又中又英——Those were gut-wrenching days.

  Hong Kong went through a trying time during the Sars outbreak in 2003. Those were gut-wrenching days. I had just returned to Hong Kong from the US to start a new job as head of a news department. People were dying on the mainland and in Hong Kong. I was torn between returning to the US and sticking it out here. I decided to stick it out here because Hong Kong people stuck together as a community to overcome Sars. They did not fight for rice, toilet paper, hand sanitizers, and other things. There was no price-gouging of facemasks by shops. And supermarkets did not price-gouge. Even though Sars was a killer disease, it brought out the best in Hong Kong people.

  The new coronavirus is less of a killer disease than Sars but it has brought out the worst in Hong Kong people. Some people bought far more toilet paper, rice, facemasks, and hand sanitizers than they need, making it impossible for others to buy them. Greedy shop owners are price-gouging facemasks. Supermarkets have taken advantage of the panic caused by the coronavirus to price-gouge not only hand sanitizers but also milk, canned foods, and other things. The expression "trying time" means a difficult time. If something is "gut-wrenching", it means it makes people feel upset or worried. If you are "torn between" two things, it means you find it difficult to choose between the two.

  To "stick it out" means to continue to the end of something that is difficult. To "stick together" means to support and help each other. To "price gouge", as I have explained before, means to charge customers too much for something. Major supermarkets, which should be sticking together with the people during these trying times, are price-gouging instead. One well-known supermarket chain I went to a few days ago was charging almost twice the normal price for a bottle of hand sanitizer. It was also charging far more for skimmed milk, canned soups, and frozen foods. Why is the Consumer Council not doing anything?

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  香港二○○三年沙士爆發時,經歷了艱難的時刻(trying time)。那真是撕心裂肺(gut-wrenching)的日子。當時我剛剛從美國回流香港,開始新的工作,擔任一個新聞部門的主管。在內地和香港陸續有人死亡。我左右為難(torn between),不知該回去美國,抑或在這兒挺下去(sticking it out)才好。我最終選擇了在這兒堅持下去(stick it out),因為香港人團結一致(stuck together),整個社群共同戰勝沙士。他們沒有搶米、廁紙、酒精搓手液或其他東西;商店也沒有坐地起價(price-gouging),炒賣口罩;超市亦沒有哄抬物價(price-gouge)。即使沙士是個致命的疾病,但它帶出了香港人最美好的一面。

  新型冠狀病毒沒有沙士那麼致命,但它卻帶出了香港人最差的一面。有些人瘋買廁紙、米、口罩和酒精搓手液,遠多於他們自己真正需用的,以致其他人都買不到。貪心的店主都在哄抬口罩的價格(price-gouging facemasks)。

  新冠病毒疫情引來恐慌,超市也在佔盡便宜,坐地起價(price-gouge)的不但是酒精搓手液,還有奶、罐頭食物及其他貨物。習語trying time就是艱難的時刻。若某事是gut-wrenching,意即那是令人極之憂傷或擔憂的。若你是“torn between”two things,意即你感到左右為難,不知該選擇哪一樣。To“stick it out”意即在困難的處境中堅持到底。To“stick together”就是團結一致,互相支持和幫助大家。To“price gouge”,正如我之前解釋過的,就是哄抬物價。大型超市好應與市民同心協力(sticking together)共渡難關(trying times),倒在這時候趁機坐地起價(price-gouging)。我幾日前到過一個知名的連鎖超市,一樽酒精搓手液的標價竟接近平常價格的兩倍;脫脂奶、罐頭湯以及急凍食品亦都貴多了。為何消費者委員會甚麼也不做?中譯:七刻

Michael Chugani 褚簡寧


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