Before I begin this story let me tell you something, “I do not like lines…not standing in them, near them, on them or anywhere around them. Also, I have never eaten green eggs and ham and I deplore lines because that is just who I am.”

Now on to my adventure of how I ended up standing in a line for 3 ½ hours. Blame it on the iPad 2 or, as Flip Wilson used to say, “The Devil made me do it.”
You see, here is what actually happened…

Last Friday, March 11th, 2011 the much anticipated Apple iPad 2 went on sale in Apple stores at 5 pm. Yes 5 in the afternoon. I knew that I wanted to purchase one for my business, but spending hours upon hours in a line on a Friday afternoon? Get real! I figured that I would wait for all the hype to die down and just mosey into a store, pick up the one I wanted and get on with my life.

I was following the news and saw more than 300 + people lined up outside of our local Apple store at the Cerritos Mall.

I furrowed my brow in astonishment, asking myself why people would do this. Why would people subject themselves to this sort of torture?

(Ok, I never said that I was the smartest person in the world so before you start judging me, just read the rest of the tale.)

I figured I would do it an easier way. I figured that I would go the to mall the next morning and swoop up my 64 gig iPad 2 and be out of the door in a matter of minutes. I know, I know… you are thinking that I may not be grounded in reality. I have to admit that sometimes I have occasion to question my own intelligence.

Continuing on. I woke up the next morning and remembered that the store at Cerritos mall opened at 9 am or so. I think. I wasn’t sure but it didn’t matter because I had chosen to take my day slowly and enjoy a pace in opposition of the weekly hustle and bustle.

I headed out the door about 8:15 or 8:30 am and stopped at my local Starbucks to get a muffin and some apple juice. Yes I said apple juice. I don’t drink coffee. I just don’t.
So I arrived at the mall in Cerritos and when I walked in there was a line of people standing outside of the Apple store. There were about 60 people standing in line! There was a line there! A line! You know how much I hate lines!

So what did I do? I went and got in line behind the last person. Why? Because I wanted an iPad 2, of course.

Are you laughing at me yet? Wait, allow me to finish.

I started talking with the guy in front of me who told me that the store didn’t open until 10:00 am.

In an age of an overabundance of information and technology I had failed to simply “Google” the store to find out what time they actually opened. Once again, I didn’t say that I was the brightest bulb in the bunch.

I decided that waiting for about another 40 minutes or so for the store to open wouldn’t be such a bad idea, after all, I had my muffins and apple juice and no where to really be and I had already decided to make this one of my slow-motion days. Yes, I actually have a name for days that I consciously choose to move slower than every one else. I call them my “slow-motion” days and I love them.

So, while I was standing in line, there were people starting to arrive behind me. The closer we got to 10 am, the longer the line grew. By the time the representative from the store came out to make an announcement there were about 100 people behind me. Incredible!

The Apple store rep came out and announced that they were out of iPads and didn’t know when, or if, they would be getting any more ….but that possibly, or maybe, there was a chance that they might have a shipment coming into the store sometime during the day. She then advised us that if we chose to wait in line it was our choice, but to not expect anything.

Nobody moved. I was processing the confusing jumble of information that I had just received when the people in front of me helped give me clarity. “There is a delivery of iPads coming in sometime today.” That is what she said, “a delivery coming today.” No one moved. Why? Because there was a delivery coming sometime today.
It is amazing how the human mind begins to rationalize. I told myself, just like everyone else there that day, “Hey there is a shipment of iPads coming in sometime today.”
Have you been in a spot like that? Have you turned your desire for something into a series of rationalizations? I was quickly falling into that space. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one.

Within minutes, our little line turned into a small village of sorts. People began communicating and others went on reconnaissance missions for provisions (food, water, cupcakes). It was awesome. I forgot I was standing in a line and simply began enjoying the moment. It was odd. I, the man who had waged war on lines all of his life was standing in one and enjoying himself.”

Our villages joy-buzz was displaced by the buzz-killing Apple manager who came out of the store and informed us that they had no information and knew nothing. She also said that, “if” a shipment did come in there definitely would not be enough for all of the people in line.
She looked right at me and said, “I would just go home if I were you.”

Her words didn’t seem to penetrate my “I want an iPad 2” filter. I had clearly heard, like everyone else, “A shipment of iPad 2’s will be in “sometime” today.”
Many people started exiting the line, abandoning our little village. It was actually sort of sad. We had built up a camaraderie in our tiny “line village” and we were slowly losing citizens to hopelessness.

I have been accused of many things in my life, but I have never been accused of being hopeless. I watched people settle back into their spots, and once the Apple interloper had receded back into the confines of the store our joy slowly returned.

Approximately half an hour later, our conversations and laughs were interrupted by a sudden cheer erupting from the front of the line.
A Fedex delivery truck had just entered through the front door of the Apple Store! People were jumping and clapping. I got swept up in the mob mentality and felt a strong desire to do my own little happy dance.

The Apple Authoritarian came out and issued her proclamation that she would be opening the delivery boxes soon and that she would come out and ration tickets to the limited number of souls that would receive an iPad 2, according to their place in line. Once again, she looked down the line in my direction and shook her head in a disapproving manner. Again she stated, “I really would not wait around if I were you guys. There are not that many in the shipment.”

All I heard was, “The iPad 2’s just arrived”.

A little while later, applause erupted again as a platoon of 5 to 7 Apple store soldiers headed toward the line led by their brave buzz-killing leader.

Gripped tightly in her left hand, she had those highly sought after little white tickets! She began distributing them to each person in line from the front and heading back. “Each person may purchase 2 iPads!” She announced as she looked my way. There was that look again! That disapproving, “You’re wasting your time here because I don’t have that many tickets look.”

I stood my ground. 3 ½ hours and counting.

I heard some people down the line grumbling as they left. They were way ahead of me. What had happened? Everyone near me wanted to know. Were all of the tickets handed out already?

The guys leaving explained that there were no more A.T. & T. iPads, only Verizon. More deflated souls departed the line ahead of me. Why didn’t I leave? I’m not sure because I had wanted to purchase the 64 gig, A.T. & T. model. I wanted it because of its SIM card capabilities. I probably should have left but something told me to just hang out, after all it was a slow-motion day and this was getting interesting.

The Apple commandant slowly made her way down the line as she announced, “There are only the 32 gig Verizon models left.”

She was about 5 people down from me and I couldn’t tell how many tickets she had left, but I knew she had some so I stood my ground. She was 4 people away and then 2.
She had 2 tickets left and there were 2 people in front of me. I don’t know why but this made me smile inside, it was a bit humorous. She had 2 tickets left and there were only 2 people in front of me, a guy and his girlfriend. It turned out that she didn’t want an iPad and so there was one ticket left.

Who got it? Me.

I felt like I had just won some grand prize, the lottery or something. There was a huge communal grumble from the line behind me. People were pointing at me saying, “He’s the last one.” I had earned a title in our little dissipating village. I was “The One.” The “Last One” to be more precise and I wore my honorific title with a sense of pride.

As I stood there with the Verizon 32 gig ticket in my hand which would allow me to purchase an iPad 2, reality began to set in. I hadn’t wanted a 32 gig Verizon iPad, I had wanted a 64 gig A. T. & T.

I didn’t feel sad about it though, I simply rationalized my acceptance and felt the joy of being “The One.”

The guy in front of me gave his condolences that I didn’t get the 64 gig. I told him that things usually work out so well for me that I had no room to complain in life.
The employees started coming out getting us one-by-one to bring us into the store to purchase our iPads.

We stood in line being brought in one-by-one for about another 40 minutes when a guy about 4 people in front of me started shaking his head in disappointment. There may have only been about 15 or so of us still left in the village, but we were still capable of demonstrating concern for one another. I leaned in close to him and asked what was wrong. Here is what he said, no joke, “I took 2 tickets but I don’t really want to purchase 2 iPads. I only want the Verizon one.”

The second ticket in his hand was for an A. T. & T. 64 gig. He turned to me and said, “Hey didn’t you want a 64 gig A. T. & T?” He then just handed me the ticket. Wow!
So I’m standing there now with 2 tickets. A number of people gave me cheers and bright smiles. The guy directly in front of me said, “You got exactly what you wanted. I see what you mean about things working out for you.”

I turned to a guy that had appeared behind me who should have gone home but didn’t. I asked him if he wanted my 32 gig Verizon ticket. His face lit up. He had chosen to just stay in line when all others had given up hope. He was rewarded by my giving him that “last ticket.” It was a bit sad to pass on my honorific title of being “The One” but all good things must come to an end. Everyone in line was happy, especially me.

There is another bit of reality that struck me. I, along with many others, had stood in line for hours to give our money over to a retail establishment for an item that has a shelf life of approximately a year before a newer, shinier version will come out and make it look antiquated. If this is a bad economy then the parking lot at the mall doesn’t know it.

I went into the store and purchased my 64 gig A.T. & T. iPad 2.

What will I do next? Buy more stock in Apple of course.

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