I was attempting to separate a tangled mess of audio cables. After a shoot last week, an intern had been in a hurry to head off for a fun weekend. This Monday, the boss, me, had the pleasant duty of taking the entangled mess and turning it into neatly coiled audio cables – ready to be used at the next remote shoot, Friday.

I knew one intern who wouldn’t be getting a satisfactory performance review. Well, as the Cap’n would have said: “You’ve been there, You’ve done that. Don’t do it again.” So I guess there will be the lecture on the Seven P’s – Prior, Proper Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance. Then I remembered my experience with a mess of tangled lines.

Years before, while getting the 34-foot ketch Psyche ready for summer sailing, I had opened the chain locker where I had hurriedly stowed an assortment of running rigging the previous fall without properly coiling it. I didn’t remember leaving it such a mess. But there the pile sat, filthy, tangled, and a seeming Gordion’s Knot of line. Knowing what the Cap’n’s reaction would be, and being able to price out the replacement cost of whatever I could not salvage, I spent an entire day on the wharf unknotting and carefully coiling. Like a three-year-old, I hoped that my sins of omission and commission would go undiscovered. Unlike a three-year-old, I realized that a good captain doesn’t trust a green hand without verifying the work done and undone. Sometime that afternoon, before the Cap’n returned, I figured out that he knew, and this was his way of teaching me a lesson. 

Sure enough, when he returned, he had a big smile plastered on his face. He merely pointed the stem of his pipe at the neatly coiled running rigging, smiled at me, and said: “good job, Wes.”

Thinking about that memory, I took the one cable I had properly coiled and laid it neatly on the tangled cables. I took a piece of notepaper from the pad and wrote a quick note. ” Hey Bob, don’t forget to add a quarter turn counter-clockwise to each loop as you coil the audio cables. It keeps them from tangling.”

I’d see soon enough If my intern took the hint and earned praise. Or, if he needed a dramatic reading of the Seven P’s before a poor performance review.