I am not a crazy tech fanboi or anything. I wasn't doing any Apple store camping for the honor of being the first to sport a new iPhone last year. I don’t even own a first gen iPhone. (Although I do own an iPodTouch). But I have to be honest here, when Apple’s all in one device was released in 2007, only one thing kept me form cueing up street side behind the masses of geeks, breathing CO2 emissions and slurping down Red Bulls in jittery anticipation of owning the sweet, sweet iPhone - my desire to stay married.
My wife is a no-nonsense Scotch Irish Texan. The idea of her husband standing in line in the wee hours of the morning to spend six bills on a sleek, shiny iPhone would be too much for her to wrap her head around. As it is, coming across one of my old iPods collecting dust in some random spot in the house is enough to push her to the other side of crazy (she thinks of them as perfectly fine, I think of them as intolerably obsolete). I decided that for the sake of marital bliss I would keep my iPhone fantasies, well, fantasies.
But that was sooo 2007. It was with the secrecy of a Columbian hostage rescue team that I awoke Friday morning determined to bag this year’s new iPhone3G. I just couldn't wait until 2009 this time.
Friday July 11th
The big day. My plan? Drop my kids off at their respective summer day camps and sneak off to my neighborhood Apple store. But after dropping off my daughter at her camp, I was outflanked by my son. On the way to his camp he asks, “Dad? Since you have the day off, can I hang out with you instead?” Ouch. What I’m going to say? “No you can’t spend the day with your pops who spends a lot of time traveling for work, because he has to partake in the crazy ritual of standing in line for a super cool gadget that he will most likely toss in a recycle bin this time next year.”
I really do want to hang out with him so I let him ditch camp today. Now the question I grapple with, is it healthy to expose a seven year old to the gross consumer display that is Apples cult of personality?
We arrive at the Sherman Oaks Fashion Square mall around 9am. Almost immediately, it is obvious that we are already hours behind schedule. The line outside the Apple store is a quarter mile long. I actually anticipated long lines, so on the way to the mall; I did a little recon at two AT&T stores in the area. Those lines were shorter but the AT&T stores were already sold out. So the Apple store was going to be my only chance. As soon as we get in line, my son is already giving me “the look” he inherited from his mother. An aqua t-shirted Apple store employee is handing out electrolyte water to thirsty geeks up and down the line. I ask him about how long it will take. “All day, like at least six hours” he responds. Six hours? Mmm…that’s not too bad. I ask the boy what he thinks and he reacts with these words, “Dad, se-we-iously. Do you think standing in line six hou-wahs to buy a phone is we-asonable?” Grrrr. My seven-year-old son is making too much sense for my taste.
Saturday July 12thI have both kids today; my wife is at her monthly knitting club. Earlier in the morning, the voice in my head was telling me to forget it. There is no way my daughter is going to wait in any line. Her patience is tested just waiting for the channel to change from CNN to Nickelodeon in the morning. Besides, I promised I would take them to see WALL-E today. But hey, nothing wrong with swinging by the Apple store first! Back at the mall, my son gives me “the look” and shakes his head the second we turn the corner. I’m not sure, but I think the same people are still in line from the day before. My daughter, blissfully unaware, asks in her little voice, “Is this the way to WALL-E?” Today’s a wash. No iPhone, but I still figured out a way to give Steve Jobs money! WALL-E was another fantastic Pixar movie. It had some message about waste and mass consumerism or something… I forget.
Sunday, July 13th
I show up outside the Apple store in the afternoon. The line? Manageable, I decide. Alone and armed with my biography of Mao Zedong, I’m in for the long haul. The people around me are a mixed bag of gadget geeks; twenty-something hipsters and older parents waiting in line for their teenage kids (while said kids are at the food court, of course). I guess every generation knows how to make suckers out of their parents. While reading, I am interrupted by occasional cheering from the front of the line. It seems every time somebody gets inside, it’s a small victory for us all.
After three hours and some decent progress, a store manager comes out and announces to my part of the line that the store closes in an hour, at 6pm. “There is no reason to wait,” he says. “You won’t get in by closing.” Looks of stunned disbelief and frustration all around. Half a dozen people peel off. But, I decided it was nothing more than a loyalty test. Remember that scene in Fight Club when Brad Pitt and Ed Norton trade insults to recruits of “Project Mayhem,” leaving them standing outside their house? In one scene Norton refuses to let a recruit in because, he yells, “You’re too… pretty!” But the recruit stands fast and gets in. Loyalty, you see. Well that was me, Jared Leto! If I hang tough, they won’t keep me out!
But, as it turns out, they will. And they did…keep me out. I figure, it just wasn’t meant to be. I mean it’s only a dumb gadget, right.
Yeah, well…what time does the Apple store close today? I think I can make it, this time.
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