The time of day? 钟表时刻

2020.08.07

Reader question:

Please explain this passage, particularly "time of day": "After another argument yesterday, nobody answered his posts any more. I think I'll ask him to quit the chat group because he's no longer given the time of day."

My comments:

Oh, this means after yet another argument, an awkward situation has arisen, in which one person (he) finds himself isolated by the group. Nobody answers his posts any more. Hence, the speaker (I) thinks he'll ask that person to quit the chat group lest the situation become too awkward for them all.

Chat groups have awkward arguments all the time and, of course, it's no good. But I'm steering clear of the subject all together because I'm not going to say who's wrong, who's right.

Because I don't know. I'm clueless. I have absolutely no idea.

So I'll stick with the question over "time of day".

Literally, "time of day", an American expression, refers to the time as indicated by the clock. If you ask someone: "What time is it?" They reply: "2:30." You say: "Thank you."

To wit, 2:30 is the time of day.

In the idiom, however, if someone is not given the time of day, it literally means that when they ask what time it is, you do not reply. You ignore the question.

In real life, that's very impolite, of course, for anyone being asked that simple question to act like that. After all, as the fellow says, it doesn't cost anything to tell the time of day.

Hence, the figurative meaning of the idiom, the person being asked has absolutely no respect for the one who asks for what time of day it is. Otherwise, he'd have replied promptly.

At any rate, one has to be very rude, angry or unfriendly to completely ignore a question like that.

All right?

All right, here are media examples of people given or not given "the time of day":

1. Although I have been married for more than 40 years, men who come in contact with me, and especially those who meet my wonderful wife, know that once upon a time I knew the secrets of how to attract highly desirable women.

I still know these secrets, but they are of as much use to me now as E-Z Pass is to a man without a driver's license. Still, I feel that is important for me to share with men less fortunate than I am what I did learn in those few, dare I say precious, years between the end of my first marriage and the beginning of my second — both to women much sought after.

To start with, the most important thing for any man trying to attract women is not what you should do and say, but rather what you shouldn't do and say. Paradoxically, in fact, one of the best ways to attract women is not to show any eagerness at all in going after them.

As the Bible says in one of its proverbs, "A fool's mouth is his destruction." As soon as you open your mouth, there is a high likelihood that you will say something that will be an immediate turn-off to any woman who might have even noticed you.

So, as much as possible, say nothing. Suddenly, instead of being a fool, you will become a "man of mystery." Wherever you are, women will gravitate toward you. You will be the envy of your friends, who have seen woman after woman disappear when they have tried such lines as "Could I have your autograph? I loved you in your latest film."

Unfortunately, sooner or later you will have to say something, and the best approach is to keep it simple. When a woman has noticed you, and is close enough for you to speak to without yelling out, say, "Hi."

That's it.

Not "Hi, beautiful," or "Hi, is this seat taken?" or "Hi, do you come here often?" Just "Hi."

Actually, even though it may feel strange to say it these days, you might have even a better chance if you say, "Hello" rather than "Hi." Remember, in the film Jerry Maguire, after Tom Cruise makes his speech to Renée Zellweger, trying to get her back, she says, "You had me at ‘hello.'" Had Cruise started his speech with "Hi," who knows if she would have given him the time of day.

Most men should probably stop right there, although if you feel you must go on, and start removing the mystery, there are websites that suggest, as one site puts it, "cute pick-up lines." For example, here's a line from that site: "You can't be real. May I pinch you to see if I'm dreaming?"

Yes, go ahead, use that one, and what you might hear is "Yeah, pinch me, and I'll punch you."

- How to Attract Women, by Mark Sherman, PsychologyToday.com, August 1, 2011.

2. Growing up, my parents told me to be humble.

"Don't go around telling everyone what you do and what you've achieved. Let them find out for themselves."

I've taken this advice my whole life, believing I have nothing to prove and no need to show it off. I was taught if I really deserved attention and praise, someone else would share the good news on my behalf and that would garner more respect than if I spread the news myself.

So, how do you deal when you're met with Negative Nancy or Pessimistic Paul, ready with undermining and backhanded compliments? Whether it's at work, a networking event, or even from your cousin twice-removed, it's one of the most frustrating feelings ever. For example:

Nancy: How's work going?

You: It's good, I am working on a big project with a fast-approaching deadline right now so it's a busy time.

Nancy: Oh, that's great to hear they're giving big responsibilities to entry-level employees.

Or this:

Paul: What do you do?

You: I am opening a restaurant downtown.

Paul: That's such a great achievement for a woman.

Ugh. If you're not familiar with responses like this, they're called backhanded compliments. They're words that are strung together to sound like a compliment, only to deviously undermine you in the process.

Anything you follow up with in this conversation is guaranteed to be met with eye rolls or more backhanded compliments. So, how do you deal? How do you respond when your conversation mate can't stop being so rude?

Take a breath.

Remember this: things people say are a reflection of them, not you. When Paul says it's such a great achievement for a woman, it's because he's insecure about the gender gap and still doesn't know how to deal with a go-getting woman. Don't take this comment to heart, just take a breath and know they're coming from a different place.

Smile and move on.

The body has a fight-or-flight mode. To smile and move on is not a flight, but a recognition this person is not worth your time. If a new acquaintance says something you don't like, you don't have to give them the time of day anymore. Excuse yourself and move on.

- How to Deal With Someone Who Keeps Undermining You at Work, Inc.com, by Jackelyn Ho, April 27, 2018.

3. Robert J. Scamman Sr., a retired York police lieutenant who had a competitive streak and passion for life, died unexpectedly on May 19. He was 64.

Mr. Scamman joined the York Police Department as a patrol officer in 1978. He worked patrol for several years and then became an accident reconstructionist. He was promoted to patrol sergeant, then administrative lieutenant around 2001.

Mr. Scamman oversaw the department’s technology and communications systems. He implemented the use of Toughbook laptops in police cruisers, IMC and CAD software, and held various radio positions. He also managed the town’s dispatchers and enhanced 911 system that serves York and Ogunquit.

York Police Chief Charles J. Szeniawski said Scamman was dedicated to his job.

“He served very well,” Szeniawski said. “He did an awful lot for the town and the PD.”

York Police Sergeant Brian Curtin said Wednesday that Scamman had a positive impact in the community.

“He touched a lot of lives,” Curtin said. “In my eyes, he left a great legacy in the community. A lot of people have come forward to say how much of a positive impact he had on their lives. He worked really hard. He was really living life. It was cut too short.”

The lieutenant retired on Nov. 22, 2017, after nearly 40 years on the job.

Mr. Scamman lived in Casco with his wife, Elaine. The couple celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary in March.

His wife laughed and cried Wednesday sharing memories of their life together. She said it was a second marriage for both. They knew each other as teenagers and reconnected in their late thirties.

“He always told the story about how he always liked me and wanted to date me, but I wouldn’t give him the time of day,” his wife said, noting it wasn’t true. “He never talked to me,” she said laughing.

- Feature obituary: Robert Scamman Sr., 64, retired York police lieutenant, marathon runner, PressHerald.com, May 27, 2020.

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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)

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