I'll have to admit, I'm not the most tidy of people... I don't feel the need to have every tassel on a throw rug laying flat or iron my polos before I wear them on a load-in. But when it comes to equipment and work space on show site, I am adamant about keeping things clean and organized. There is seldom time to be hunting down a case that contains my spares, or cleaning a piece of gear that is failing due to overtemp conditions.
Like some of you, I am often at the mercy of my customers as to the condition of the gear they provide, including the periodic maintenance. I have spent many an hour cleaning the grills of Encore VP's or ScreenPro II's, or intakes for routers. I know that sometimes this gear gets shipped from show to show, without ever returning to the shop for maintenance, but even so, I would hope that the guy that had the gear before me would take at least a few steps to clean up the gear before sending it on to my gig. And don't get me started on the wholesalers - who hasn't received a piece of gear from a wholesaler that still has that NFG tag on it from the last show (and I don't mean Next Flight Going!). I love working for companies that follow the manufacturer's guide for periodic maintenance, but sometimes the gear just needs to be cleaned up, even if it hasn't hit that magical amount of time that is recommended.
There are a few related things that are my show pet peeves - first, Take the board tape OFF! If you label your switcher, controller, or even individual scalers or CCU's with board tape, then be sure to take those labels OFF before you pack the gear up for the next guy. Unless you KNOW you will be the next person running that system, and want it labeled the same, then pull off that tape. I don't want to spend my valuable load in time peeling off your stinkin' labels.
Same thing applies to tape on cables - sure, you may have needed to label all 5 colors on the RGBHV lines as separate sends - but I don't want to use your labeling system. I may not HAVE a Center Delay Screen, so remove that title, or any other notes, from ALL of the cables as you wrap them up and throw them in the case. Oh, and even worse is when I get a cable that has 3, 4, or more labels, either tape over tape, or just various labels from different shows. Clean up after yourselves!
I recently worked for a production company client that sent out their Encore system for use on show site... I won't mention any names... and when I opened the rack, the VP's looked as though someone had shaved a rabbit of all of its fur and stuffed it into the front intake vents. I made sure to take a picture first (see below) and then spent time searching out a vacuum to clean up the gear so that it wouldn't fail on me during show. I made sure to show this pic to the people in their video department as a "what not to do" kind of example, and they all agreed that it should never have been sent out that way. I never did find out what kind of show they were doing that could have created such a mess in the first place. I really hope they pulled it apart and cleaned out the insides once it got back to their shop (but I wouldn't put money on it that they did).
Some other things that really get to me? Latches that aren't either re-latched to the cases when they are empty, or at least tucked back so that I won't catch my nice new dockers on them as I walk past in the morning. People that leave their food or other garbage sitting out on their console, or worse yet near MY console, instead of finding a trash can to dispose of it properly. Opening a case and throwing everything out to get to that cable on the bottom that you need, but then leaving the rest of the cables sitting on the floor until strike.
I like to have my cables around my rack coiled neatly or tucked out of the way under the rack. I do understand that in the heat of the show, if you have to do a quick add in or re-patch, that sometimes this area can get pretty cluttered, and with a really large system, sometimes the amount of cables exceeds the areas where they can be tucked or coiled. But keeping the patch area as neat as possible allows me to find a problem cable or re-patch or insert a new cable quickly when the need arises.
There are a lot of you out there that have similar pet peeves about cleanliness... I'd love to hear from you, and let's give these messy slackers around us something to think about next time they start to set their coffee cup down at our desk and walk away!