Friday, Nov. 3, 3:45 a.m.: My alarm clock goes off. I was at a wine bar just four hours earlier, so I’m feeling the hour pulse through my head. I’m leaving to stand in line for the iPhone X, though I promised myself I’d never do this again after the iPhone 6 came out in 2014. I make sure I have everything I need to sit outside for hours on a 40-degree Chicago fall morning. Hat, gloves and hoodie, check. Long johns, check. Copy of Jean-Paul Sartre’s No Exit, check. Nintendo Switch, check. A towel to shield my ass from the cold ground, check.
Dignity and self-respect…? Won’t be needing that.
You see, the iPhone X marks my final Apple purchase of 2017, a year in which I’ve fanboyed to the point of unfettered absurdity. Since January, I’ve copped a 15-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar that I didn’t need, an iPhone 7 Plus that I didn’t really want because of the ditched headphone jack, a 27-inch 5K iMac that I kinda-sorta needed but not really, a 4K Apple TV that’s actually pretty dope and a new Apple Watch that’s about as useful as Jill Stein’s existence. I spent nearly twice as much on Apple shit this year than I did on my first car when I was 16…and I can’t convince pretty girls to ride in my Apple Watch.
4:06 a.m.: I arrive in line at the Lincoln Park Apple Store. There are about 25 to 30 people ahead of me, several with lawn chairs and blankets, and including some actual flesh-and-blood black African-American niggas, which makes me feel slightly better about engaging in this First World, Caucasoidal bullshit. About 90 seconds after I lay my towel down, a bundled-up young lady sits in line behind me. Brief niceties are exchanged as I stretch out and attempt whatever degree of sleep I can muster on the cold sidewalk. (spoiler alert: none)
4:32 a.m.: Using my book bag for a pillow is useless, so I whip out my iPad and finally start season 1 of “Stranger Things” because y’all won’t shut the fuck up about it on Facebook. The line is probably six or seven people longer than when I arrived. Panama starts making fun of me via text for being there. I finally introduce myself to Ariel, the lady right behind me, but neither of us is in the talking mood since human beings weren’t designed to have meaningful conversations before 5 a.m.
5:30 a.m. The line is starting to wrap around the storefront. Apple employees are arriving, and they seem so goddamn cheerful to be at work before the sun is up that I assume they’re actual cyborgs built in Cupertino. They walk outside wearing no coats as they pass out coffee and donuts, which is like a taunt since they can walk right back into the heated store and not even hot coffee can help ease my frigidity. As I play my Nintendo Switch while waiting hours in the cold for an iPhone, I wonder why any woman has ever agreed to have sex with me.
6 a.m.: A reporter from Chicago’s WCIU-The Jam shows up, his cameraman sweeping across all of us sad sacks of shit on the ground. I’ve got no warrants that I know of, but I’m still happy when the staff tells them they can’t film on the plaza…like I need my consumerism visually stashed away in some archive forever. Mother Nature curls her gnarled middle finger up at us all as it manages to get even colder and windier than it was when I arrived two hours ago.
6:25 a.m.: They move the whole line to the other side of the building, which is thankfully not as windy. I bring Ariel into my Circle of Trust by leaving the line for the first time and asking her to keep an eye on my backpack full of electronics. My entire nether region is swelling up with nature’s call, so I go to the Starbucks right across the street, which I discover might be the only one in a 234-square-mile city with no fucking public restroom. Because heaven forbid Apple allows folks standing in the cold to spend a minimum $1,000 on their shit to step inside their facilities to take a tinkle, I’m forced to walk a quarter-mile up the road to a Mariano’s grocery store, which just opened…but apparently not long enough for them to stock the restroom with toilet paper. I’m forced to become more intimate with a handful of paper toilet seat covers than I ever expected to. As I trek back to the Apple Store, I realize I dropped a glove in the dark somewhere and contemplate just stepping in front of a moving car instead of looking for it.
7:10 a.m.: The sun is up, giving the regular human beings driving to work ample opportunity to snap pictures of us as we line the side of the store. I know now how Harambe must’ve felt before he got clapped out. I learn that Ariel is actually a fellow University of Michigan alum, so we whittle away the next 40 minutes or so talking about our college days and how shitty our football team is now. We also take pleasure in the antics of a diminutive 40-something lady in front of us – wrapped in a down coat and blanket that’s twice as big as she is – who has taken to loudly expressing her displeasure at having been in the line since 3:30 a.m…to a bunch of people in the same damn line. The woman reveals that she’s a Chicago Public Schools special education teacher, which actually explains a whole hell of a lot.
8:15 a.m.: The store is open now, so the line starts moving, offering us all the promise of warmth ahead. The staff finally issues us reservations for the phone, allaying our back-of-the-mind concerns that there wouldn’t be enough phones in stock and that we’re all wasting our fucking time. And yet, SPED Blanket Lady hasn’t stopped loudly bitching about being in line, as this is clearly her first iPhone rodeo. I briefly feel a tincture of envy for the first person in line until I learn that he was there since 4:30 p.m. the previous afternoon. Which means he endured nearly 16 hours in the cold with minimal warmth and comfort (and probably many years without the touch of a woman).
9 a.m.: The line slows down considerably once I’m in spitting distance of the door, which is the equivalent of dangling a sack of Harold’s Chicken with mild sauce in front of a hungry south side nigga. Ariel and I have made a couple new friends. Everyone is standing up and rocking in place in order to keep the blood circulating, but spirits are higher now that we’re closer. My fingers are frozen even with my gloves, so fuck responding to texts. My brain is so worn out by cold and lack of sleep that I start forgetting what I’m discussing with Ariel mid-conversation like I’m taking massive hits of Kush.
9:35 a.m.: The assholes who successfully pre-ordered the phone the week before are split into a faster line that gets them into the store some 10 or 15 minutes after they arrive. SPED Blanket Lady has devolved into full-tilt white privilege, yelling all sorts of “fuckfaces” and “assholes” at no one in particular, which is pretty funny until I see her giving a hard time to Callie, the Apple staffer who has passed out coffee and been a total sweetheart to to everyone since 5 a.m. I feel inclined to apologize to Callie on behalf of this little squidget of a lady whom I’ll never see again.
10:30 a.m.: After standing in line for six hours only to spend less than 10 minutes actually purchasing the iPhone X, I’m back home in my sweats, cooking blueberry pancakes. The novelty of the bezel-to-bezel screen goes away about 17 seconds after I turn on the phone, and I’m trying to learn how to do basic shit after nearly 10 years of having a home button on my iPhone. I didn’t wake up early to vote, volunteer in a soup kitchen or save a bag of small kittens from a burning building, so the excitement of the new device is obfuscated by the ridiculous shit I did to get it. The Animojis are kinda dope, but not enough to not make me revaluate my life for doing this dumb shit once a year. Just wait for UPS to drop off your iPhone. And maybe buy Apple stock instead of depreciable Apple devices. Whatever you do, just don’t be like me.