Silencing Cell Phones

May 26th, 2010 by Kathy McManus

One man goes to great lengths to stop loud talkers—but is it too much?

Brought to you by Liberty Mutual's
The Responsibility Project

A rude person yammers loudly on a cell phone in a crowded public place. The problem is familiar, but one man’s solution is up for debate.

The Wall Street Journal columnist Ralph Gardner Jr. writes about his “civilized and heroic” friend Philip, whom he refers to as “The Manners Enforcer.” Philip’s pet peeve is “people’s obliviousness when they’re on their cell phones.” So for the last three years he has used an illegal electronic phone jammer to silence those who annoy him. First, he asks “the miscreant to modulate his or her voice.” If that fails, he reaches for the jammer hidden in his pocket, pushes a button, and surreptitiously sends a signal that ends the call mid-sentence.

“The first time he did so,” Gardner reports, “was with a lady standing over him on a crowded bus. ‘She spoke quite loudly and at terrific length,’ Phillip remembers. ‘I put my finger on the button and she went, Hello? Hello?’”

The Manners Enforcer: Irresponsible vigilante, or a breath of fresh air?