Cords and Bondage
“It’s not a ridiculous notion to think that something might actually live in there,” Joe, said. We took turns pressing our heads against the wall to peer down into the darkness that was behind his desk.
It was as though someone had taken a huge platter of giant black spaghetti, plopped it onto his desk and then pushed it off the back to wedge on the floor between his desk and wall. I reached in and tugged on one of the looser stray cables and the whole clump reacted. I half expected something to run out. I was happy that I only helped Joe on the keyboard side of his computer. Under every desk that has a computer, a Blackberry, a printer, a digital camera, a web cam, a scanner and any number of other devices, you’ll usually find a glob of cables that are unruly if not bound by brute force. Joe was sick of the mess.
Fortunately, he had a solution. His friend was beginning an office organization business with an emphasis on fixing such computer cabling messes. Joe was excited to give his friend a shot at the job. A few weeks later, I returned to Joe’s office to install a new printer for him and noticed that the cable clean up had been completed. I leaned over the desk to look behind it and could hardly believe my eyes. Not only was the giant cable hairball gone, but all the cables were straightened and tied every six inches. I saw no dust bunnies and for the first time I was certain that nothing was living behind Joe’s desk. Joe was happy as a clam and handed me his friend’s business card -in case I wanted to refer him.
I got to work installing a new printer. After only a few minutes, I discovered that I had a huge problem. Joe’s friend, the office organizer, had used permanent tensile cable ties -like the plastic strip cuffs you may have seen police use (on TV, of course). They don’t untie; you have to cut them loose. A bigger problem was that the cables were labeled on only one end so it was impossible to know where each terminated after it travelled through their many permanent ties. I showed Joe the dilemma. He understood and was not happy. He called his friend and they agreed that I could cut the ties and the job would be redone at no charge. I wriggled my needle nose pliers into the first tie and clamped down until it popped and the cables sprung apart as if they were glad to be free. I apologized to Joe for every snip until his big batch of spaghetti was almost reformed.
If you want to triumph over cable disarray without committing to never adding another device to your computer, always use thin, Velcro ties. They are easily removed, yet look permanent. If you decide to tie up your cable mess, save yourself some future trouble: Don’t use handcuffs.