Career hits a bump?

中国日报网 2013-02-19 14:01



Career hits a bump?

Reader question:

Please explain this sentence: You should stay on top of your finances and keep a cash reserve on hand in case your career hits a bump.

What “bump” exactly?

My comments:

In short, they’re telling you to save for a rainy day.

First of all to stay on top is to be in control. To stay on top of your finances, therefore, is to remain in comfortable command of money matters in all situations, i.e. to never run out of money.

That’s why they’re advising you to keep a cash reserve (put money aside in reserve regularly) in case your career hits a bump.

Your career hits a bump?

That’s when for instance you miss an opportunity to get a raise. Or you miss a promotion or lose a job.

Or some other similar setback.

Here your career is being likened to a car hitting, say, a speed bump on the road.

Speed bump?

That’s an artificially raised ridge across the road designed to force vehicles to slow down. It’s prevalent in residential areas, especially near the parking lot.

When your career is likened to a car hitting a bump, whether a speed bump or a rock, it takes a proverbial jolt and you’re forced to hit the brake and slow down. In other words, at that point your career won’t be moving ahead as fast and smoothly as before.

Got it?

Alright, bumps on the career road are, metaphorically speaking, many and numerous, as often times things don’t work out exactly how we envision them to work out. That’s why on money matters, it’s important to put a little money in the bank now and then – saving for a rainy day.

For instance, we may incur an injury that prevents us from going to work for a prolonged period, six months, say. If we have no savings in the bank, we may run into financial problems because without work, no more money will be coming in. If, on the other hand, we had been saving a few hundred dollars per month before the injury, that money would come in handy now.

With that case reserve, we’ll be able to weather the financial storm, so to speak till we return to work and draw an income once again.

I may be accused of oversimplification here of course. One, there are all sorts of ways to save and invest in order for our hard earned money to maintain value and keep growing whether we work or not. Two, one’s career may hit all sorts of bumps, many unimaginable and much more in number than I have listed just now. Plus, young people won’t hear what I have to say about savings – for all that I know, they’d like to ask for me to give them more money than they can spend first (then we can start talking about savings).

So therefore, let’s take a collective retreat and be perfectly clear about (and in agreement with) one thing. And that is, to hit a bump is to take a jolt, suffer a temporary setback and slow down in speed, whatever we’re doing.

Here are media examples of bumps in the road, both literally and otherwise:

1. HSBC’s closely-watched emerging market index indicates that manufacturing growth will slow sharply following a record first quarter.

Monetary tightening in China and Brazil has offset growth in the BRIC nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China) where India and Russia remained relatively strong, HSBC Chief Economist Stephen King told CNBC Wednesday.

“Although output remains above the long-term average, it is below the average seen before the financial crisis,” King said. “This easing reflects a moderation in the rate of growth of new orders, especially for manufacturing exports.”

Austerity measures and the expected slowdown in the developed markets will see world trade fall, he said.

“We are in a new phase of global economic development,” King said. “Export gains for companies in the emerging world have failed to sustain the momentum seen in earlier quarters. The stellar recovery in economic activity across most of the emerging markets seen since the first half of 2009 finally hit a bump in the road.”

- Emerging Markets Hit Bump in the Road: HSBC,, July 7, 2010.

2. Serious safety concerns are being raised by owners of late-model Dodge Ram trucks — in complaints to government — over a problem automotive experts and consumers have dubbed the “death wobble.”

“We hit a pothole in the road and the truck just started shaking violently,” said Brantford, Ont.’s Dennis Warren, owner of a 2007 Dodge Ram 2500.

“We ended up on shoulder of the road — and that was during rush hour traffic in the morning.”

Warren is among several owners from Canada and the U.S. who’ve reported they are scared to drive their vehicles — after experiencing violent, uncontrollable shaking in their trucks’ steering system, triggered when their vehicles hit a bump in the road. However, Chrysler has concluded there is “no safety issue” related to this issue.

Federal investigations are underway in both Canada and the U.S. over Dodge Ram tie rod failures — an essential part of the steering system — which experts say may result from the damage caused by the severe shaking.

- Dodge Ram steering under investigation, CBC News, May 17, 2011.

3. GOP suggestions that President Obama had qualified the deaths of four Americans as a “bump in the road” were “desperate and offensive,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said Monday.

Republicans from Mitt Romney to Newt Gingrich have assailed Obama for saying in a “60 Minutes” interview that aired Sunday that recent protests in the Middle East were but a “bump in the road” to democracy. Some Republican said the choice of words belittles the deaths of Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans in Libya on the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.

“The president was referring to the transformations in the region,” Carney said at his press briefing Monday. “There is a certain rather desperate attempt to grasp at words and phrases here to find political advantage. And in this case, that’s profoundly offensive.”

In the interview, Obama was asked if the recent anti-American protests in Egypt, Libya and other countries had made him rethink the administration’s support for the revolutions that have rocked the Middle East over the past year and a half.

“I think it was absolutely the right thing for us to do to align ourselves with democracy, universal rights a notion that people have to be able to participate in their own governance,” Obama said. “But I was pretty certain and continue to be pretty certain that there are going to be bumps in the road because, you know, in a lot of these places, the one organizing principle has been Islam. The one part of society that hasn’t been controlled completely by the government. There are strains of extremism, and anti-Americanism, and anti-Western sentiment.”

- White House defends Obama’s ‘bump in the road’ comment,, September 24, 2012.




About the author:

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



Obama hit with friendly fire

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Game face?

Child in a candy store?

(作者张欣 中国日报网英语点津 编辑:陈丹妮)




















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