I'm an idiot.
It's about 5:15am and I have a nearly 13-hour wait before the iPhone goes on sale at the Apple Store beneath the crystal cube at Grand Army Plaza in New York City. The sky is a steel gray with wisps of darker gray clouds passing passively overhead. They are the remnants of a series of violent thundershowers that caused the posponement of the Mets-Cardinals game at Shea Stadium in Queens last night and that have peppered the city on-and-off the last four days. It was, with apologies to Snoopy, a dark and stormy night. But thankfully the storms passed through and lowered the temperature 20 degrees from the hot and humid 90+ degrees it has been the last few days in the Big Apple.
Of course, I'm not alone in my idiocy. Aligned along FAO Schwarz on E. 58th Street between Fifth and Madison Avenues are about 100 of my fellow iPhone idolators, mostly young and dressed in T- or polo shirts, shorts or khakis, sandals or sneakers. They are male and female, all races, creeds and colors. Most are perched on folding chairs, others in tents, one enterprising group brought a mattress and box spring. Some are sleeping grouped under umbrellas, others under pulled-down caps, others under giant headphones. There are a couple of teens tossing a football in the middle of 58th Street dodging cabs. And there are a couple of camera crews capturing the non-action for the entertainment of a bemused American viewing public. After arising from a comfortable night's sleep they'll flip on their TV and see an bemusing two-minute package on on us disheveled ne'er-do-wells on their Good Morning TV shows. "Ha ha," says the anchor. "Aren't those iPhone accolytes wacky!" As viewers sip their hot coffee and munch on their coffee cake they'll smirk with self-satisfied superiority and think to themselves, "What idiots!" Yup.
A couple of reporters just came by asking how long we've been here. When I came by here on Monday afternoon, there were only a half-dozen idiots. I came by again last night at around 8pm and there were around 60-70 idiots. I assume that as it gets lighter the line will get long, filling what's left of 58th Street and then hang a left and turn north up Madison Avenue. I'm told the Crate & Barrel around the block is letting us use their bathroom, although I somehow doubt they're open at this hour. Cabbies and other motorists as well as the occasional pedestrian stop and ask us what we're doing here. Teeth-baring smiles burst on their faces when they're told. They chuckle and give us a supportive thumbs up as they go on their way to more worthwhile activities, but I know what they're thinking. "What a bunch of idiots!" Uh huh.
I know why I'm here. I need an iPhone. It's my job, and Apple is distributing review units only to top media outlets. Even Stephen Colbert has been complaining about not getting one, so what chance do I have? You'll see my review of the iPhone on this site in a few days, and in other various and sundry sites and magazines in the coming weeks and months. Plus, SCI FI actually paying me to be here and write this blog.
But before I put my laptop — and hopefully myself — to sleep for a few hours, I have one question. No one on this line looks well to do. What do they all do for a living that they can afford to take time off work and still afford a $600 cell phone? Perhaps they'll buy one for themselves and flip the other on eBay to others who refuse to pull an all-nighter waiting along 58th Street in New York City. A guy called Lennie doing his best Andrew Dice Clay imitation came buy and asked me if I'd buy a phone for him. He'd said he'd pay me extra.
Hmmm. Maybe I'm not such an idiot after all.
More dispatches from iPhone Day: