I told the guy who would be buying my old phone that I would call him when I was out of the Apple store. “What time do you think that will be”, he asked. I wanted to be CONSERVATIVE, so I replied, “about 9:00am. I’m getting there at 6:45, so i can’t imagine it will take that long.” I’m a first-class fool.
6:30am I put my 5-year-old in the car and told her she was going with me to “pick-up my new iPhone” at the mall. I figured she would get fidgety in the store, but we wouldn’t be there that long. At one point, while driving to Crabtree Valley Mall in Raleigh, NC, my daughter asked, “Mommy, what is wrong?” I told her I was anxious and had a lot to do today. “I just want to get in, get out, and get you to the pool with your aunt,” I said. A few minutes later, we pulled into the mall parking lot and I looked at all the cars. I think I said out loud, “Elin, these cars must be mall employees and the people who walk the mall when it’s too hot outside. Surely, they can’t all be here for the new iPhone.” Again, first-class fool.
We park and head in. I can’t begin to articulate how I felt the first time I got a look at the crowd. The line. The masses. I’ve been at Crabtree Valley Mall on Black Friday and I don’t think I’ve ever seen that many people on one floor. I’ve been to Disney World and I’ve never seen a line that long. I took and deep breath, tried to remain cool, and walked around the people with sleeping bags and lawn chairs. I kept walking. I walked some more, turned 4 corners, went down a hallway and into the food court. I saw the end of the line and like a first-class fool, I decided to stand in it.
But then things really started looking up. I was NOT a fool. I had reserved my iPhone and I was in the correct line. Clearly, there were only 200 people in this line. Whew! My goal of 9:00am was totally do-able. Smile on face, cocky swagger kicking in.
8:40 am After a visit from my husband with Starbucks in one hand and muffin the other, I was feeling pretty refreshed. My daughter was chill and I spotted two other moms who had brought their kids. I wasn’t the worst mom on the planet…just 3rd or 4th. It was going a little slower than I thought, but I knew there were only 150 people in front of me MAX and the line seemed to be moving.
9:30am I turned the corner and saw the store! I was in! Maybe 75 people in front of me. I was golden.
9:31am A lovely mall security officer came over and said, “we are going to move this line. We need to get the food court cleared for lunch.” There were 400 people behind me at this point, so this made sense. We were herded like techy-nerd cattle and put into a line down the hallway. This is when my day was officially over. I realized the line I was in, which had put me close to the entrance of the store, actually wrapped around the perimeter of the mall. There were 700 people IN FRONT of me. Good-bye, day.
10:00am My 5-year-old was a little antsy, so I called Aunt Bonnie to give her some relief. ” PLEASE come and pick her up and take her to the pool!”
10:30am Aunt Bonnie arrives and my daughter informs me she would like to stay. She wants to see what’s behind those glass doors. No way is she missing out. This is actually the most compelling part of the day. The excitement in the mall was energizing. These 2000 people were all pumped. We were surrounded by strangers but we all had something in common. The converstation for the last 3 hours was high def camera, retina screens, mult-tasking and apps. It was a mall full of people, some who had been since 10pm the night before, some who were just hanging with friends. But we were wired from the thrill of the hunt because we were all early-adapters. My daughter had picked up on this energy, and she wasn’t leaving.
11:00am Did I mention energy? I introduced my daughter to suicide drills, which she executed beautifully in front of Bath and Body Works.
11:30am Food! Apple paid for a truck load of subs.
12:30pm My iPhone 3GS is dead. This is the worse possible thing that could have happened. No more tweeting. No more facebook. This day was going downhill fast.
12:30pm – 1:59pm This was not pretty. It was still exciting and the energy was great, but I was starting to smell and my neighbors were realizing I skipped my usual hygiene routine this morning (remember, I was going to be home by 9…I would bathe then). We were all hungry and thirsty. We weren’t talking as much. The guys at the Brookstone store were laughing at us. Actually, everyone not involved in this insanity were laughing. They walked by the nerds behind the rope lines and pointed. “No way” and “idiots” was overheard many times. I was starting to agree.
2:00pm I’m the next in line to enter the store. I’m feeling good. The lighted apple icon above me was almost a symbol of success. The finish line. At this point, it’s not about the phone, it’s about finishing this marathon.
2:05pm I’m in the store. I can’t believe it. My sister (Aunt Bonnie) is documenting on her iPhone. The employees were calm, the store was comfortable, the police officers out front didn’t arrest my sister for photographing an Apple store. But most importantly, I had my new iPhone. I did not have a shower, and that was the next thing on my list. I know my line mates were thinking the same thing (about me, not them).
2:45pm Home. Synced. My daughter starving. My voicemail going nuts. I don’t care. I stood in line for 7 hours to get a phone I could have ordered and had shipped to my house by mid-July. But I’m a first-class fool. A first-class fool with a sweet iPhone.