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Not even on the so called ‘quiet car” on the MARC train from Baltimore to Washington can a rider enjoy a book without a cell phone screamer breaking through. This morning I was forced to listen to a woman with an annoying Virginia accent (all Virginia accents are annoying to varying degrees) complain about her brother’s alcohol problem to who I imagine was another family member.
As the New York Times reported Sunday, there is a solution, albeit an illegal one, in the form of cell phone jammers. The story doesn’t say how long these techno marvels have been around, but supposedly the devices, the prices of which range from $50 to more than $1,000, can wipe out a wide swath of cell phone signals at the push of a button.
The Times story says the owner of an upscale Maryland restaurant bought one to keep his employees off their phones but had to get rid of it to keep out of trouble with FCC bad guys, who carry equipment that can pick up on a jammer.
Jammers can be fined up to $11,000 for a first offense. It’s against the law to block out someone’s chatter. Cell phone screamers could be calling 911 after all.
Aside from the fine, another problem with the jammers seems to be the distance at which they work. The Times story mentions 30 feet. From my experience, the collateral damage from cell-phone screamers carries at a much further distance.
Maybe jammers aren’t the solution. Maybe cell phone screamers should be dealt with like cigarette smokers. Kick them outside, in the cold, and certainly out of the quiet car.