Tents. Sleeping bags. 20-somethings in black-rimmed glasses. That’s the scene most would picture surrounding a new iPhone release on launch day.
On Friday, the Verizon Wireless store in Dixon welcomed about 50 people waiting at its doors – some as early as 6 a.m. – to buy the new iPhone 5S.
I left the house about 7:15 a.m., secretly hoping that Dixon’s distance from major metropolitan areas would shield it long enough from the onslaught of iPhone scavengers. I had hoped that would buy me time to walk right in, or at least get a good spot in line.
I pulled into the lot about 8 a.m., talking to myself out loud. I kept saying, “That’s a lot of cars. That’s a lot of cars.” That quickly turned to, “That’s a lot of people.”
As I shut off the car in front of Manpower, a woman exited the office and asked if I was there to visit them or Verizon. I mouthed Verizon (my windows were closed), and pointed at the store next door. She shook her head in disapproval, and asked that I move. The lot was full.
I drove around the side and found a spot, jumped out and speedily walked to the front of the store. I tried not to draw much attention to myself. I knew why everyone was there. So did everyone else.
More cars arrived. An attendant came outside to hand out large red and white cards; we’d need these to keep our place in line. The cards also had numbers on them. Mine was 33.
Immediately after receiving our numbers, someone asked if they could purchase the phone and activate it at home. They didn’t want to wait any longer. It had been 15 minutes.
A woman approached the store’s doors trying to get inside. They were locked, likely as some sort of crowd control. The store didn’t officially open until 10 a.m., but they opened for business at 8 on Friday.
About a half hour had passed before I noticed a man in a suit toward the middle of the line. State Rep. Tom Demmer, R-Dixon, was waiting, too. I went over to say hi and talk. He was number 27.
The experience of waiting in line for a phone was unique. As I had discussed with Demmer, it felt much like Michael Bay’s “The Island,” where residents hope to win the lottery. Outside of the store, numbers were called, and people would enthusiastically yell out, “It’s me! Wish me luck, guys!”
I won’t spoil the movie for you (it came out in 2005). It didn’t end well for the people who won the lottery in the movie.
In Dixon, people were happy. They were hungry, too. On more than one occasion, I heard some mention that a youth group should have been brought in to sell coffee or doughnuts.
Gold was the color of the day for the new phones. Most of the people I talked to were after that color, but the store didn’t have it stocked. They would have to wait in line to order it at a kiosk in the store.
The sky was gray, but the rain never came Friday morning. There was a strange camaraderie in the crowd.