the great iPhone misadventure
[I don't normally write posts like this, but I decided to write something in my OkCupid journal and cross post it here. Let's play: Find all the spelling and grammar errors...]
Like more than 1.5 million people yesterday, I spent not-an-insignificant portion of my day in a line--about 3.5 hours, realistically--queued behind fanboys, fangirls, and the occasional grandmother who thought she was waiting to have her driver's license renewed. No fewer than 300 people were patiently standing, sitting, or curled up in the fetal position when I arrived at the Pentagon City Apple store to pick up my reserved iPhone4.
I walked the length of the horde, which stretched roughly half way around the circular complex, and took my place at the rear.
"This is the reserve line?" I said with an inflection of disbelief. The guy in front of me just stared blankly. We exchanged silence. He asked gingerly, demonstrating that he wasn't a native English speaker, "iPhone?"
Here I found myself in an interesting predicament.
1. I didn't know if this was the correct line.
2. I speak 1.5 languages--the .5 being Pig Latin.
3. The guy in front of the guy in front me had his headphones in.
4. So did the girl in front of him.
I decided to wing it. "This is the line for reserved iPhone, I think." He tilted his head a bit in the universal "quizzical look" gesture. He replied, "No reserve."
Here I found myself in an interesting predicament.
1. Did he mean that he didn't have a phone reserved?
2. Did he mean that this wasn't the reserve line?
3. Was he making a statement about America's energy policy?
Finding no way to remedy this situation, I began reaching for my headphones when a woman approached quickly, speaking a language I didn't understand--read: all of them. She walked up to the guy in front of me, and they exchanged (seemingly) angry words. She pointed at the store. He pointed at the store. She pointed at her watch. He pointed at me. I waved. She pointed at the store again. They walked away hurriedly.
Score. One spot closer to magical goodness. (Or was that the iPad...?)
Then I waited, last in line, by myself, hungry and somewhat parched. I brought nothing but my bag from work--inside which the most edible item was a book on social media. After twenty minutes of fascinating standing--I'd describe it but I don't want this post to become as pointless as most of the scenes in Lord of the Rings--the line finally moved. I picked up my bag, threw it over my shoulder, and walked forward six steps. Then I took my bag off my shoulder, put it back on the ground, and resumed standing. Repeat ad nauseum.
This post-modern line dance continued for what seemed like 2.5 hours but was actually closer to 2.3. The highlight / worst part about the standing was when people started showing up behind me. At first it was exciting--new people wearing headphones to avoid conversation! Yes! Then hunger hit hard, and my active imagination hit overdrive, scheming and planning ways to barter with the folks around me so I could get some food.
Plan 1: Pay the guy-in-front-of-me's girlfriend to get me a Subway sandwich much like she did for her now-not-hungry boyfriend. I would politely ask if she would accept $20 to run down to the lower level to retrieve a six inch ... and that's when I realized that this was going to be impossible. Here's what I wanted: A six inch tuna on wheat with provolone cheese (untoasted), lettuce, onion, banana peppers, jalapenos, cucumber, salt & pepper, and a dash of light mayo; regular baked Lays; and a Minute Maid Light Lemonade. Having nothing to write with, I abandoned plan 1.
Plan 2: I turned to the kid behind me who was, luckily, writing in a journal! My keen powers of perception picked up on his checking his watch and touching his stomach. He was obviously hungry. This was going to be a cinch. I decided that I would announce my hunger to him in a I'm-trying-to-make-conversation sort of way. When he inevitably responded, "Me, too," I would offer to give him money and save his place in line if he ran down to Subway and got me a six inch tuna, etc. Because I tend to get Machiavellian when my blood sugar drops, I assumed that he would say, "Why don't I give you money and you go instead?" To which I would reply, "Because, good sir, I have nothing to gain from your leaving the line since you are directly behind me. It's in my self-interest to save your spot while you get me food. On the contrary, I'm in front of you, and if I were to leave with a mere $5 of your money, it may be worth it for you to move ahead one space and disavow our prior agreement upon my return." Or something like that.
But as I was refining my rhetoric, the kid behind me turned to the guy behind him and asked, "Hey, do you mind if I go get something to eat?" That guy, whose headphones must have been on a rather low volume, simply replied, "Sure, no problem." The kid left.
Plan 3: Do exactly what that kid did.
But by the time I collected by focus, an Apple representative, who may well have been royalty judging by the celebration of her arrival, made her way through the line. But instead of weaving pleasant tapestries, she sung tales of woe at the store and displeasure at the Kingdom's feudal laws. [End silly metaphor.]
Apparently, the mall had a strict policy that would not let Apple stay open after hours. And there was much groaning. They would not be able to get us our phones this evening. But the fair Apple maiden did not leave us empty handed. In place of iPhone, she granted us favors of Holy "Extended Reservation Vouchers." And there was a little bit of rejoicing--more so, less groaning. [OK. I'm really done now.]
Walking back to the Metro, shiny new voucher in hand, I thought this is what pre-historic man must have felt like, devoting time and braving the elements to hunt game only to end up with a coupon for future stores of mammoth rump.
It wasn't all bad, though. At least I made some new friends--foreign-language guy (and his sister/wife/girlfriend), guy in front of me wearing headphone, kid behind me wearing headphones and writing in his journal, and who could forget you, Apple maiden. You were the fairest of them all.
[P.S. -- I did get my shiny new iPhone today. (Thanks, Keith-the-Apple-guy.) It works beautifully. I used it to find a barbecue recipe for mammoth.]