Have you ever been saved in the "nick" of time?

In the nick of time! There are still (I hope) some of us who remember those old time serials where the damsel in distress was saved by the strong handsome hero “in the nick of time.” Usually she was tied to a railroad track or to a log in a saw mill and screamed while her impending death came ever closer. Today, we might expect to actually see her cut in half by the sawmill blade or flattened by the freight train. We would call it reality cinema. Years ago, much more was left to the imagination in movies than is the case today. A nick indicates a very small unit, hence its use in conjunction with the concept of time. Dictionary.com defines the phrase “in the nick of time to mean: “at the right or vital moment, usually at the last possible moment.” The word derives from an older word “niche” which means a small part of something, as in a niche market. Thus, the phrase really combines too concepts, that of time and that of good fortune.

Another familiar example or case goes like this. An indigenous person (usually referred to as an Indian in the Old West) was about to scalp a settler (who was actually trespassing) when out of the blue, the US cavalry arrived “in the nick of time” to effect a rescue operation that obviously had not been well planned. Regardless that this may have happened many times, the settlers went on with their business as did the indigenous people. Can you imagine such a scene being played today in the movies? Time passes on and cowboy and Indian movies have become a relic of the past.

We still have last minute rescues; in fact, this idea is a staple of the cinema. However, the corniness of old screen rescues (not to mention the cast of villains) is today very different. Thus, while some things change with time, other things do not. In the nick of time is probably a phase with many more years of life left in it. When was the last time, you used this phrase or heard it used? When was the last time it had any relevance for you? Have you ever been “saved” in the nick of time?

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