Hurt their feelings then give them this book to read

Forty-eight years ago, I enjoyed a year of flatting in North Sydney. I was adolescently cruising along by ?pretending to work? with the main purpose of generally enjoying too much partying and wasting my life. One night I had an epiphany. I decided enough is enough and that I wanted a decent future. I returned to my city of birth to complete my Higher School Certificate by a combination of night school and correspondence.

I had to support myself and fortunately I landed a job as a drain-layer?s labourer for a plumbing firm which had secured tendered contracts to lay the drains for abattoirs, country schools and government establishments in and around inland NSW.

We toured and lived in a red converted double decker bus which we parked preferably next to a pub or next to a boarding house. We travelled from job to job with a backhoe and a 1964 EH Ute; some projects lasted two weeks, others months . I remember one of the Ute?s many eccentricities was the need to pump the brakes three or four times before she conceded to stop.
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Having just emerged from an office background – to say I was a ?bit soft? was an understatement and unlike most newcomers who were afforded nicknames, I was not given one. I was just ?new guy? or ?hey you there? while being looked at sideways with amused grins or smirks.

I got stuck into the job with tenacity, developing skills to accommodate the lifting and laying of large earthenware or concrete lined steel pipes, stormwater concrete pipes and manholes, sometimes in deep trenches three feet deeper than my head and without any timber shoring. It was hard, dangerous yakka, but it increased my internal strength and fitness. I became hard and resilient.

Other workmates had nicknames like ?Brough? because he wouldn?t shut up about his motor bike; another was called ?Tank? because he weighed about 20 stone – he also drove the back hoe and everyone was nice and respectful to ?Tank.? When looking up at him astride ?his Case 580B tractor? from below in a 6 foot deep trench – it was considered a very smart idea to be convivial! Another was called ?Brookesy? – an affectionate matey extension to Brookes; he had a softer nickname because after all, he was ?the boss?.

About 4 months into the job, over a beer alone with ?Brookesy? I asked why I had not yet been given a nickname? He finished his beer laughed and said ?I don?t know, I guess they haven?t worked you out yet; I?ve gotta go to bed?

For several weeks I continued to be ?no name? just ?hey you there? or similar. I jokingly accepted the smirks and tried to dish out as good as I got. I still wondered at the back of my mind when or how I would earn ?the respect? of a nickname.

In the height of a 40-degree Australian summer, I was down in a 5 ft trench at an abattoir extension bolting up flanged steel pipes in the pungent, damp earth, when I was abruptly called up to the surface. I parallel-bar lifted my way up and out of the trench with the putrid abattoir taste in my nostrils and mouth and therefore not in the best of moods. I was confronted by a portly red-faced man dressed in a suit and tie loudly demanding that I show him my union card.

I have to say that I saw red and lost my temper and informed ?the gentleman? in the most impolite way, that ?we bloody well don?t belong to or believe in Unions you thieving scumbag. Stick your Union card where the sun don?t shine and bugger off out of here, NOW!?

The Union man took off as fast as he could, shaking his fist as he drove off at high speed in his flash car never to be seen by us again. I suddenly became aware of raucous laughter around me and realized that that the building site crew in my vicinity, chippies, plumbers and my team, were watching and laughing. A few patted me on the shoulders, then we all went back to work as it was too darn hot to loiter.

I lost ?no nickname? and after a few days became ?Sky? but mainly ?Skymax?. It felt great.

I now recall more vividly the mate-ship we shared. Even though I have worked with many people over the years, those were the workmates from my working life that I now most highly value. Now I can again chuckle about the ribbings ? like the time when Brookesy slipped and fell into a full septic tank. Immediately ?Tank? laughingly commented, ?hey Skymax even you couldn?t talk your way out of that one?! Another time Tank seriously informed me over a beer ?hey, if my head was on your body we would have all the Sheilas chasing me?!

Why am I sharing this small tale you may ask? After all, it is acknowledged that we Oilers are now experiencing or have been through much more difficult times.

A little while ago I read Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules for Life and came across a paragraph describing his early life, a month of hard work and stuck with his nickname ?Howdy.? Immediately I was taken back to my early years and reflected on how that mate-ship helped me to decide to be the man I aspired to be.

This type of mate-ship tests your mettle – to see how strong a man you really are. Will you stand up for your mates and be counted? Will you do the tough jobs that someone must do like fighting for your country and for freedom in your daily life during times of strife?

Today I see in the media the validated persona of entitled young ?men? fretting about getting offended. It is all about their hurty feelings or the unfairness of life. Their preference to be metro beta men is likely part of their disposition toward a cowardly acceptance of socialism, since that is the ultimate cop-out of responsibility and consequences.

Should you encounter any snowflakes out there, you know what you need to do. Do not apologise for being a bit harsh as, after all, we do need to hurt their feelings… then give them the opportunity to read 12 Rules for Life.

We should all read this bloody good book; it may help us all to recall subliminal formative memories and then we can pass this inspiration on to the next generation.

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