soft353

Tough guy: Ross of Bondi's Best seafoods.

In the past five years or so, the "harden the f--- up" catch-cry popularised by Chopper Read impersonator Ronnie Johns has gone from being a comedy routine, to an internet meme, to a genuine mainstay of Australian slang, perhaps even a pillar of our national culture.

There are increasingly few situations where a male can show weakness or lack of commitment and not have someone chime in with a call of "harden the f--- up".

If you're whinging, having a general sook (about your Qantas flight, perhaps), even exhibiting laziness or torpor, someone's also likely to come over the top with a comment of "harden the f--- up".

This is a good thing if you ask me, because the quip is generally delivered with irony or humour, giving the lazy weak sook an out if he chooses, but it still lets everyone within earshot know he's a lazy weak sook.

Why I mention it is because I was chatting to the chef at my local fish shop, the other day and noticed he had a bandage wound up his entire forearm.

"Burn yourself?" I said and he nodded, then mumbled something about potato scallops and splashing oil.

In fact, he'd got a second-degree burn on the underside of his forearm, the length and width of two very long, fat carrots.

"You go to hospital?" I said and he smiled and replied: "Yeah, after we closed up."

So, he'd burnt himself, put some water and cream on it, then worked over a hot stove for another six hours (and if you've ever had a decent burn, you'd know how joyous it is getting it near heat).

When I expressed admiration, the cook's business partner said that was the general rule with injuries in commercial kitchens.

"You get 10 minutes to sort yourself out, five minutes for a ciggie, then back to work," he said.

It made me wonder how many other industries have this sort of tough-guy mentality?

It's certainly fading in journalism.

A mate who works on the news desk of a major metropolitan daily told me yesterday about a call he'd got from a photographer whose car had been T-boned in an accident on the way to a death knock*.

"He was hysterical, wanting to know how to get his workers' comp application started," my friend said.

"I will say the journo then got on the phone, said the car was still driveable and drove them to the job without a windscreen and used it as a talking point to get in the front door at the house and get the yarn," said my friend.

So, maybe it's just snappers who are soft?

Another journalist colleague won much praise from his work mates after he rolled his car on the way to a job but continued to the gig bleeding from several large head wounds, filed the story, then went to hospital and subsequently spent a fortnight in a neck brace.

No doubt you've got a similar story of your own, or perhaps the inverse - a tale about a colleague or friend who split a nail and had to go home sick.

I'd love to hear them, I need a laugh.

Care to share?

* A death knock is where a journalist and photographer go to the house of a person who's been killed/murdered to ask their relatives "how they feel".

Sam de Brito's latest novel Hello Darkness is in bookstores now. You can follow him on Twitter here.