Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The Cell Phone Vigilante

I'll admit that as of late, I've been traveling on airplanes quite a bit and have gotten used to long stretches of travel time without the interruption of the cell phone. Even better, without the interruption of OTHER people yapping it up on their cell phones (sometimes you wish that PEOPLE had a volume control). This is why I hope airlines continue to resist allowing passengers to use cell phones in flight.

In any case, last week I took a ride on the train -- something I haven't done in a while -- and I'd forgetten how much of an issue cell phone use is on those trips home in the evening. Many people look forward to a good nap on the ride home so that after a long day at work, they can be refreshed when they arrive home to meet their family.

So I'm sitting there on the train, and I met a friend of mine who I used to see often when I rode the train a lot. We chatted for a bit before he told me he was going to take a short nap before his stop. Suddenly, two rows ahead of us, a cell phone rang. And you just knew what was going to happen next...

"HELLO!?... YES!!... WHAT??? I'M ON THE TRAIN!..."

And so everyone on the train was disturbed by this man's conversation. Nothing new here, right? Well, my buddy turns to me and says "watch this" and he pulls what looks like a walkie talkie out of his briefcase. He presses a button, a little red light turns on, and 10 seconds later, you hear the following from the passenger on the phone...


Then my friend explains that the walkie talkie is a cell phone jammer. With a fully-charged battery, he can block cell service for about half of the car we were in. These jammers are illegal in the states, but can be acquired easily enough on the internet. Such a hand-held battery-powered jammer runs about $285 -- a small price to pay for peace and quiet, and a good nap on the train ride home from work.

Nice, eh?

Of course, the question arises, is it right for someone to block cell service for so many people just to grab a few minutes of shut-eye? While the person yelling on the phone is certainly violating cell phone etiquette, is the person doing the jamming any better?


Wherever Jameel is, he wears his Kippah and his blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael


Anonymous said...

Some restaurants have installed them.

A very good idea.

Conversation fragment I overheard recently: "Oh nothing, I'm with a bunch of ugly people on the cablecar..."

Holy Hyrax said...

You know the power I can possess with a devise like that??? The possibilities are endless.

Anonymous said...

What if the call is a real-live emergency?

Jack Steiner said...

Suppose you are a doctor and you are dealing with a patient's health crisis.

Gee a Moron said...

Can't you ask someone to talk quietly on their cellphone? Most cellphones these days have ALC (automatic level control) on their microphones such that if you talk quietly the volume to the other end will be raised.

Try whispering into your cellphone and see if the other side can continue to hear you. They should.

This type of etiquette should satisfy all but the impossible-to-please.

Rafi G. said...

That's great. I gotta get me one of them gadgets. The people on the cellphone on the train are horrible.

you ask if he is any better - I ask if he is any worse. Why can the cellphone guy distrub the sleeper, but the sleeper is wrong for disturbing the cellphone guy.

Liza said...

This gadget is definitely going on my wish list. I'm on that train twice a day, every day, and it can be a nightmare. I don't suppose it has an option giving electric shocks to people who use their train time to decide on a new ring tone...

MUST Gum Addict said...

The guy form the train emailed me this link.

Back of the Hill - I've heard that some shuls also have such a device installed.

Holy - with great power comes great responsibility :)

Jack - you raise a valid point. I guess this falls along the ethical side of this. I also wondered about those who use crackberries to check email -- this would prevent such an activity, and those people are (hopefully) silent.

Gee - In an idealistic world, yes. But as just about anyone can attest to, not everyone is capable of lowering their voices. People just talk loud into their cell phones -- even yelling at times. And if you should ask such a person to be quiet, they look at you like you're nuts. This is unlike Japan where there is very strict protocol in how cell phones are used. Did you know you aren't allowed to talk on a cell phone in public in Japan? There are empty phone booths throughout the city, and when you want to make a call on your cell, you use the phone booth.

Rafi - I completely agree. People should certainly be aware of others around them and adjust their volume (and their topic of conversation) accordingly.

Liza - I'm cracking up about the ring tone selection. I've seen that happen before and someone actually crumpled up a piece of their newspaper and threw it at the person.

Elie said...

On Amtrak they have "quiet cars" where cellphone use is illegal. You can choose to sit in one of those or in a regular car. Sort of like the old smoking/non-smoking sections.

Lurker said...

Of course, the question arises, is it right for someone to block cell service for so many people just to grab a few minutes of shut-eye?

"The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one."
-- Mr. Spock, The Wrath of Khan

Anonymous said...

Try sitting in a Hollywood restaurant and trying to have a serious business conversation with a producer or director and some airhead actress is two feet away blabbing away to her manicurist about her tips--endlessly!

Want one.

Need one.

tafka PP said...

Lurker- in view of what followed, they weren't exactly wise words on his part, now were they?

There's someone choosing a ringtone in the next room to me right now. Grr.

Anonymous said...

What wouls Mrs. Gumby and the Chicklets say if Gumby was arrested by the FCC for jamming some oaf's cell phone?

Batya said...

It would be just perfect if it came with an ultra-sensitive microphone, which disguises voices:
"If you don't lower the volume of your cellphone conversations, I have a gadgit which will turn them off for you." Even better, get it recorded, so you won't be seen talking.

aliyah06 said...

I once had a similar problem with the guy playing a boom-box at full volume. I confiscated the boom-box. He threatened to call the police. "Knock yourself out," I invited. "Call the police, I throw this out the window." Stand-off. He got his boom-box back with the promise he wouldn't turn it back on. Whatever it takes with these egocentric 'everybody-notice-me' noise thugs....

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