I used to carry a cell phone jamming device in my commuting bag. It was necessary for my train ride. Asking someone to kindly lower their voice was always met with a stream of obscenities, no matter how respectful and polite I was. I decided to go nuclear and ordered a cell phone jammer from Hong Kong. It arrived in a plain brown box and it was a dream come true. I stopped using it when it broke. Also, when I came across this:
Illegal to operate, manufacture, import, or offer for sale, (including advertising), with fines of up to $11,000 and imprisonment of up to one year.
At first, I allowed brief, necessary conversations. Announcing a train’s arrival time. Pick up a loaf of bread. Meet at a restaurant. But, as we all know, absolute power corrupts absolutely. I began to employ it simply as a means to entertain myself on my insufferable commute. People are genuinely addicted to cell phones and depriving them of their use is not unlike taking a blankee or a ba ba away from an infant.
I began playing a cat and mouse game. They’d connect and start yammering, I’d jam their signal, then allow them to reconnect and start the process all over again. So fun! It really made my commute fly by.
Here are some snippets from posts I wrote years ago about zapping mobile phone service. Don’t judge me. They were all assholes who were making the people around them miserable. They deserved it. All dialogue is verbatim.
* * *
[Screaming] Stop tellin’ me how to live my life ma! I’m 37 years old!…zap…No, I ain’t hangin’ up on ya, ma! It’s the recep–…zap…I SWEAR I ain’t hangin’ up on ya! Quit yellin’. Don‘t talk to me like tha–…zap…It ain’t ME MA. No, YOU shaddup! It’s this gaddamn CELL PHONE!…zap
Happiness is a warm cell phone jammer.
Bang, bang. Shoot, shoot.
* * *
No, I’m on the train right now. Did you see the weather report for the pageant? I need to be careful! I don’t want to be a sunburned beauty queen!
Hello? I don’t know it just went dead. I’LL JUST DIE if I can’t use my ph…
It doesn’t take much to push a beauty queen over the edge. It’s like tripping an old lady who’s using a walker.
* * *
Gordon Gekko was sitting behind me on the train. He called his bookie and wanted to place bets on tonight’s baseball games. Loud and clear for all to hear. $200 on the Red Sox. $150 on the White Sox. That’s as far as he got.
I’ve seen people get angry over the inability to make a call but this guy exhibited a deep, primal rage you don’t see in public very often. He was desperate to get his bets in. It was 6:55 and the games start at 7:05. But—son of a gun—try as he might he couldn’t get through. I pictured one of Tony Soprano’s Jersey goombahs on the other end.
He was furious. It was the first time I was worried about retribution. Guys with that kind of commitment to gambling usually have a low threshold for anger + violence.
* * *
A woman became so frustrated with the number of dropped calls on the train that she got her Verizon bill out of her purse, called customer service and started screaming at them. I let that call through.
I was hitting doubles. With one flick of a switch I zapped a yappy 19-ish girl with a hip, urban sendibility sitting directly behind me AND the sideways baseball cap-wearing thug sitting behind her. They were both cursing up a blue streak. Such dirty mouths for such young children. I, on the other hand, was feeling much better about the train ride.
They suddenly realized they were having the same problem. They compared devices and cursed their providers (his: Verizon, hers: AT&T) for having such wretched service so close to the city. They were drawn together by a common enemy (technology). By the time we pulled into Newark, they had exchanged phone numbers.
See that? Put your phone down and love might find you. For all I know they’re in the process of becoming under-aged parents as I type.
* * *
Overheard by a passenger who was staring out the window, wide-eyed, slack jawed, in utter disbelief:
Look at that! There’s a goddamn cell tower RIGHT THERE! Why can’t I get a decent signal?!
A foggy morning.
I like how the sunlight plays off the tops of the buildings in foreground.