asleep at the switch

asleep at the switch  {adj. phr.}
1. Asleep when it is one's duty to move a railroad switch for cars to go on the right track.
The new man was asleep at the switch and the two trains crashed.
2.  {informal}
Failing to act promptly as expected, not alert to an opportunity.
When the ducks flew over, the boy was asleep at the switch and missed his shot.
Categories: adjective informal

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