What’s in a name? I got my nickname (Coops) in the desert and it has stuck to me for the last 15 years. I barely respond to my real name now.
The necessity to give me a nick name came about at my interview for the Tanami Exploration job. The boss looked at my resume and said “You seem OK, but I don't know. We’ve already got a Mike, a Mick and a Michael out there. It might be confusing on the radio.”
I wanted the job bad enough so I said, “call me Coops.”
My brother worked at the same mine. He was also known as Coops, so I don't know that my theft of his nickname made identifying us any less confusing.
Arriving at a new job already labelled is handy. There’s less likelihood of being tagged with something a creative joker might come up with when you screw up royally. I’ve had good reason to worry about screwing up.
I knew one guy called ‘Whoremonger’. No kidding! He actually introduced himself that way.
I never thought too much about being called Coops until I met a bunch of traditional owners who’d broken down at Rabbit Flat. Another Fieldie and I gave them a hand to fix their car. They shook hands with us as they left and wanted to know our names. I introduced myself as Coops. The elder jerked his head back and said “What? Like chicken coop?” I shrugged and said “yeah, close enough”. My mate was next. Juck. A nick name from childhood when his little brother couldn’t say his real name properly. The elder looked amazed again “Juck? Coops? And you think our names are strange!”
(Coming soon – Tanami Desert Diary – PART 3)