Monday, November 20, 2006

So I spent Saturday night at the most expensive, coldest slumber-party-with-30-or-so-complete-strangers, ever! This is the story about me and my quest (and a long quest at that) for the Nintendo Wii. Apparently this has sparked much more interest that I had originally thought, so without further ado.

My original plans for picking myself up the new Nintendo was just to go to the different stores in Altoona early Sunday morning in order of opening and stand in line for a little until I got one. Here was my proposed list: Best Buy at 9am, Circuit City and/or Toys R Us at 10am, Sears at 11am. I figured if I showed up at one of those stores a couple hours before hand, I’d be set. As the story goes, if Altoona was as disconnected from the rest of the world as most people think it is, I wouldn’t have had an issue. Unfortunately State College, PA is only about 40 minutes away and with people camping out there since Tuesday, a large population of Penn Staters (who didn't get lost on the way) found their way to the Railroad City a day before the release.

As you know I drove around town Saturday afternoon scoping out lines, which were nonexistent at that point, and store opening times. My plans were set and I was pumped. Then around 10pm Saturday evening I was chillin’ with The Neighbors at the new Barnes & Nobel (a real bookstore! In Altoona! Oh so happy this makes me.) bookstore and asked them to drive past the Best Buy just to humor me. WTF? There were people standing in line! I began to panic. “That was it,” I decided. I was driving home, grabbing my sleeping bag and pillow and hitting the stores that evening.

Since Walmart is open 24/7 in Altoona, I made it there by 1045pm for the 12am Wii release. Unfortunately they told me that they only had 29 units and there were more than 29 people in line already. Again, slightly more panic. On my way out of Walmart I glanced at the Circuit City and Target shopping centers to see huge lines and tents all around the building. I hit the gas and got myself to the new Best Buy at the new Logan Town Center as quickly as possible. I parked the car and hastily wondered toward the front door where an employee was talking to a Wii campie. BB Employee told me that the store opened at 9am Sunday morning and that Best Buy could only guarantee 15 units, but they might have more than that. There were already 19 people in line. That made me 5 units past the guarantee. It was crap-or-get-off-the-pot time. I stuck my name in the number 20 spot on the unofficial in-line list and got my sleeping bag out of my car. I was camping out on the Best Buy sidewalk.

The night started off pretty interesting. There was a diverse bunch there: three physics grad students doing their quantum mechanics homework (which was done in an Analog Electronic format if you remember those days Andy), boyfriends and girlfriends being obnoxious in their tents driving their radio controlled cars around the parking lot, a Sears employee who wasn’t allowed to buy a Wii at his workplace, some Dungeons and Dragons uber fanatics and a mass of other strangers I’ll never see again. By about 4am I was flippin’ freezing because it was 30 degrees outside and I was dead tired thanks to the obnoxious group a few people down from me. I pulled myself off the arctic concrete and walked to my car where I drove down to Sheetz to use the bathroom and get feeling back to my feet. I spent another half hour in my car with the heat blasting just staying warm before I went back out to my sleeping bag under the bright halogen lights of the store to try and catch some Zs. Finally around 5am I fell asleep.

So the plan the night before was to wake up and form our official line at 6am. Around 615am I awoke and saw no one around me. I began to panic as I grabbed a jacket and made my way to the front of the store with the rest of the crowd. We formed our official line based off of the unofficial list and awaited for a revealing of the number of actual units the store had had. By 7am we had our answer. 24! I finally showed Luck who was in charge! Now grant it we had an inside source the night before that told us just that, but it wasn’t an official word. I still like to think I grabbed Luck by the sack and whipped him around a little. Anywho so the game plan was at 8am Best Buy would hand out tickets that guaranteed a unit, to the first 24 people in line. So from 7am to 8am we continued to freeze our a**es off as we awaited for the manager autographed tickets. A few people originally like me showed up around those times to try and stand in line, but we informed them it would be a lost cause unless someone happened to have bad credit. And there I stood thinking if I wasn’t (or was depending on how you view this incident) so crazy that would be me getting rejected. So finally after about 3 completely numb toes and a frozen chin plate (I have a metal plate in my chin by the way, and it gets cold pretty fast) we got our tickets. Lucky number twenty was on mine. "SCORE!!" I texted a couple of my friends that knew I may attempt such a feat. At that time Best Buy informed us of how this would all go down. We would make a single file line and at 9am they would let us in. We would walk around a small semicircle picking out the games and accessories we wanted, then stop at the register and make our purchase. At that time they would check our ticket, and then individually escort us to our vehicle and hand the Wii over. A little extreme I thought, but with all the violence from the PS3 release, probably pretty smart on Best Buy’s part. Plus it sort of made you feel important. Even though they just saw all of us as a huge nuisance.

Once I got my ticket I jumped in my car to get warm and grabbed a coffee and Shmiscuit at Sheetz. I was back in line by 845am and was walking out the door with my Nintendo Wii (and escort) by 945am. As I drove home that day I felt like I had just had the biggest accomplishment in my entire life. Forget graduating college Magna Cum Laude with a bachelor’s degree in engineering. Forget passing the first half of the test to obtain my Professional Engineering label, forget landing a nice job at The Workplace where I can pretty much do whatever I think is best. All that junk overshadowed by an amazing retail purchase of a Nintendo Wii, extra controller and nun chuck, and the new Monkey Ball.

Don't worry there's more, but I really should do some actual work.

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