A Diplomatic Solution to a Channel Conflict.
Or, if you can't beat 'em, reason with them....
The time was late fall 1976, and I had recently settled in as a member of the Channel 6 CB group. This group was a bit different from my earlier Channel 10 group. The biggest difference was that Channel 10 was made up mostly of school aged teenagers (most of whom went to my school), with a few older unrelated adults. The Channel 6 group, on the other hand, had, in addition to the teenagers, a significant number of family units where the father, mother, and kid(s) all talked on the channel. It was a great way to keep track of the comings and goings of family members in the days before cell phones. Also, especially from the parent's standpoint, it was a way to "oversee" the activities of their kids, and to keep tabs on what they were doing, and who they were doing it with. This "parental supervision" aspect of Channel 6 tended to act as a calming effect on any of us getting a little too carried away with our on-air antics, in much the same way as having a chaperone at a party. It even affected those of us (like me) who didn't have their parent's ever watchful ear pinned to the CB speaker. Indeed, I had a little trouble adjusting to this in the beginning, and had been read the riot act a few times. Rather than risk further alienating myself, I began to tow the line and put a lid on my wild, free-for-all attitude. They say that certain behavioral habits rub off from other people, and during my time on channel 6, my attitude did mature a few notches from what it had been in years prior if, for no other reason, than I was conditioned that way due to exposure to other similarly acting people. So it was, with this newly found "maturity", that I turned a potential on-air conflict into a mutually acceptable solution.
It all started when we were actively talking one afternoon after our typical day at school. The school year was no more than a month old so we were still getting used to our next year in high school. It was the usual fare, talking about the classes that we were taking, the teachers that we had, and comparing the curriculums between the 3 major school districts that our group were part of. All was progressing as would be expected. Then someone started complaining about some more distant stations not asking for a break, and just talking over us. In fact, they acted as if they didn't even know (or care) that we were there. I didn't hear them at first because they were off the back corner of my beam, where the rejection was the greatest. So naturally, I had to swing the beam around to see what all the fuss was about and to get a general idea where they were coming from. I was able to determine that they were in a WSW direction from my location. Judging from their signals, they appeared to be about 5 or so miles away. This mini "squatter" group consisted of two or three teenaged guys and one girl. Once I figured out where they were coming from, I fired up my Contex amplifier, and attempted to get their attention. Naturally they heard me and once I had their attention, I then inquired as to what they were doing on "our" channel. I guess they didn't like my tone, and I'll admit it probably wasn't the friendliest, and they gave me a blow off, smart ass answer, along the lines of: "You don't own the channel and we'll talk here if we want". With that, I soon felt that old fire rising up inside me, as it had in days past, when my friends and I got into similar altercations with other groups. Initially succumbing to my old, familiar habits, I then threatened to shut them down, and proceeded to key over them. A few of the other people in my area joined in the "fight" as well. But it was all for naught, as they were evidently close enough to each other that I was not able to override all of them. But I did manage to keep their attention, and I kept hurling insults their way hoping to "encourage" them to leave.
The interference problem continued for a few days and it looked as if nothing was going to change any time soon. After my initial anger had faded and I looked at the situation with a clear, more rational mindset, I came to the realization that the situation was not going to be resolved unless the stakes changed, and they were given a reason to be concerned. So I decided to track them down, with the intent on disrupting them from the mobile, which would be far more effective when I was a few blocks away, rather than 5 miles. Having recently become the proud owner of my first car, I now had the capability to track people at will and from a greater distance, which was a major improvement over the limitations of my former 2 wheel primary mode of transportation. But along with tracking them down, and making their communications a bit rough, I also got the bizarre idea to give them a good scare by "playing" FCC. Back in those days, fear of the FCC was still prevalent, especially among newbies, and rumors of their presence were always being circulated around the channels. So I decided to play into that naive paranoia. At the very least I figured I'd get a good laugh out of their reaction. At best, they'd leave the channel and never come back. So with that in mind, I equipped my car with every extra antenna that I could find, including my standard Antenna Specialist's base loaded trunk mount, my DF loop, a gutter mount, and a magnet mount that I borrowed from another CB'er. I took a picture of the setup which you can see here. Once I was all set, I headed out in the direction that my beam told me our squatter group was in. It didn't take me long to find them, as they were clustered in a fairly small group in the Audubon area of Montgomery County. Once I found them all, I started dumping carriers on them when I was in front of their houses. My strong signal caused them some alarm, and I guess at least one of them looked outside as my mobile antenna farm was eventually spotted. Initially there was some speculation by the group of FCC involvement, their predictable paranoia gave me a good laugh. But that soon passed, as they thought harder about it (darn!). But I did get their attention.
I was now armed with a list of addresses, and I was all set to start announcing them at regular intervals. The thought was that the revelation of such personal information would serve as an incentive for the squatters to leave. But then a strange thing happened. I don't know if that newly found maturity was starting to rub off on me or what, but I suddenly, and inexplicably, softened in my attitude. Instead of announcing their addresses and remaining confrontational, I chose to pursue a softer, more diplomatic posture. I started by trying to reason with these guys. I explained the interference problem that they were causing, and how it affected our people. I asked them if they had any special reason why they were on Channel 6. They replied that they just chose 6 simply because it had been quiet at the time. I then offered them a potential solution. Having recently abandoned Channel 10 due to a fall off in activity there, I suggested that they try Channel 10, as it should now be a fairly clear channel. So they moved to 10, found it suitable to their liking, and decided to stay there. So just like that, the problem was solved. I was rather shocked myself, at just how easy that was. I even received words of praise from the CB Club officers at the next meeting, for finding a diplomatic solution to the problem. Eventually, a few of our people would jump up to 10 to say hello out that way on a fairly regular basis. The girl, who's handle turned out to be Cinderella, ended up becoming a friend who I stayed in touch with right up into the early 80's.
The lessons learned in this exercise were that not everyone who interferes with you is a troublemaking miscreant. Sometimes they're just people like you and me, who want the same things that we do, and just need a little respect and a way to save face. Sometimes giving them that easy way out is better than precipitating a needless fight. And in the process, you might even make a new friend or two. It would be nice if some of the CB'ers on the air today would learn that lesson.........