digital nation - life on the virtual frontier

A worthwhile wait

June 19, 2009 _ 12:32 / Digital Nation Team / comments (1)

Let me just start by saying I'm a Macophile. And an early adopter: I bought the first generation iPhone the first day it came out. A couple of weeks ago, like thousands of other Apple devotees, I waited with 'bated breath for the rumored announcement at WWDC and wasn't disappointed: the third iPhone model was scheduled for 6/19, complete with a new OS, onboard compass, and built-in video camera. Of course, I had to have it.
photo of line outside the apple store
In case I missed all that, though, Apple kindly e-mailed me (about four times) to remind me the new iPhone was coming and that I ought to reserve one for myself ahead of time online. That seemed like a pretty good idea, so I signed up.

Walking up to the Apple store in Manhattan's Meatpacking district this morning, I suddenly realized it was probably stupid to have walked by Dunkin' Donuts without stopping in for coffee, because it was obviously going to be a bit of a wait. The line for walk-ins was perhaps 10 times shorter than the line of online reservations. That line extended from the Apple store on the corner to the La Perla store a few buildings down, maybe fifty people.

As we waited, Apple employees walked down the line handing out bottles of water and offering umbrellas to folks in the sun. Thanks, Apple!

photo of line outside the apple storeAn hour later, I was pretty sure people were cloning themselves ahead of us - this was taking forever! We'd moved up as far as the old Western Beef, now home to Hugo Boss and Moschino. The woman in front of me lamented the gentrification of the neighborhood. Later on, she described sitting down to her mother's PC to check e-mail, "I couldn't do anything on a PC. Everything was just so ugly."

Pretty much everyone in line was checking e-mail, reading the news or chatting (mostly about the wait) on their current phones -- many, like mine, earlier generation iPhones. By this point, we'd established the rules of the line: they'd let in six reservations and one walk-up at a time.

Breathe in. Breathe out. Wait. Wish for coffee. Wait more.

Waiting, past a certain point, transmogrifies into a sort of forced Zen meditation. You've waited so long that leaving no longer seems like an option, and all you can do is settle into it. I reflected that, for all the high-tech pre-registration and the high-tech gadget I was waiting for, this particular process of consumerism still relied on a human body taking up a physical space for an extended period of time. There are fewer and fewer moments in our lives that demand such long, forced inactivity these days. There's something liberating about knowing you can't go anywhere or do anything but be right where you are.

photo of line outside the apple storeMeanwhile, rumors abound: AT&T stores are completely sold out of the new phones. They're back-ordered online, you can't get them. The rumors have the ring of a lie you tell yourself to try to feel better. (At any rate, I wasn't able to substantiate any of them when I got back to my computer later on).

Finally, we reached the head of the line - at last! Our orange-shirted shepherds finally let my group of six up to the front, where we were passed off to individual sales reps to pick up and pay for our coveted devices. The actual purchase and activation took all of ten minutes - almost a let-down after all that waiting.

Success at last! Stumbling out of the store, still bleary-eyed from getting up two hours early to join the queue, I took one more photo of those poor still-waiting folks on my shiny new phone. Then I switched over to one of the features new to this model, the compass, and started navigating back to the subway, with one last thought: I hope for the next model, they can eliminate the physical wait. Where's the app for that?

- Fedde

Comments

You are a slave of mac, I have a mac too, but i can still use a PC. What's important is what you do with it, not what it is. Reach the goal, not the tool!

Heyli / September 05, 2009 _ 20:20

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posted February 2, 2010

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