Quest for a Wii
(I was gonna mention something here about how, specifically for this post, I was gonna forgo putting any more pictures after the first one throughout the post to aid its "story feel." But then I'd probably appear to be copying Omar once again, who made a similar declaration in his latest post. That man always beats me to every punch. I've appeared to copy him long ago already. Even before I actually started my blog, I knew that I would have a recurring "Games I'm Currently Playing" posts. And long before I was able to put up my first one, Omar put up his first "Games I'm Playing Right Now" post. Then later on, I posted a link to a great article and discovered that he had posted a link to it just one day before me. And now this! He gets me every time!)
I'm sure everyone is well aware of how difficult it's been to get one of these suckers. I still have numerous friends who are clamoring to get one with the only available options being horrific price gouges. In fact, ever since it became the hot item for Christmas, it's been downright impossible to get one without dedicating your life to it. Even now, three full months after Christmas, it's still impossible to find.
I tried, myself, a few times to get one before Christmas. On the day of launch, I believed Nintendo's claims that there'd be plenty of consoles available. So I casually headed out on launch day and found that there were none left. A week later, I woke up at 7:00 or 8:00 and stood in line at my local Toys R Us and managed to be about 50th in line when they only had 42 available. I tried again another morning, waking up at a ridiculous time of about 5:30 in the morning (ridiculous for me, okay?), journeyed to a Target far out of town and getting there at around 6:00 in the morning, and finding out to my dismay that I was 40th or so in line! I stood in the freezing cold until 7:30 to find out that they only had 15 Wiis for the line of over a hundred people. Again, I had failed. And I gave up, deciding to wait until after Christmas when, hopefully, demand would die down.
And so, when the next word broke out for the day that the Wiis would again be stockpiled at various Targets and Toys R Us's and such, I decided to really put my full effort into the quest to obtain it. The Friday before the Wiis were to go on sale the following Sunday morning, I called over 15 stores to make sure they were getting Wiis. And only one store was willing to confirm they were getting them: the same Target I drove to on my previous attempt. They told me that, yes, they were getting some Wiis -- maybe around 50 of them. I wrestled with the idea to wait in line overnight, but figured I wouldn't bother. Was I really that desperate? No, not really. So, instead, I decided to wake up at around 4:00 in the morning and go. Which meant going to bed at 9:30 or 10:00 at night.
Now keep in mind that I normally go to bed at 4:00 a.m. on weekends. So jumping into bed at 10:00 p.m. was not gonna work for me. But I tried. And although I managed to get some sleep, I just woke up at 2:00 a.m. It was so unnatural for me to have gone to bed at 10:00 that my sleep cycle was that screwed up at that point. And as I sat in bed trying to fall back asleep, I figured... what the hell? I decided to wake up and go to Target now. I took my time getting ready, left my house at around 2:45, and began my early morning drive to Target. At this time of the morning, I expected the freeways to be empty and that I could get to the Target in 30 minutes, easy.
But my problems were only beginning.
I drove and about 10 minutes into the drive, traffic comes to a dead halt -- literally a dead halt. I was going 0 miles an hour and all I could see ahead was a bunch of flashing sirens. It was at this moment I began to panic. Someone really didn't want me to get a Wii! At 3:00 in the morning, here I am stuck on the freeway, not moving... my mind could only picture the line already forming at Target. Maybe there were 5 people waiting overnight. Maybe 10. Maybe even 20. Maybe another 30 people have already joined the line while I sat there, motionless for already 10 minutes. I was about to go into a ballistic rage until... finally, signs that the traffic was starting to moving. Things cleared up, I blew a sigh of relief, and I put the pedal to the metal and drove to the Target.
I arrived at about 3:30 in the morning, pulled into the parking lot and... and... no one is there. What on earth? I was expecting at least a few campers but... there wasn't a sign of anyone in sight. Did I make a mistake? I began to feel a little silly, being the guy who got up at a ridiculous time to wait in line way too early. Was I the example of a total Nintendo fanboy, sitting in line at Target by himself waiting for the Wii at 3:30 in the morning? And so I sat in my car where it was far warmer (this was January after all), wondering if I had gone a little too far with my paranoia. And I sat in my car. And sat. And sat. And finally, at around 4:00 or so, I saw another car drive into the parking lot, so I figured I'd make my move. I got out of my car, grabbed my portable picnic chair, planted my freezing ass at the main entrance to Target, and waited. I tried to play a little Nintendo DS, but what ended up happening was that my hands would freeze 'cause it was incredibly cold outside, so I chose to keep them in my pockets instead of on the DS.
The driver of the newly arrived car finally came out and sat on the bench next to me. She was a fairly young blonde lady, apparently bundled up nice and tight in many layers of clothing like I was. We began to talk and both of us were surprised at the fact that we were 1st and 2nd in line. She, like me, had assumed there would be a nice line already as she had tried to get the Wii a few times before.
It turns out she had gotten a Wii already for her son. But a friend of theirs wanted one so badly for their daughter that she and her husband gave theirs to their friend and got a PS3 instead. They figured the PS3 would be harder to get and they could get a Wii at any time. And she was pretty bitter about how it turned out that the opposite was true. And now, here she is, waiting in line at 4:00 in the morning in the freezing cold, trying to get a Wii while her lazy husband (her words, not mine) stayed at home and slept.
At one point, a police car drove by and wondered why the heck we were sitting there at 4:00 in the morning. When we tried to explain it was for the Nintendo Wii, the officer just looked at us like we were crazy. He mentioned that she was lucky that she didn't have to sit there alone and drove off, probably thinking we were insane.
Finally, after a little while, more people began to arrive. The lady 2nd in line even said she was a bit angry knowing that she probably could have slept an extra hour and still had been 2nd in line (tell me about it). But sure enough, more people arrived: an older gentleman showed up to be third in line, trying to buy the system for his son. Another guy showed up and landed fourth in line to try and buy one for himself. Another older gentleman showed up to be fifth in line, trying to buy one his daughter. And a girl and her boyfriend arrived to be sixth in line. I saw her and said, "Hi." She laughed and said "Hi" back. We recognized each other from the last time we stood in line at this very Target for the Wii. And more and more people arrived.
As we talked, it was funny to learn so much stuff about each other. 4th guy in line apparently had just come straight from his, I think, 30th birthday party. He said he purposely didn't drink too much just so he could stand in line for the Wii. 5th guy in line turned out to be some conspiracy theorist, telling us about a college classmate who told him about some super secret government stuff and gave him a video tape of evidence. He then told how the classmate, one day, just suddenly disappeared and the video tape was stolen from his car on the same day. 6th in line, the lady I recognized before, waited in line the first time to try and get her boyfriend the Wii for Christmas. Now, she was here with her boyfriend, and they were giving it their best shot together. Both of us commented how we wised up this time, making sure we were really properly bundled up for the cold. And the lady 2nd in line? Turned out she wasn't as bundled as I thought she was: she was 9 months pregnant!! And yet, there she was... standing in line at 4:00 in the morning to get a Wii for her son and her yet to be born daughter (who was to be named Isabella). It was pretty crazy to the rest of us, and we told her that when the store opened up, we would honor her place in line and try our best not to trample over her if there was any ensuing rush.
But all of us agreed on one thing: we were happy to be so early in line. We all felt tired, cold, and what-not, but being able to be stress-free knowing that we were finally gonna get the Wii warmed us up enough and gave us enough energy. It would all be worth it in the end. We just waited until the magic 7:30 time when the managers would come out and finally give us vouchers with our numbers. So we all continued to chat and joke around while the sun began to fill the sky with light. The line had built up to a healthy 30 or so people when, oddly at 6:30, the manager of the Target came out. A little early, no? And then the magic words:
"We have some bad news."
The six of us at the front of the line glanced at each other with disbelief. "We only have 10 Wiis... we only have 10 Wiis," is what I whispered to myself, hoping that, like a puppet, I could make the manager say what I wanted him to say. I mean, hell, I was first in line so I guess "We only have 1 Wii" would have been good enough! But I would prefer not being singled out like that. I mean, even if they had only one Wii, could I really feel good about myself taking it away from a 9-month pregnant lady or a guy on his 30th birthday? But it wouldn't make a difference in the end as the concern was moot:
"We didn't get our shipment," said the manager.
Woa woa woa woa, now. Okay... so lemme get this straight: the one and only store that actually confirmed to me that they were getting Wiis in... didn't get any Wiis. After hearing that news, that was really the last straw for me. I was convinced, now, that I wasn't meant to get a Wii anytime soon.
The crowd wasn't nearly as ready to accept defeat as I was. They were irate. The manager tried to calm the crowd down and told us the reason they came out so early to tell us was because they had the exact number of Wiis that each Target in Southern California were getting. Most of them were only getting about 25. One store was getting 50. But was this information even useful to us? I mean, some of us waited in line since 4:00 in the morning... how were we gonna make it to any of these other Targets in time? One very angry customer yelled at the manager:
"Can't we get a rain check or something for when you finally get them at least? We waited a long time!" "I'm sorry, sir, but we can't do that," said the manager. "Excuse me!" replied the customer. "But I'm a lady, so that should be ma'am!!" she said as she stormed off, leaving the manager a bit embarrassed and issuing an apology that fell on deaf ears. The angry lady wasn't the only one who stormed off, though. 3rd in line grabbed his lawn chair was off like a shot even before the manager finished reading off the amount of Wiis at the other Targets. 2nd in line, the 9-month pregnant lady, said to us all, "Guess I'll try the other Target down here..." and took off really quickly. As the rest of the crowd slowly dispersed, I slowly dragged my feet to my car. But 4th guy in line, the birthday boy, ran up to me.
"How do you get to the Simi Valley Target?" he asked. That store was the one with 50 Wiis. "I'm not sure," I said in a defeated voice. Birthday boy looked desperate. The look on his face wasn't pretty, and I said to him, "Okay, follow me." I figured it was his birthday, so if I go out of my way to help him, it can't really be a bad thing, right? I could at least feel useful, so today wouldn't be a total wash. I took him to my car and I happen to have GPS in my car. I punched in the Simi Valley Target and showed him the directions. "Thanks, man!" said the guy. "So you going?!?" he immediately asked. "Well, I dunno," I replied. "You really think we can make it in time?" "There were about 30-some people here at 6:30," he said. "If the other store has 50, maybe we can get there in time!" I looked at him and figured, well, okay. I mean, if I've already gone this far, why not? "All right," I said. "Let's go!"
So I got in my car and started on my way to the other Target. And I was going fast. I never like to readily admit breaking the law on the freeway, but I was going pretty darn fast. And when I got to the freeway exit, I felt horrible. I gave birthday boy the wrong freeway exit! Was he gonna be able to find it?
Turns out yes: he actually followed me, fast-driving and all! We got to the Target and I noticed the line was fairly long but maybe not impossibly long. So I parked immediately and talked to birthday boy. "Man, I'm glad you followed me..." I said, feeling horrible about having given incorrect directions. "It's all right," he said. "By the way, I'm John," he said with a hand extended. "James," I said as I shook his hand. "Oh, and just between you and me," he said. "I totally would have run over the pregnant lady when the store opened up," he joked.
We got to the line and, lo and behold, 6th in line from the other Target was already there. "There are about 45 people in the line!" she shouted to me as John and I approached. So we jumped in line as quickly as possible. Mayhap there is still a tiny chance of scoring a Wii? At this point, I am about 47th in line. Because it was his birthday, I let John go ahead of me at 46th. And soon after, 5th in line (Mr. Conspiracy Theory) from the previous Target showed up and joins at 48th in line.
The guy in front of us, between John and formerly 6th in line, introduced himself as Araz (apologies to him if I have spelled his name incorrectly). The three of us conversed the entire time in line, wondering if we would finally actually get the Wii. John spent some time in line talking to friends on his cell phone. "You'll never guess where I am right now," he said into his phone. "I'm here, standing in line with my buddy James, trying to get a Wii in Simi Valley!" he said. And he kept referring to me as "Buddy James" for the rest of the day, and I kept calling him "Buddy John." Eventually, John said to a friend on the phone that he and I had just met for the first time earlier in the morning, and Araz surprisingly said, "You guys just met today?" He thought we were long time friends!
At this point, things started to get a bit dire, however. People were cutting into the line! It seemsed as if some people were holding places for their friends or something, and Mr. Conspiracy Theory got really angry. He began to yell at everyone who was walking into the line. "HEY!" he shouted as he left his place in line to berate random strangers. John, Araz, and I all looked at each other rather worryingly. When Mr. Conspiracy Theorist got back into line, he made some comment about how he would make sure no one else cut in line and then proceeded to pull a switch blade out of his pocket and showed it to us!! Now, John, Araz, and I were really worried as we gave each other concerned glances.
Mr. Conspiracy Theorist did what he could, though, without resorting to violence, thank goodness. He got blank paper and a pen from someone and began to try and hand out his own vouchers. No one at the front cared because, well, they obviously were getting their Wiis. So he tried giving those of us towards the back his homemade numbers. Really, though, it seemed pretty pointless. And as more and more people cut into the line, I just knew that I was gonna be left out. Again, my belief that somebody out there just doesn't want me to get a Wii kept creeping into my head. The Target employee who came out to address the queue said that it was only one Wii per household and that you had to be over 18 to get one, but then immediately admitted they weren't gonna enforce any of those rules. And there were rumblings of people earlier in line planning to buy more than one Wii (like a mother and her son) to see if they could sell it on eBay or something. I couldn't believe I went from being comfortably first in line to this!
We all waited as 7:30 rolled around. And waited more until 7:40. "Just give us the vouchers already!" we all shouted. If we weren't gonna get a Wii, we wanted to know now. And finally, at 7:45, the manager came back out and started to hand out the vouchers. "We only have 50," she said. "If you are not buying one, please step out of the line now!" A few people stepped out, including 6th in line (her boyfriend stayed). It was only a few people who left, but maybe... just maybe that was enough.
And sure enough, as the manager approached, Araz was #41, John was #42, and I was #43. A sigh of relief came over us all (and a bunch of groans came from the 30 or so people too far back in line). We would be getting our Wiis! After all that, it somehow felt like justice that we would actually pull it off. Then, from out of nowhere, Araz looked at John and said, "Um... can we switch tickets?" John was puzzled and said, "Sure!" and swapped so that he moved up to 41 and Araz moved back to 42. I looked at Araz and said to him, "You're a Hitchhiker's Guide fan, aren't you?" He smiled and said he was. I just chuckled in response.
So we were all finally let into the Target and we joked how we should all leave at the same time, to allow for safety in numbers in case anyone out there was gonna try and jump us. We even took turns holding each others' places in line so that we could use the restroom. And finally, the moment of truth: I got to the front of the line to pick up my Wii.
The employee brought the box over to me and, horror upon horrors, the corner was completely smashed!! You know, after all I went through, I refused to be shafted with a damaged box, being the collector that I am. "Can I... change that for a different one?" I asked. The employee looked at me, walked away, and came back with an undamaged box. "I completely understand," he said with a smile. "After all I've been through today," I said to him, "I figured I could press my luck just a little!"
So I paid for the Wii and left the Target. Araz got his and tried to keep his voucher ticket but wasn't allowed to. Conspiracy Theorist was getting his as well. I saw 6th in line and said, "Enjoy your Nintendo Wii!" She smiled and she and her boyfriend left with their new prize. Buddy John was outside waiting for me. We walked to our cars and congratulated each other. We shook hands one more time, and then we were off. If it weren't for John, I wouldn't have ever gotten the Wii. And heck, if it weren't for me, he wouldn't have gotten his either.
When I finally completed the long drive home (this Target was twice as far out as the original Target I went to), I got into my front door and my brother glanced at me and asked, "Did you get it?" I held the Wii over my head, Zelda style, and my brother said, "All right! So was it pretty simple this time?"
I rolled my eyes, groaned, and immediately turned and went into my room and said, "I'll tell you all about it after I get some sleep!" My brother laughed with an "Oh no!" and that was the last thing I heard before plopping myself onto my bed and falling asleep. The Wii would have to wait. But as long as the Wii was the thing that had to do the waiting and not me, I knew I could sleep soundly.