I have a job hosting at a restaurant. One of the morning hosting duties is to vacuum the floor with the giant backpack vacuum, nicknamed “the Ghostbusters vacuum,” since it looks a bit like a Ghostbusters proton pack. This vacuum cleans the entire floor of the restaurant morning and night, every day; it gets a lot of use. Its operators are bored, sleepy, angry employees who just want to go home, so it takes more than its share of abuse.
This vacuum is unlike a standard home vacuum in that, instead of supplying its own long cord, it has a plug that attaches to a standard extension cord — you can use whatever length cord you like, and replace it as needed. The extension cord itself…well, it is amazing that the silly vacuum works at all. The cord gets plugged in an outlet, stretched, yanked out of the wall as the host tries to unhook it from a table, and just falls out of some outlets when it feels ignored. It catches on chairs, on tables, on the corners of walls, on itself. If it is possible for something to go wrong, it happens. When the hosts are all done vacuuming for the evening, (or morning, as it may be,) the cord is neatly rolled up, wrapped with the Velcro cord tie, and stored in an out-of-the-way corner of the kitchen.
Just kidding! The cord usually gets “wrapped” haphazardly, thrown in a corner on top of the vacuum, and usually deteriorates into a spaghetti-like mass of chaos within seconds so that the next person to pick it up gets to play “Untangle the Extension Cord!” while still trying to vacuum the floor.
The sheer number of times I have played this game has taught me one thing:
I am the only person there who knows how to wrap a cord.
Talk about transferable skills; I learned how to wrap cords in Worship Team.
Worship Team was the class for the musicians and tech team that ran Wednesday chapels. (I attended a Christian school for thirteen years.) So many stories from that class… But this one is about cords. I can still remember one particular event when I was trying to help tear down equipment after chapel. I had picked up an unplugged XLR cable (a microphone cable for those not familiar with cable classification) and started to wrap it around my hand and upper arm, so it was under tension. One of the veteran WT guys sprinted across the room, yelling “NO NO NO STOP! DROP THE CABLE!” Talk about an overreaction. I was incorrect, but that seemed a bit excessive. (Our equipment was crappy enough that I really doubt it made much of a difference.) After he calmed down enough to stop yelling at me for my ignorance, he showed me the right way to wrap a cable, though I did not so much as touch another cable for a few weeks. (I was not about to risk that sort of treatment again.) As this sort of event happened repeatedly, albeit in a much less dramatic fashion, it became apparent that almost no one knew the best way to wrap an instrument cord. Cable Wrapping 101 thus became a regular feature for new WT members. A few years later, I encountered it again during my Music Technology class in college, where, again, almost no one knew before it was presented there.
I have come to see this as one of the more transferable and relevant skills to come out of those classes. If I were bolder — and not fully convinced, justifiably, that my audience would blow me off — I would teach this skill to all my fellow hosts so we could have an easier time vacuuming while not fighting with the extension cord. Of course, no one but me cares about such things, so I never will. However, I will teach you, since you are already on my blog and presumably might care just a little more.
I wish that I had a decent (read “functional”) video camera and microphone to make my own video to show you, but I do not. Instead, I shall point you toward, “How to Wrap a Video Cable Properly!”
The over-under method, or figure eight method, demonstrated here is the best one for video cables, instrument and XLR cables, etc. to keep them in good working order. It is probably not strictly necessary for extension cords, but I have found it to work well for most longish cords, better than other methods.
So grab a cable and give it a try! Wrap the cord, throw it to watch it play out smoothly (if you did it right), and then wrap it again.
Cable abuse stops with you!