Everyone has that thing that they really like — that “thing” could be anything: video games, notebooks, vintage clothes, cars, Starbucks mugs, music, television, and so forth. For me, that “thing” would be Apple products. From my first iPod touch four years ago to the iPhone 4 that I got two years ago, Apple has always been “that thing” in my life.
As you may know, the iPhone 5 was released yesterday in the United States, as well as countries such as Canada, Japan, Singapore, and the United Kingdom. For weeks, I’ve been ready to just go out and ditch my old iPhone 4 for the new iPhone 5. Since I didn’t have school yesterday, I thought “why not?” and convinced my mom that we should get the iPhone 5 on the release date.
Fine, I wasn’t really thinking “let’s wait in a line on my day off!” I’ll admit that I really just wanted to walk into school on Monday and be the coolest person with the shiny new iPhone 5. (If it means anything, my old phone’s home button wasn’t working, and it was deteriorating rather quickly.)
My morning started off at 5:20 AM with an alarm I forgot I set. Like most days, I turned off the alarm and rolled over to the other side of the bed. Did I really want to get up? Is it really worth it? Most of the time, I’d just answer my inner dialogue with “No, I’m going back to sleep” but today was different.
I trudged out of my bed, got dressed in jeans and a sweatshirt (I assumed it would be cold), and dragged myself downstairs. I filled my Manila travel mug with green tea before my mom and I left the house.
We made it to the mall at about 6 o’clock in the morning. My mom called the Apple Store on Thursday afternoon and she was told that the lines form outside the mall at around 9 PM the day before the release. They open the mall up at 6 AM and the Apple Store itself opens at 8 AM. Personally, I think it’s crazy to be waiting all night outside of a mall, but I guess there are people who want that iPhone 5 a lot more than I do.
After attempting to through a locked door, my mom and I found the correct entrance on the floor below us. I’m not sure how many people were in front of us, but it really seemed like a lot. You couldn’t even see the Apple Store from where we were standing.
By 7 AM, I realized that I was incredibly underprepared for waiting. Normally, I can sit down for long periods of time and not get as bored as other people I know, but let’s be serious. Waiting is boring. Extremely boring. How did I deal with these hours of just waiting? I played Angry Birds. Lots and lots of Angry Birds.
What made it less boring, though, were the people in front of and behind us in line. There was a middle-age woman who had to be at work by 9 AM, a middle-age man who also had work to go to, an older Chinese man, two teenage boys who brought pillows and backpacks (they came slightly more prepared), and a man who already knew what would happen since he waited in line for a previous release. When you wait in line early in the morning, you tend to bond just a little bit.
For some reason, the line moved forward a lot not once, but twice, before 8 AM. We were all bewildered by this — if the store isn’t open and no iPhones are being given out, the line should not be moving at all. Our biggest complaint was that it moved us far away from the benches.
As the time slowly got closer to the opening, some of us (my mom and me included) began furiously making sure we could actually buy our iPhones. Some people were checking their eligibility for an upgrade, others (like my mom and me) had to make sure we were authorized on our account.
There’s a reason the iPhone is held as a status symbol; buying a no-commitment iPhone 5 will cost between $650 to $850! However, buying it with a 2-year contract to AT&T, Verizon, or Sprint will lower the price to $199 for the 16 GB, $299 for the 32 GB, and $399 for the 64 GB. That’s a $450 difference! Needless to say, nearly everyone in that line was buying with a plan (or as an upgrade) rather than buying a no-committment phone.
As 8 AM approached, two young women came by passing Red Bull to anyone who was interested. I didn’t have any since I don’t drink energy drinks, but most of the people around me did. In the final fifteen minutes before the Apple Store would supposedly open, there was cheering, clapping, and whooping. I think the Apple Store employees were partly responsible…
As soon as 8 AM arrived, the line shifted dramatically again. Now, I could actually see the Apple Store!
At the time, Starbucks was offering some free food. The worst part was that they didn’t even make it to where I was standing. We were all hungry, and we would accept any amount of food, no matter how small.
A little bit after 8, maybe around 8:20, people started walking out of the Apple Store. They all grinned happily, and two of the young women walked out teary-eyed as they showed everyone their new iPhone 5. They each had a different color, and they let me look at them for a few seconds and feel how light they were.
As they moved towards the end of the line on their way to exiting, I heard something hard hit the floor and the collective gasp of the people line. Since there was no uncontrollable sobbing, I assume she just dropped the iPhone package containing the charger and headphones, not the actual iPhone itself. (That would be a nightmare, especially since they were there the night before.)
The line moved in clumps, so it was okay to sit down since you’d be sitting for a little bit before making a big move. As we made it forward, my heart stopped. I realized that we weren’t in a straight line to the Apple Store — we were actually being sent to another line that twisted and turned before leading to the left side of the Apple Store. After that, you’d be sent to another (much shorter) line on the right side of the Apple Store before entering one-at-a-time.
Eventually, we moved to Line #2. Making it to this line is a big accomplishment in my book. It’s in Line #2 where they ask you what size, color, and carrier you’re getting. Apparently, there was a high demand for white 16 GB iPhones since they sold out of those. (On the flip side, 56% of people at the Apple Store in Fifth Avenue wanted the black iPhone.) They also give you a little piece of paper with a barcode, price tag, and phone model that assures you a phone. You can also leave and come back later the same day. The middle-aged man ended up leaving since he had work, but the middle-aged woman stuck it out.
At first it seemed to be moving, but then it reached a point where it just… stopped. It was one of those annoying looped lines — you know, the ones that have you go around and around instead of just straight — that went around the Starbucks. It took us an hour and a half to go around one of the loops. There were two more.
I passed the time by going to Starbucks, coming back, drinking the free lemonade, sitting down, hoping my phone doesn’t die, running to Cinnabon and buying cinnamon rolls, eating them, throwing them away… Yes, it was boring.
You know what wasn’t boring though? The Apple Store on Fifth Avenue in New York.
One of the most well-known Apple Stores is located on Fifth Avenue and 59th Street in New York. Cited as one of the most beautiful Apple Stores in the world, it’s iconic for its large glass cube structure. If you were passing by, you’d see a large glass cube with a glowing Apple.
I insisted on going to this Apple Store at night (so that the Apple would be glowing), and it was the first time we truly used the New York subway system. I visited the Fifth Avenue Apple Store on the end of my second day in New York, mostly just to say I’ve been here.
There are always Apple employees standing outside the cube. If you walk inside, you can choose to take the spiral stairs down into the actual store or you can take the glass elevator that slowly descends into the store. (Which do you think is more fun?)
My mom and I took the elevator down into the store, walked around for a few minutes, and then went back up the elevator. Let’s be realistic here, what would we possibly buy? Apple is very expensive, and we’re traveling where sales tax is slightly higher (8.875% in New York City compared to 8.25% in Dallas).
So, if you really want to be technical about it, I made my mom go from downtown to uptown just so I could take a picture in front of a big glowing Apple. Like I said, I like Apple a lot.
It’s definitely difficult for me to get away from Apple. At this point, I don’t think I can get away even if I tried. I got a MacBook (not the Pro or Air, just the MacBook) from my grandparents in the Philippines since they bought it at an Apple Store over there and had no idea how to use it, I have an iPhone, and my school even started an iPad program where every student uses an iPad every single day.
The perk about the iPad is having constant internet access at the tips of your fingers, as well as having my textbooks for algebra and biology on it! It makes my backpack a lot lighter which makes me happier! And I can keep track of my assignments and class times all on the iPad.
Anyway, movement in the line was incredibly slow. The older Chinese man’s wife showed up, and they switched spots. Now his wife carried on, but she seemed just as close to us as her husband. My mom had enough time to go to one of the stores near the line and look around a little, but I think she got bored and came back.
A security guard yelled at us saying that we can’t sit in the chairs from Starbucks.
That bothered all of us, since we were all drinking Starbucks and felt we had a right to their chairs. No one was using them, and we were paying customers. When the security guard said she wanted the two chairs put back, no one moved because no one wanted to be bothered.
Look lady, we’ve been here all day and you’re telling us we can’t use the chairs from Starbucks even when we bought their drinks. No one’s happy with you, and no one’s going to volunteer to put away some chairs. The poor Apple Store employee had to put them away for us. The middle-aged lady was bothered by how rudely the security guard told us, and one of the teenage boys said that she “takes her job way too seriously” after she left.
It was about ten minutes after 11 AM when we could actually see Line #3. Now we were all stuck standing. The Apple Store’s lights were visible.
We were able to enter Line #3 at about 11:20. The only problem was that we got split up — the Chinese man’s wife and my mom and I were able to move forward, but the teenage boys and the middle-aged woman got left behind in Line #2. The middle-aged man came back from work and reclaimed his spot in line.
Auntie Anne’s came by and gave everyone waiting in line a pretzel nugget and lemonade. It was a nice gesture, but I wish they gave more.
The separation was short-lived, however, since the others were brought through to Line #3 shortly after. After we were all reunited, the line began moving much more quickly. The Chinese man’s wife went through with an Apple Store employee, and my mom and I were brought in just a few minutes after.
We were brought to the back of the store, the Genius Bar, where he grabbed our two white iPhone 5s. There were lots of iPhones left, enough where people just showing up (at 11:50) would be able to get one without a problem, and the line would only be about a half-hour long. Oh well, I guess it wouldn’t be the same experience.
That’s when victory finally came.
Here it was, the object I’d been waiting six hours for. The Apple Store employee helped us set it up right there and then. After that, he told us that we were free to go, but he was doing a quick demo if we wanted to stick around. We thought, “Why not? We waited for six hours, might as well check it out!”
At a different table, he showed us and a few other people a few of the new features. The first thing was the Maps app.With iOS 6, the operating system that comes preinstalled on the iPhone 5, Apple has finally moved away from Google by getting rid of YouTube and Google Maps, instead opting for their own Maps app. The Maps application is incredible for the first week — it has fun features such as flyovers of cities, 3D buildings, and the ability to see traffic. He showed us the 3D Reunion Tower in downtown Dallas, but it should work with other landmarks as well.
He also showed us the new camera features. In the iPhone 5 Camera app, you can take pictures during a video! Now you don’t have to switch from video to photo mode to take a picture. He also showed the new Panorama feature which I’ll have to use sometime. My digital camera can’t do panoramas, and I’m very comfortable with the iPhone camera so I may end up using my phone a little bit more!
Then we also took a look at Siri, my new personal “assistant,” who helped us look for Japanese restaurants near the mall. After that, we left and had lunch (we hadn’t eaten much all day) before coming home and sleeping!
It was definitely an eventful day and a fun experience. Maybe now I can be the coolest kid in my class!