Cell phone jamming

In this morning’s New York Times, Sam Lubell writes about cell phone jammers that can be used in environments where one doesn’t want to hear cell phones ringing. There’s some question on the future legality of the devices, which of course means you can find them on eBay.

I’m a bit concerned about the concept of jamming without notice, though I have to admit there are places I’d love to have the option of avoiding the incoming ring or discontinuing the conversation:

  • When at the table in a restaurant. I sat across from a woman whose phone rang seven times during our meal. I’m a very mellow person, and am willing to grant one freebie ring. If it rings a second time, I’ll wave as that person works their way to the door, on the way to the hospital, because it’s obviously an emergency. By the fourth ring, I was dropping inaudible, but uncharacteristic F-bombs. By ring six, I was having a John Belushi fantasy about silencing her phone with a hammer. The woman’s date was visibly upset, too, eventually getting up and walking out on her. Not that she noticed.
  • Public restrooms. (guest commentary from Lisa)
    So when did it become acceptable to use a cell phone in a public restroom? Apparently this week, judging by several encounters of the crass kind. “Can you hear me flush? Can you hear me flush?” If people want to converse from their own bathroom, that is their choice (or maybe their friend’s choice).
    But using a cell phone in a public restroom is an INVASION OF PRIVACY. Alexander Graham Bell had no idea. But David Byrne did. I hate people when they’re not polite.
  • Gymnasiums. When I’m not outside, I work out at a hole-in-the-strip-mall club. It sees its share of soccer parents. Usually once or twice during my workout, someone’s cell phone will ring. If they’re on the butt cheek enhancersstair steppers or treadmills, they’ll keep doing what they’re doing, gabbing away. One the one hand, their phone isn’t going to disturb me over the other random noises. On the other hand, that they’re able to hold a conversation just illustrates that they are not working out very hard. (And, hey, the TVs with the Ellen DeGeneres show/ESPN are muted.)
  • Classes. I was working on my MBA a couple of years ago in the UW “executive” program, whose twist is one attends classes full time while also working full-time. Classes were held alternating Fridays and Saturdays. Taking off work a full day is beyond the grasp of many companies, and people brought their cell phones with them. Most had them in silent mode, attending to work during class breaks. Occasionally, someone would forget and the phone would ring during class. Bob Bowen, the Johnny Cash of Accounting professors, deal with this very well: he’d stop lecturing and walk over to the ringing phone to answer it. This effective embarrassing that person into learning how to shut the bleeping ringer off.
  • One of the more interesting products mentioned in the article is Zetron’s Cell phone detector that could be used as a reminder or a virtual Bob Bowen.

    What do you think? Are people rude? Just clueless? Are there other places phones should be highly discouraged? Or is this all of this overblown?

    20 thoughts on “Cell phone jamming”

    1. People who leave them on in movie theators should be taken out and beat bloody (along along with people who bring screaming infants, but due to my sensitivity, would make their children not witness the pulverization).

      Some places wouldn’t bother me if people would speak in a NORMAL tone of voice. There was one guy getting a phonecall on a plane before we departed, which is okay, but he was YELLING and I could hear EVERYTHING from 5 ROWS back.

      In Japan phones are technially a no-no on public transportation, but it sometimes happens. When it does, the person hunches over and cups their hand over their mouth and speaker, muting it a bit while they tell the person they will call back.

    2. My hubby HAS to carry one for work and has to talk as long as is necessary to help the person on the other end.

      But, as far as social calls go, it’s a different matter altogether.

      If I have a guest in my home and stay on the phone the whole time she’s there, it’s just RUDE of me. It’s the same if I’m out to dinner with someone and ignore him the whole time because I’m chatting on the phone. Rude, rude, rude.

      Oh, and Mitch is right about phones in the theater. Set the phone to vibrate and then leave the theater to answer it. That way nobody will have fantasies about beating you senseless with your very own fun little electronic device.

      Sorry ’bout the rant…

    3. In a social setting it is flat out rude to even have the telephone powered. Think back ten years ago. Were calls so important then that people left a number for wherever they went? No! What the hell is the need to have it on now? In case something better comes along? Well, I’ll answer that for you, if you are out with me, you’ll be left alone. Friend, date, spouse or not, I don’t care. Turn off the damn phones!

      Okay, emergencies. The chances of an emergency happening are miniscule. So, leave it off! If you go around in life expecting emergencies, your life license should be revoked. However, if someone is on a deathbed, then by all means, switch the phone to vibrate and inform members in your party. But other than that, leave it the eff off!

      BTW, NYX is way behind on the jammers. This was at Slate (http://slate.msn.com/id/2092059/) months ago. I carry one with me everywhere. If you find you can’t use your cell, look for someone 6’2″, 190# with short, curly red hair and, believe it or not, a tan. yes, some red-haired folks tan!

      And hey, unless you’re getting up in a theater to leave, go to the concession stand, or go to the restroom, sit the hell down and stay there. What the hell are you doing at a movie if you are expecting a call?!

      Not sorry about the rant.

      You people with your cell phones suck.

      One last thing, turn off the damn phones!

    4. I agree people should generally leave them off. Or at least keep it on happy pocket vibrator mode.

      The ringing is exacerbated by the obnoxious tones you can download to “customize” your phone. One of the guys I used to work near (*cough* Tim *cough*) had a hideously long melody set up on his — sounded like ZZ Top’s La Grange, but wasn’t. It’s very nasty in a cube farm.

    5. Rude *and* clueless. Here’s a classic examplt: One of the lawyers involved in my deposition on Monday didn’t bother to set his phone to “vibrate” — even after it went off FOUR TIMES. I wonder if the court reporter typed “ring ring ring”…

    6. Favorite pastime: when a coworker is giving an important presentation in a large meeting, call his cell phone. It’s fun.. or.. so.. I’ve.. heard.

    7. > Rude *and* clueless

      I’m surprise the judge put up with that… but the few times I’ve been in court were markedly different from Judge Judy, the People’s Court, or L.A. Law (among others).

      > Calling phones of coworkers in presentations

      So you’re the one…. 🙂

    8. One of my accounting professors used to home in on the ringing phone, trying to grab and answer it on behalf of the recipient. One or two times and people learned to shut off the ringer.

    9. hi, i hate cell phone….so i jus want 2 jamm them..
      i really hate them when i m in my Lab. n ne of my frnd call me and it start ringin.. i really hate this stuff..
      it is a pain in the head……

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