I Actually Get Paid To Stay Off the Radio
Hard to believe right?
I was (and still am) someone who truly enjoyed radio. If you were to ask anyone who knew me well back in the 1970's, they would readily agree that I was definitely a radio geek. My favorite part was talking (followed closely by experimenting). Which was why I was always looking for louder modulation, more power, and better antennas. Whatever it took to get more of my signal out there, along with a bit of authority, I was pursuing it. I was also one of those people who couldn't simply listen for very long before succumbing to the uncontrollable urge to throw in a comment or two. In some respect, Blue Bandit had rubbed off on me since he was the local king of the one liners. He always seemed to have some sort of witty, or one of those "dual meaning" comments on tap ready to use when the time was right. I was nowhere near as clever as he was, but I had developed the habit nonetheless. Like him, I would interject little comments during other people's conversations when I thought it was appropriate. Generally these comments were harmless and designed simply to get a laugh. But some people were just a little bit rigid, and didn't appreciate "the peanut gallery" throwing in comments in the middle of their QSO's. Their attitudes were: If you want a break, ask for it, otherwise be quiet. These truly humor challenged people expected pristine conditions to carry on their QSO after they were given the "break". To their way of thinking, active CB'ing was simply a series of two sided conversations separated by "breaks". Such a thing as a free-for-all roundtable seemed foreign by comparison. But that's just not the way I enjoyed radio. I preferred a more relaxed, and far less formal forum, where everyone threw in their remarks as the conversation flowed. If I wanted to have a personal 2-way conversation, I'd call them on the phone. Even to this day, I don't "break" a channel. I usually announce my presence by making a comment, and conversations spring up from there. That's what it's like to be truly an open roundtable, where everyone takes a turn and adds to the topic. It's starting to sound like I'm making excuses my actions and behavior here, but I digress....
Now that I've set the stage, this particular story took place during my association with the Channel 6 group, sometime in the late fall of 1976. It began on a typical afternoon with us teenagers cranking it up on the radio, like we usually did, after a "tough" day at school and the conversations were running back and forth. I had been, as usual, in the thick of things when one of the older regulars (I think it may have been Auto Ace) asked for a break to make a call. We let him in, and he made his call. At some point, during his ensuing conversation, something was said which prompted me to throw out a comment. A few minutes later I made another. Auto Ace, not all that seriously, then made the comment that he'd give me $5 if I'd stay quiet for the next hour. Well, that did it. One thing soon led to another and, the next thing I knew, a bunch of people were coming seemingly out of the woodwork, all pledging money for me to stay quiet (Nice bunch of friends). At first I was somewhat insulted, but then I started doing the math and this was turning into quite a potential windfall, and I was seriously tempted to take the bet. When your income is sporadic, you take every chance you can to make a quick buck. Besides, it was a challenge, and I was never one to turn away from a challenge, especially when I knew I could do it. When I announced that I would be willing to take the bet (Does that now make me a "silence" prostitute?), a few of the adults (Who happened to be club officers), decided to lay down some ground rules. First off, they declared this to be an "official" club "50/50" fund raiser. I was to get 50% of the money pledged, (Rats! only 50%?) with the remaining going to the club treasury. My "quiet" time had ballooned up to a whole week (Oh-oh, withdrawal symptoms..... palms sweating.... must.... key.... mic....), but I still looked to make at least $40 (Hey, that was almost a whole month's car insurance). The only condition was that I could not talk over the radio at all; not at my house, not from my car, or from anyone else's radio, or could I talk on any other channel. In other words, my voice was banned from radiating on the airwaves. So the rules were set and the pledges were in and I agreed to take the deal. I hadn't even shut down yet and people were already trying to come up with ways to "trip me up". They talked about calling me on the phone, and then holding the phone next to their microphone, and transmitting my voice over the air. The rule makers quickly shot that down and said that only if I deliberately talked would I forfeit my winnings (And the club's).
Once everything was finally settled, I decided to take steps to remove all temptation to transmit from my presence. I took my prized Midland base and my D-104 down to Snow White's house to lend her for the week. Her normal radio was a Lafayette HB-23 with a rather anemic sounding stock mike, so I thought she'd appreciate the chance to operate a fancier radio with a little more kick in the modulation area. I also removed my SBE Cortez from the car and hid the stock mike in my garage, out of easy reach. I also put the Comstat and the Turner +2 in the garage. Normally, when someone has to "Cold Turkey" themselves from a habit, they try to do other things to take their mind off of the habit they are trying to quit. But not me. I didn't have all that many activities, outside of the radio, that I could fall back on to distract me from my mission at hand. Besides, I wanted to know if/when/what people were talking about me in my absence. So instead, I decided to tempt fate and sit by the radio, while taking another chapter from Blue Bandit's book, and trying to appreciate the fine art of "Sandbagging". Indeed, for the week that I was "off", I did manage to listen to a few interesting conversations on a bunch of different channels, and I made a few tape recordings of them as well. At some point though, I became bored and started sticking a pencil point into the mike jack to key the transmitter. I guess I was just letting everyone know that I was there. Since I was not actually "talking", this didn't violate my agreement. But once people realized that I was listening, they tried their best to goad me into talking. But amazingly, I kept my composure. But even if I had momentarily lost control, I had no mics nearby to use. At least I had had the forethought to take care of that. Meanwhile, when Snow White first came on the air with my Midland, on the morning after I started my silent period, during the "Coffee Chat" which ensued after all the mothers had sent their kids off to school, she nearly blew Raggedy Ann and Wonder Woman right out of their robes. They were not expecting Snow White to be THAT loud. After they pleaded with her to turn it down, she had to scramble to find a screwdriver to turn the D-104 down. But even with it all the way down, it was still a good bit louder than her normal radio. Operating the Midland soon grew on her and when the week was over, she didn't want to give it back.
Somehow, I managed to make it through what seemed like the longest week of my life without breaking down and talking. I guess my desire to earn money overrode my desire to talk. I guess I proved that when the stakes are high enough, my willpower could be formidable. When my time to return grew close, I retrieved my Midland from Snow White (which was not without a little pout-laden resistance), and I decided to make my grand entrance at the base of another friend who was strategically located in the middle of the greatest concentration of Channel 6 regulars, so as to put out a stronger signal. When the moment arrived, there weren't that many people around to greet me, but I did manage to make a little noise in the process. Looking back, I think it would've been more fun to stay off for a while longer just to make everyone wonder. But back then I was truly itching to key the mic once again. CB radio wasn't much fun if I couldn't talk. But I guess I proved that with the right motivation, even I could keep myself off the radio for a short period of time. I don't know if I would've been able to do it for a whole month though (Then again for enough money...... Everyone has their price). Nobody seemed interested in taking it to the next level, so I guess I'll never find out.