The bus rider who jams yappers' cell phones

A man who regularly rides Philadelphia's buses admits he jams all cell phones so he can get peace and quiet on the ride. He claims he's taking the law into his own hands.

Chris Matyszczyk
3 min read
Screenshot: Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

It might be the 7:30 a.m. bus and you might be semi-comatose from a long night of self-anesthesia, but some people do insist on talking into their cell phones about last night's cabbage stew or a lover who smells of cadaver.

You can tell them to be quiet. But this, too might be ignored. So one rider in Philadelphia decided he'd use an alternative method: he says he simply jams all cell phones on his bus.

I know many will be grateful to NBC 10 in Philadelphia for discovering this remarkably simple method at achieving world peace.

"I guess I'm taking the law into my own hands. And, quite frankly, I'm proud of it," the man told NBC.

View more videos at: http://nbcphiladelphia.com.

The man--whose name is Eric--said he found people talking on their cell phones during rides on public transport both irritating and rude. (Oh, but surely they're interesting, once in a while.)

He said he used a cell phone jammer that he bought online.

Stunningly, one or two of his fellow riders are not entirely enamored of his enterprise. Even more stunningly, one of his fellow riders was an employee of NBC 10.

You may not be able to cope with this consequence, but NBC 10 used a little surreptitious gadget that captured Eric jamming.

NBC 10, having checked with the FCC, tried to explain that his little device wasn't exactly legal in any way. He, though, believes there might be a gray area.

Some might observe that Eric is not the first to want to interfere with communications on public transport. There was an interesting time last year when officials for San Francisco's BART thought it wise to shut travelers' cell phones by flicking a switch.

And what would Eric do if one of those fellow riders was talking on their cell phones because of some emergency?

"Well, of course if there were such a situation on the bus, I imagine I would be right in the middle of it. And I would imagine that would be a very different situation of course, I'd imagine I'd be dialing 911 myself," Eric said, perhaps a little confusingly.

Some will sympathize with Eric's pain. Not so long ago, a lady was thrown off a train after allegedly talking for 16 hours on her cell phone. Non-stop.

Oddly, officials from SEPTA, the Philadelphia bus operator, say that hand-held cell phone jammers don't work on its buses. The cruel might speculate, therefore, that all of these disrupted riders were customers of AT&T.

This would surely be unfair. However, Eric, having now reportedly confirmed that his jammer might put him in the slammer, has promised he will destroy his device.

Thankfully, science may soon come to Eric's rescue--with the recent invention of the SpeechJammer, a device that merely mutes those speaking within 100 feet of you.

The only slight drawback with that, sadly, is that the SpeechJammer is a gun that you point at the talker. Please imagine what fulmination the No. 44 bus might experience if Eric pulled a gun on them to shut them up.