i Don’t Get the iPhone Lines

20 Sep

They’re lined up all over the country, hunkered down in their folding watch-the-kids-at-T-ball chairs. In my town, they’re bundled up in Bears jackets and hats. Some are even wearing gloves. While they don’t quite qualify to be committed to the local mental health center, everyone passing by them wonders, “Are they crazy?”

I see them, amazed by their dedication and devotion and I think, “Wow, there really ought to be a name for people like that. How about, say, ‘losers’?”

And what are they waiting for? The iPhone 5. Now, I love Apple products. In our house, we have an iMac, two MacBook Pros and two MacBooks. We have an iPod Classic, two iPod Touches and, yes, an iPhone. I love Apple products because they work and they’re backed by great service. Don’t get on my back about PCs. Been down that road and I’m never going back. You can if you want to and I won’t care at all. Besides, this isn’t a post about who makes better computers or phones or MP3 devices.

This is a post about people obsessed with stuff. People so obsessed with stuff that they are willing to sit in line for stuff so they can say they were the first to have the stuff. Frankly, I don’t understand why there is more than one person in any of these lines. If you’re not the first person in line, why bother? You’ll be the second person to get the iPhone 5. Where’s the glory in that? I imagine the water cooler conversation going something like this:

Julie: Hey, Joe! I see you’ve got the new iPhone 5.

Joe: Yeah, Julie. Sat in line for four days for this little beauty.

Julie: Wow! So you were the first person in Naperville to get an iPhone 5?

Joe: Actually, no, I was second. So, kind of the silver medal in iPhones.

Julie (backing away): Yeah, well, good for you, Joe. Bet you can’t wait to show it to the guys in your RPG meetup.

The thing that really puzzles me about the losers people waiting for the iPhone 5 are the diametrically opposed concepts involved in waiting days to buy an iPhone 5. iPhones are expensive, $199 without anything else, such as the talk, text and data package you also need. So, you probably want to be employed for that to work out. Most of the people I know who are employed don’t have days to sit on their ass in a folding chair at the Apple Store. So, in my mind a bunch of unemployed nerds are sitting in front of a store so they can be the first to buy a product they can’t afford.

The iPhone losers buyers are up there, in my mind, with the people who get up at three o’clock in the morning so they can be the first in line when the big box stores open at 5 a.m. on the day after Thanksgiving. Why? So they can get incredible deals on stuff, stuff for Christmas, the Stuffapalooza of Stuff.

People have been shopping for stuff the day after Christmas since the three Kings hopped on their camels and hoofed it back to the Orient. And yet, my local news always reports on people shopping for stuff on the day after Christmas as if it were the Second Coming. My favorite part of the news reports is the interview with the happy, exhausted shopper, who brags about saving $500 on a $1500 flat-screen TV.

No, Ma’am you didn’t save $500. You didn’t save any money at all. You spent $1500.

Maybe I’m sensitive to the stuff obsession because one of my favorite activities during a bipolar mania was shopping. I racked up a mountain of debt while I was high. Every one of my personal Black Fridays was followed by depression, made even blacker by the aftermath of my manic episode.

Anyone who says we are no longer a hunter-gatherer society hasn’t taken a good look around. The people featured on “Hoarders” are only the most extreme of us. Evidence of our hunting and gathering is everywhere. A two-car garage isn’t enough anymore. Now we need three—one for each of our cars and a third for stuff. Toy boxes can no longer contain our kids’ stuff; now we need entire rooms. We have so much stuff that we have entire stores devoted to containing our stuff.

Recently, we sold the home I grew up in. While it was emotionally wrenching, I expected that. What I didn’t expect was the overwhelming magnitude of stuff. Faced with getting rid of an entire life’s worth, I realized how truly insidious stuff is. It slinks into our lives one shopping bag or birthday or Christmas at a time. We suck it into our existence, shoving other stuff aside to fit it all in, then go about slowly accumulating more and more stuff.

This time tomorrow, losers people all over the world will call themselves winners in the “Who Got the iPhone First” game. Good for them, I guess. But me? There is nothing in the world that I want so much that I’ll sit on my butt in front of a store for days on end. Now, if you just happened to pick up an extra one . . .

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23 Responses to “i Don’t Get the iPhone Lines”

  1. Jim September 20, 2012 at 9:03 pm #

    I bit. Mine arrives tomorrow.

  2. dinnerversions September 20, 2012 at 9:37 pm #

    Excellent!! Great post. We’re a Mac household too and though I kinda got the appeal of the comraderie among people waiting in line for the ground breaking first iPhone, lining up for anything else after that just seems silly.

    • jmlindy422 September 21, 2012 at 8:06 am #

      The first one, yes! The first Mac, yes! But, I’m with you, especially when you can pre-order these things and have them delivered.

  3. Karin Evans September 20, 2012 at 9:59 pm #

    Oh lordy this is one of my favorite soapbox topics… planned obsolescence combined with conspicuous consumption, and we are destroying the planet with chemicals and garbage and burning the fossil fuels like there’s no tomorrow… well one of these days there may not be any tomorrow. It’s really all just one big issue wrapped together and it’s called GREED. … uh, ok, I’m getting down now.

    • jmlindy422 September 21, 2012 at 8:12 am #

      Is it greed on the part of the people acquiring or the people selling. I’d say insecurity is at the root of the consumption but agree with the greed bit on the part of business. What I like about the Apple products is that they may be obsolete as far as getting the latest technology, but they still work! So many other products just fall apart.

    • philosophermouseofthehedge September 24, 2012 at 7:25 pm #

      It’s OK. You’re not the only one feeling this way ( we’ll take turns on the soap box?)

  4. Miss Y September 20, 2012 at 10:19 pm #

    I lined up once for the last of the Harry Potter books, not for days mind you but for a few hours. I’m not even a huge fan but I had the urge to experience a line up so I did it and it was great.

    The atmosphere was wonderful and oh so fun with some people dressed up (not me!) and it was worth it.

    • jmlindy422 September 21, 2012 at 8:13 am #

      I agree that Harry Potter is worth it; I always bought them the day they came out ’cause I hate crowds. The HP lines always looked pretty festive. I lived in Oak Park, Illinois which had the first Harry Potter party ever and it was PACKED! A lot of fun, too.

  5. Madame Weebles September 20, 2012 at 11:55 pm #

    I don’t get the lines either. I’m not an iPhone or a Mac person, so I really don’t get the Apple frenzy. But I can’t really think of anything that gets me so psyched that I would wait one line for hours on the first day of release. Maybe when I was in my teens or 20s, but definitely not now. I’m way too lazy.

    • jmlindy422 September 21, 2012 at 8:14 am #

      I’m not lazy, I just need to have a clean bathroom. I don’t do outdoor festivals, either. Crowds plus Porta-Potty equal panic attack.

  6. SocietyRed September 21, 2012 at 11:06 am #

    I saw the lines on the news this morning, I think losers is fine description! I remember seeing people line up for new video games, at least a phone can be productive. Can’t wait to see what the next mania product will be…

    • jmlindy422 September 21, 2012 at 11:23 am #

      I saw the lines at my local Apple store because I had an appointment with an Apple trainer. Even the employees were rolling their eyes. My son pre-orders his favorite games so that they set one aside for him. Then, like reasonable people, we go after school to pick it up.

  7. sukanya September 21, 2012 at 2:42 pm #

    the effect of consumerism!
    heard this morning-that an IPhone fanatic paid someone $1500 to stand in line for him in front of an Apple store. essentially, he ended up paying $2000 for a $500 product. to me, this guy needs a shrink, not a phone.

    • jmlindy422 September 21, 2012 at 3:09 pm #

      I know a few shrinks. They charge about $200 per half hour. A month’s worth of sessions and that $500 phone will cost him $2800. Who the hell can afford at $2000 phone!?

  8. Mad Queen Linda September 21, 2012 at 3:47 pm #

    There used to be a website called the burning house where you were invited to submit a photo of what you’d grab on the way out of your burning house. I submitted my photo which contained my wedding bands, my dog’s ashes, my phone and one or two other sundry items. Then, I thought it over. I would take nothing. I would just enjoy watching the flames.

    • jmlindy422 September 21, 2012 at 4:15 pm #

      Love it! Watch those flames…as long as everyone I love is watching them with me.

  9. twistingthreads September 22, 2012 at 4:32 am #

    “You didn’t save $500. You didn’t save any money at all. You spent $1500.”

    One of my biggest pet peeves of all time is the people who say they saved money by spending it. A lady for a newspaper in another town called me (when I was still not tech-savvy enough to have a cell phone or caller ID) and told me I could save $50,000 a year from the coupon inserts. I shuddered to think how much money I would have to spend and how much crap I would own/consume to “save” that much, if I’d ever had that kind of money in the first place, that is.

    I spend enough time waiting in lines. Barring the politeness learned in kindergarten for necessary functions, I’d never volunteer for the activity unless that iPhone kept pushy telemarketers out of my life forever.

    • jmlindy422 September 22, 2012 at 6:59 am #

      Now THAT would be a valuable phone!

  10. segmation September 23, 2012 at 10:09 am #

    Were you able to pick up an extra one? Awesome blog! http://www.segmation.wordpress.com

  11. philosophermouseofthehedge September 24, 2012 at 7:30 pm #

    Here you can pre-order, only to find out when you go to pick it up that sales associates decided it was OK to sell yours to someone else. …I mean, “if you really wantd it, you would have been there when the store opened…UGH.
    (Oh did you see the ad for the Samsung phone featuring the iPhone lines? There are a couple of them – great job ad agency – you nailed it!

  12. Mary Rayis October 1, 2012 at 11:44 am #

    You want to watch something scary? Tune in to “Extreme Couponing.” I happened upon it one evening while stuck in my hotel room with nothing to do. It was horridly fascinating.

    • jmlindy422 October 1, 2012 at 11:50 am #

      That sounds a little too much like a cross between “Here comes Honey Boo-Boo” and “Hoarders.” I can’t watch “Hoarders” for fear that seeing how messy someone else is will make me think my own mess is ok.

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