After becoming infected with the Harry Potter excitement contagion I decided to wait in line with a friend of mine last night even though I ordered my book online to be delivered on Saturday (he was leaving for vacation at 4am the next day and wanted to have it to take with him). I don’t know what it is about being in a store full of hyped up, costumed fans but whatever it was I had to be a part of it. Under the assumption that the blue wristband we had meant something, we headed back up to the store at 11:00 PM. The line outside was long and it appeared that the store was still open as people were in the cafe and wandering around the book isles. Turns out they were having to keep track of how many people were inside the store and could only let more in when some came out because of occupancy limits and fire code.
It was a little before this time that I discovered I wouldn’t be able to be a part of the Twitter stream as I had previously thought. My SMS to web and web to SMS wasn’t working. “Perhaps the gateway is down,” was the response from T-Mobile customer service. SMS to and from other phones worked fine. Thank goodness for the mobile Twitter page although I couldn’t keep up with tweets very well through that.
After hanging out in line for a while we learned that the wristband didn’t really mean anything but the color of our flier determined when we would get in. Everyone that did not preorder had a white flier and would be going last regardless of when they picked it up. My extra trip to Barnes and Noble earlier that afternoon to get a wristband and flier meant nothing in our placement as people just now arriving were getting the same thing. The people with red fliers were the first in and they were the ones that preordered and picked up their fliers very early in the day. Next up were the yellow fliers (also preorders) then blue fliers; the preorders that didn’t appear till the line had formed. Our white flier guaranteed us last.
Barnes and Noble staff did a good job separating the reds and yellows and getting them into the store in a timely manner. The ugliness didn’t start until they decided the one long line of blues and whites should be reshuffled. Basically they told everyone near the front of the line with a white paper to move to the back of the line. The people with white papers in the middle then got to be in the front of the white paper line. This was really aggravating because we had been there standing for much longer than some.
Then the line cutting started. I guess I am a little naive because I was disappointed to find that the majority of folks cheating in line were the older folks with the white hair and the suburban housewife looking folks. I had an older lady yell at me that she had been there for 2 hours (compared to my 5) and how dare I cut in line (he had been making her way with her husband through the line one group a a time for a while). After I asked her how long she had been there and retorted with my time she demanded that I prove I had an “exclusive while paper and blue wristband”. Understand, there was a table with white papers and wristbands about 10 feet from us that they were still handing out to late arrivals. Eventually I lost the will to hold my spot in line and just let her pass. Sometimes it just isn’t worth it.
I want to add that there were more cool people than mean ones. I had some lovely chats with fellow line waiters about the movies and the books. Over all it was a lot of fun to be part of a community like that for a little bit. This is the first time I have ever stood in line for anything.
Once inside the store the line moved crazy fast and it didn’t take long to get to the counter. My friend purchased two copies of the book and a set of audio CDs. They had plenty in the stock so there was no limit to the amount you wanted to purchase. I resisted buying one on the spot since I had already ordered one.
So, here I sit seeing tweets from people that are done reading and wishing I had bought a copy after all that line waiting because mine still hasn’t been delivered. Apparently I am not alone as there are also quite a few tweets from people wondering where their order is.
NOTE: At a little after 1:00 AM CDT my SMS to and from web miraculously came back to life and it appears all my crazy Tweets went through along with my SMS “test” messages. Even though T-Mobile doesn’t typically queue undeliverable SMS messages, the appeared to have done so last night. Sorry to those that got a storm of messages from me. The conspiracy theorist inside me wonders if the gateway was “down” to avoid issues with the spoilers and lawsuits. The technologist in me wants to think that so many people were Twittering or using other SMS type services last night that the gateways just couldn’t handle it. I think the latter theory is cooler. =)