“What time did you get here?” the kid with ‘Dakota’ on his name tag asked Lena. He was clean cut and friendly and wearing a blue T-shirt and jeans, the uniform for everyone at the Apple store that day.
“Five o’clock.” she answered, smiling and eager to get the deed done and her hands on the newest technological marvel.
“Wow.” Dakota said. “I don’t think I even woke up until six.”
Lena became solemn. “It’s my tribute to Steve.” Dakota nodded soberly.
It was funny, but it was also kinda bullshit. The truth was that Lena would have been perfectly content showing up later that afternoon and getting her phone without waiting in any lines. Five o’clock was all my doing. Jacksonville has enough Apple business and is central to enough outlying districts to qualify for its own store, and the Apple store gets buckets and buckets of new product for a launch day. However, while they’ll get around to it eventually, most of my fellow townsmen simply do not feel the sense of happening that I do during times like this. (Yes, I know that I am setting myself up to be made fun of for being a nerd by a bunch of nerds. Fuck alla you guys.)
See, here’s the way I think of this. I know I want to the phone. It’s a clear improvement over my (very) old phone, takes phenomenally better pictures and 1080i video, I can video mirror to my TV, and yes, Siri is just as amazing as everyone says it is. So I can act like it’s no biggie and go down to the store whenever I happen to get there, buy my phone, and pretend that nothing of moment happened like the cool kids do, or… I can give in to my inner geek, have as much fun as I want to with the whole event, and make some entertaining memories. I am not above this.
So at five o’clock A.M. Lena and I joined the small crowd outside the Apple store in our brand new folding canvas chairs and began chatting, laughing, and playing with various video games and Facebook while we passed the time. The Starbucks opened at six, and the Apple folks provided water, apple (naturally) and orange juice.
There was a reporter there chatting on his phone (an Android, he admitted… but to mitigate the blow he told everyone it was provided to him by the TV station) and being pestered by the mall cops. (It’s an outdoor mall, but mall cops are the same wherever you go.) It seemed that when he arrived the mall cops (you know, I think I’m just going to call them mops) immediately grabbed him and told him that he was not allowed to talk to anyone on camera. When he said “okay” they decided that he couldn’t take any shots with the video camera at all, and if he did, they would call the real police and have him arrested.
At this point the cameraman left.
The reporter, irritated but undeterred, spoke of his rights and the lack of authority of mops in general. The mops spoke of long handled flashlights and trespassing charges for people who were on the property during non-business hours and not there to buy a phone. The reporter called his boss and complained, the mops sulked and bitched to each other about how everyone there was stupid because all those fucking phones are the fucking same anyway. (I kid you not.) The reporter’s boss did the first intelligent thing anyone had thought to do and somehow arranged for a group of state troopers to show up and oversee the proceedings.
When the troopers arrived the mops ran to them as a group to whine and point at the reporter, apparently thinking daddy would take care of the problem. The scene reminded me of the moment in LotR when the regular and scrawny old orcs meet the new and improved uruk-hai. The mops were uniformly old, skinny, and somewhat withered looking with pinched, frowning faces. The effect was exacerbated in comparison to the troopers, who were young, tall, broad shouldered, and smiling. They practically glowed with cheerful power.
The first thing they did was to tell the mops to “Calm the fuck down.” and to stop bothering the reporter. To the reporter they gave permission to call his camera guy back and get all the video he wanted. The mops withdrew to a corner to engage in some really serious power sulking while the reporter bopped all around asking people questions and talking about the new phone. A client I’m currently working with was chatting with his wife in their kitchen when he heard the reporter talking about the launch and his wife asked him if he thought I’d be there. Seconds later I appeared front and center on their screen and they both burst out laughing. “That motherfucker better have my drawings ready!” he shouted at the screen in mock anger.
Soon afterwards the store opened up and Lena and I were let in to meet Dakota. We got the sixteenth and the seventeenth iPhone 4s to be owned in Jacksonville. I bought both of them with the money that the client shaking his fist at the TV screen paid me for a previous job. (Lena probably wouldn’t have gotten one except I offered. She just would have pouted every time I spoke to mine to set an appointment or have it call someone. It was worth it to get her her own.)
I have been happy with my new phone so far. It is a significant improvement from my old iPhone 3, and its ease of use has already made my life a lot happier. (I had difficulty before remembering to schedule appointments and events on our calendar, which drove Lena crazy. The system was imperfect, and we would occasionally double-book. Trouble when you only have one car.) Now I just tell the phone to do it, and it takes care of it for me. Lena is already less stressed over it. Mostly though I just feel happy that Lena and I were able to share an extra bit of fun together, taking something as trivial and mundane as getting a phone and turning it into something kinda neat we’ll remember.
Yeah, I know it’s stupid. But it’s my kinda stupid.