Revenge of the Tools: Do You Believe in Resistentialism?

Resistentialism is the theory described as the seemingly spiteful behavior manifested by inanimate objects. Here are tips to make sure your installs behave.

After many years of observation and contemplation I have reached, what I feel, is a philosophical epiphany. In fact, just recently, I found a word that defines this personal belief. The word is resistentialism and it was created in 1948 by humorist Paul Jennings.  

Resistentialism is the theory described as the seemingly spiteful behavior manifested by inanimate objects. Simply put, I believe that all inanimate objects have some level of animation and conciseness. Hypothetically, inanimate objects, such as installations, installation equipment and hardware, can wreak havoc at will on us any time, just to ruin our day as a technician. 

An interesting security related note — In 1924, Mark Twain relates an anecdote about a recalcitrant burglar alarm in his ornate mansion in Hartford. It ”led a gay and careless life, and had no principles,” he says. ”We quickly found out that it was fooling us and that it was buzzing its bloodcurdling alarm merely for its own amusement.”  

Go ahead and call me crazy. However, have you ever noticed when you drop something, either at home or on the job, it will not simply fall straight down. It will find the farthest hidden location to hide from you (also known as 1920 Bernstein’s First Law).  

Some other resistentialism conditions you may have encountered over the years: finding a misplaced item that you swore you never placed there; managing cables that seem to always have a mind of their own; procedures always seem to be the most noncomplying when you have the shortest time to complete; and yes, you end up making personal comments to these inanimate objects. Do you see the pattern?

Putting all humor aside, what does this discussion have to do with low-voltage technicians and the trade? It teaches us that no matter our level of expertise we need to constantly focus on the little nuances of our daily technical work.

Even with this concentration we will occasionally be surprised with a resistentialism visit. However, the true tradesman over the years will increase his performance and sanity by being aware resistentialism is always lurking in the shadows. 

There are many practices and tools that we can apply to help reduce our degree of resistentialism. Let’s take a moment to look at some of these practices and products. 

Flexible Pickup Tool — Every have a screw or small part that has decided it does not want to be installed and jumps down on the floor just out of reach between other equipment in a small utility closet? A must for these incidents is a 24-inch 2-1 magnetic pickup tool with all those tiny fingers.  

Magnetic Wrist Band — Keep your screws and installation tools under control so they can’t even think of pulling something to ruin your day. One handy tool for this is a Magnetic Wrist Band to keep these rascals close to you.  

Cable Pulling Kits — One of the craziest resistentialism arenas is when dealing with cabling installations. No matter how experienced you are, the cabling will pull a fast one on you when you least expect it. It is always good practice to taper cables to be pulled and make sure you do not overfill raceways. One toolkit for this is this the Wire Noodler. The kit comes with eight different attachments, including a super bright LED light, flexible nylon rod, chain noodle, magnet, various hooks and 11 feet of fiberglass rods.  

Another great resource, and one of my favorites for installation tools is the specialty supplier Rack-A-Tiers. Some tools to check out there are the Pullee, a 4 X 4-inch steel box wire-pulling guide. It is a simple snap-in steel roller that helps eliminate needing a second person to guide the feeding end. Another really smart tool is the Wire Vortex (see Tool of the Month).  

Wire Fishing Aids — It seems like cables always have a mind of their own when trying to be routed through walls. If you want to tame those unruly wires you need the super force of a tool such as the Magnepull. This device has been known to cut cable fishing time by 70%.  

Over the years, I have seen too many instances of resistentialism to completely debunk it. Even though this is a humorous topic, there is much we can learn and teach ourselves to reduce this environment and focus on creating more productive and less stressful work conditions. Let’s do all we can to drastically reduce resistentialism in our lives.

Tool of the Month 

It is a win-win situation when you can both reduce manpower and worker frustration.

The Wire Vortex wire pulling guide from Rack-A-Tiers fits on a 4-inch square box and saves a ton of time when pulling cable. 

Tagged with: Tech Talk Columns

About the Author

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Bob is currently a Security Sales & Integration "Tech Talk" columnist and a contributing technical writer. Bob installed his first DIY home intercom system at the age of 13, and formally started his technology career as a Navy communication electronics technician during the Vietnam War. He then attended the Milwaukee School of Engineering and went on to complete a Security Management program at Milwaukee Area Technical College. Since 1976, Bob has served in a variety of technical, training and project management positions with organizations such ADT, Rollins, National Guardian, Lockheed Martin, American Alarm Supply, Sonitrol and Ingersoll Rand. Early in his career, Bob started and operated his own alarm dealership. He has also served as treasurer of the Wisconsin Burglar and Fire Alarm Association and on Security Industry Association (SIA) standards committees. Bob also provides media and training consulting to the security industry.

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