Joeblade

Notes from the Regent Street Apple store iPad queue

I had ordered an iPad online but the delivery date wasn’t for a full month, which is bullshit. What’s the point of being a fat, entitled Westerner if I have to wait a month for something? As I was passing the Regent Street Apple shop I decided to see if buying one in person was possible. This was two days after the launch so I’d imagined the masses would have dispersed, though the hundreds of thousands of March 26 protesters might have taken the opportunity to stock up as well.

Here are my notes from the experience.

11:55

I see the queue and think it doesn’t look too bad. I have a book to keep me busy, its a Sunday and all I’m likely to be doing anyway is dicking around on the Internet so hey you know what the hell man let’s do this thing.

12:01

Ok, apparently that wasn’t the end of the queue, but the end of one segment of the queue. The real end is around the corner…

12:02

Ok, not bad, still manageable. I’ll join and see how fast it’s going but I’ll also get my book out so that people will think I’m nonchalant.

“Alright, so you’re nonchalant, quit rubbing our noses in it!”

12:10

Some movement. I think I’m going to commit to this. Last time I queued outside this shop it was for the Snow Leopard release of OSX, or possibly the Leopard release. One of the Leopards, certainly. At the time there had been a journalist trying to get quotes from people about why they were being such dicks, queueing for something when if they waited a few weeks or whatever, they wouldn’t have to queue. I mean, those weren’t his actual words but his body language was clear.

He wasn’t having any luck getting responses; the man next to me clammed up when he noticed the journalist was recording on his phone instead of, I don’t know, using a dictaphone or writing in shorthand, like a real journalist would be doing. I expect he was already suspicious as the guy didn’t have a hat on with a card in the brim reading ‘PRESS’. When questioned, the journalist looked at him like he’d just been asked why he wears shoes, or why he blinks, then he moved further down the queue.

As this is day three, the area is fortunately journalist-free.

12:15

A member of staff is letting people know what the stock situation is. It seems that the most popular choice was the 64GB 3G white model which is now sold out. In fact there are no white models left of any kind.

12:16

A member of staff is now walking down the ethnically-diverse queue shouting ‘No whites! No whites!’ which is POLITICAL CORRECTNESS GONE MAD as far as I’m concerned.

12:20

Made it to queue stage 2.

12:25

Made it into the building. Some people are trying to bypass the queue by entering the building from the open, non-iPad door and then just asking to buy an iPad, then looking stroppy when they are redirected. Some people don’t like being told to wait. I think they think they are owed something by life.

12:30

Some shit starting to kick off here. A woman has just started ranting at a member of staff but I can’t hear what the problem is. She won’t let him speak, insists that he just shut up and listen, in that hostile middle-class way — you know, “Excuse me! Excuse me! I am talking! I AM TALKING!”. Oddly, the staff member hasn’t just given her a clip around the ear which makes him a better man than I.

Sounds like she’s just angry because she has to wait. Oh, and nobody has offered her a chair. She isn’t old or pregnant.

Staff member has taken her off to find a chair.

12:35

Now starting to feel unsafe as a gang of about five young men storm in and loudly heckle a different staff member. They claim they were queuing from 7:30 to 10:30 until someone came out and told them all iPads were sold out.

This all sounds like bullshit to me.

Man, they’re angry though. Or good at acting angry. It’s an iPad man, not your last chance for the next six months for a vital kidney operation. Chill the fuck out.

I didn’t say any of that out loud you understand.

The guy who went off with the chair woman has returned without her. Maybe that’s how they roll in the Apple store; no fuss in the store, they just take you out the back and quietly off you. He’s dealing with the angry mob and speaking their language; the language of the streets.

I’m moving forward away from them, which is good because I’m not willing to risk a stabbing just for this thing.

12:40

Made it to final queue stage. No giving up now when I’m so close. Concerned that my desired model — the cheapest, natch — will be out of stock by the time I hit the tills and I’ll have to slink away without buying anything and the crowd will all laugh at the guy who queued for three quarters of an hour just for the fucking hell of it.

12:41

Right, everyone in front of me is a foreign tourist having to make long phone calls to their banks to unblock their suddenly-blocked credit cards.

Some people are paying with big wodges of cash. I assume these people are criminals but one mustn’t judge.

12:45

A couple is stuck trying to decide which smart cover to buy. The choice of 10 is too much. Which colour best defines them as individuals? Shouldn’t they go for the ‘PRODUCT (RED)’ option regardless? Does leather or polyurethane better indicate ‘indecisive’?

They are actually phoning a friend to ask for advice.

12:47

I see that the previous mob of angry youths are in the queue, having failed to rage their way to the front. They are being scolded by a female American staff member and looking sheepish.

12:50

And I’m out with my preferred choice of iPad and a black smart cover that I will later discover is actually navy. Some people out here are making their children pose for photos with the newly-bought iPads in front of the store, like they’ve just won a big cheque or something.

I’m getting out of here before I get mugged.

By Paul Haine, in