Cell reception got a whole lot better for transit riders in the Windy City. Not because of new equipment being rolled out, though. It’s because charges were filed against a 63-year-old accountant.
Dennis Nicholl is apparently a fan of mass transit but not quite so fond of the smartphone crowd. That made for unpleasant train rides for Nicholl, who one day decided enough was enough and bought himself a portable cell jammer.
On one particular ride, he boarded the train and sat down next to Aaron Robinson. Nicholl was carrying a plastic bag, and when his gaze fixed on another passenger talking on a smartphone Robinson watched him pull the small, black device from the bag and switch it on. The conversation came to an abrupt halt, and numerous other riders began fiddling with their phones to try and figure out why their connections had suddenly dropped.
Robinson summed the situation up perfectly: “It’s kind of a digital ‘stay off my lawn, you young people with your cellphones.’ ”
Where did Nicholl get his hands on a jammer, anyway? He reportedly ordered it up from China — they’re actually not much harder to find than, say, and Android stick PC or a convincing iPhone knock-off. A better question might be why he didn’t invest in a really good set of headphones, or maybe some contractor-grade ear protection to block out the noise.
Had he gone that route, he would’ve avoided all this unwanted press and, more importantly, the felony charge of unlawful interference with a public utility. If a previous case in Florida is any indication, Nicholl could be facing tens of thousands of dollars in fines.
He may also be dealt with more harshly by the court given his past shenanigans. See, Nicholl was busted for doing almost exactly the same thing back in 2009.