Camping out for consumer goods is sort of a boy thing. Boys are always lining up for sneakers and XBox games, but you don't see women camp out at Target and H&M days before the next hotly-anticipated high-low JV. Do you? [Uh, yes. -Ed.] Well whatever. The iPhone is supposed to be insanely coveted among women — divorced women especially (and nonsensically) — who are apparently not put off by the fact that Steve Jobs has yet to use his gigantic bankroll to buy his way onto 1/20 of a Vanity Fair cover. We sent Intern Maria to find out what sort of women were about to become the envy of every boy we know. Answer: The sort of women who wear shirts that say: "Do I Make You Look Fat?" (To be fair, she's 16. Of course she makes you look fat.) After the jump, Intern Maria's experiences with middle-aged moms, stoners, reps for Heeb magazine and, of course, pasty white dudes.
I went to the Apple store on the corner of Prince and Greene Streets in New York City expecting the types of guys who wear T-shirts with slogans like "Oxymoron: Microsoft Works." This was naive. Most of the people in line were in their early twenties and trying to score a quick buck on eBay while basking in the media attention they were getting for being bored and broke-yet-well-capitalized enough to spend a few days buying into a fad.
Although the line (at the time I went to it) was already starting to circle around the corner of Houston and Mercer, I couldn't find that many women to interview. The few that I did approach were mostly young (between 16 and 20), pretty, and considering the circumstances, nicely put together. They were all, of course, looking to sell their iPhones on eBay.
In fact most people seemed to be selling their future iPhone on eBay either for personal profit or for charity (on one roughly-made cardboard fort: "Profits Go To The Wetlands"). These people will make more money sitting in line with their friends for twenty hours than I do working retail in a month. I was almost tempted to give up my story and grab a place in line with the stoned NYU student and his girlfriend I stopped to talk to. They were pleasant and open; so open, in fact, that the NYU student nonchalantly copped a feel on his girlfriend as she spoke to me.
A shorter-term profit could be turned selling one's place in line, which is what these two men were doing, albeit with wildly different asking prices. The man at left was asking $100; the man at right — closer to the hallowed Apple Store — $500.
Lines, while inherently laid-back and democratic, bring out anxiety, competition and rage in some people, particularly those at the end.
This woman was close to the end. Of the line, and her wits. She was, in fact, the first female I came upon who actually wanted an iPhone, and she was not happy to be waiting among the profiteers. She was apparently buying these phones for her sons and appeared a little bit shocked that she should wait in line for the most anticipated product of the year.
All in all, the line was more like the line for a Jack Johnson concert than any sort of nerd-a-polooza. A lot of people were reading complimentary issues of Heeb magazine. (The magazine's clever marketers were stingy, though; when I asked for one, a woman hissed that they were for line-waiters only. Touchy!) Some people sunbathed but (I know, I know, skin cancer!) seriously, some of these people needed sun badly. I met a group claiming to represent the company Rough Guides who said they were authoring a Rough Guide to the iPhone, as if it were not a mere gadget but some sort of sovereign nation with ruins and nature preserves and dirty public transportation systems to be roughed. I thought about this, and decided it made perfect sense.