., did not return calls from Whistleblower. The company apparently went out of business without notifying its patients or Medicare, according to Renee Wehr, lung specialist at Lea’s clinic in Coon Rapids. In 17 years of working with lung patients, Wehr said, she has never seen an oxygen company go under.

The sudden disappearance of Healthworks Home Medical has left an unknown number of patients wondering whether they’ll be left gasping if their oxygen machines conk out. Other oxygen suppliers have hesitated to take these patients because of Medicare’s reimbursement policy, which requires five years of service but provides monthly payments for only three years.

“You really want to help them,” said Colleen Reisdorf, respiratory care manager with Reliable Medical Supply, which has taken three former Healthworks patients. “Some of these people, you’d almost have to take them on for free. It’s a sticky situation.”

After Whistleblower contacted Medicare, a representative of the agency’s ombudsman’s office contacted the Leas. Medicare spokeswoman Ellen Griffith said the agency will make sure no oxygen patients are left in the lurch.

“We are geared up to intervene very quickly to get a beneficiary linked up to a supplier,” Griffith said.

- Lung patients are left in the lurch, StarTribune.com, December 21, 2010.

2. Every year, Americans know that they must file their taxes on a deadline or face serious consequences. They have the right to expect that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will hold up its end of the bargain by promptly and professionally processing returns and issuing refunds.

However, right now the IRS is lagging badly behind, with over 3 million pieces of unopened mail and one million unprocessed tax returns in their hands. This year has posed a hardship for millions of Americans, and delays and confusion in the agency that handles our money and taxes are only compounding that stress.

During my time as North Dakota Tax Commissioner, I learned firsthand the importance of quickly and efficiently processing tax returns. When tax payments sit in envelopes, their value depreciates and funding for critical public priorities is held up.

President Donald Trump came to government promising that he would bring competence by running agencies like businesses. Unfortunately for the American people, he’s been running the IRS like one of his businesses. As a result, Americans are in the dark about their tax returns and still waiting on stimulus checks.

To be fair, the IRS has been underfunded, understaffed, and struggling to do its job for years. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin promised to run the IRS like a business and fix the inefficiencies.

At Mnuchin’s confirmation hearing, he acknowledged the agency’s lack of resources and enforcement of the tax laws. He promised to “adequately staff and modernize the IRS” and to “work with the Commissioner and Congress to improve the performance of the IRS, including advocating for resources.” Mnuchin didn’t keep this promise.

Instead, our already struggling system was delivered a critical blow by Covid-19. As the United States dealt with the ramifications of a global pandemic, the IRS floundered under the weight of their responsibilities.

In addition to the unusual tax season, with multiple pushed deadlines, the agency was also tasked with distributing Covid-19 stimulus aid to the American people. Combined with delays and attacks on the U.S. Postal Service, the lack of leadership within the IRS and Trump administration is currently on full display.

Like other Trump administration actions, the mismanagement of the IRS has a disproportionate impact on working Americans. Study after study shows that the IRS audits poor Americans at a higher rate than rich Americans – a state of affairs not likely to change without additional resources to support high-level IRS investigations.

People who rely on money from their tax returns to provide housing, food, and health care for their families have been left in the lurch. The failure to get refunds into the hands of working families during a global pandemic that has cost millions of Americans their jobs is inexcusable.

- IRS tax-refund backlog adds to Americans' hardship during Covid-19 pandemic, by Heidi Heitkamp, November 25, 2020.

3. It’s more than a feline.

President-elect Joe Biden and first lady Jill have reportedly discussed getting a cat when they and their two dogs move into the White House on Jan. 20. Radio icon Howard Stern — whose wife Beth is the North Shore Animal League spokeswoman — would like to help the first family expand.

“President-elect Biden said that he’s going to get a cat for the White House; he’s going to adopt a cat, I want him to adopt one of our cats,” Stern said on SIRIUSXM Monday.

The 66-year-old radio host compared his home to “a Disney movie” where animals from all different backgrounds and in various stages of life wander about freely. He wants the Bidens to take one.

“We would be honored, we have such cute kittens and adult cats, cats that need homes, we want to do that,” Stern said. “Beth told me to say that and I’m in full agreement.”

The Sterns, who married in 2008, started fostering cats in their Hamptons home in 2014. Roughly 200 cats per year reportedly reside in that house, from which the SIRIUSXM host has been broadcasting since the pandemic began. He has frequently blasted President Trump — a former regular on “The Howard Stern Show” — during those programs.

“I am all in on Joe Biden,” Stern declared in April, to the chagrin of many of his listeners.
Biden fractured his right foot while playing with his dog Major over the weekend and will have to wear a walking boot for several weeks as the injury heals. Major will be the first shelter dog to inhabit the White House. President Trump — who insists without evidence that the election was rigged and does not want to leave 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue — was the first president in over a century to live at that address without a pet.

Stern also gave a half-hearted apology to fans who were left in a lurch over the weekend after the shock jock said he’d decided between retiring and renewing his contract at SIRIUS-XM — then cut to the Journey song “Don’t Stop Believin,” which is how the popular HBO show the Sopranos concluded its six-season long run in 2007.

Stern, who still has not told listeners what 2021 holds for him, said on Monday that that gag got more emails than anything else he’s done since starting his radio career in 1976.

- Howard Stern would be ‘honored’ if president-elect Joe Biden adopts one of his cats, NYDailyNews.com, November 30, 2020.


About the author:

Zhang Xin is Trainer at chinadaily.com.cn. He has been with China Daily since 1988, when he graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University. Write him at: zhangxin@chinadaily.com.cn, or raise a question for potential use in a future column.

(作者:张欣 编辑:丹妮)


Arm twisting tactics? 强制手段


False hope? 虚假的希望


Shouting match? 高声争论


Not in the cards? 不可能发生


Pulling their hair out 焦虑