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Thursday, June 28, 2007 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Queuing up for iPhone: Do's, don'ts if you must have it NOW

Seattle Times staff reporter

Whatever you do, boys and girls, do not pee your pants. This is bad form and upsets the people around you. Also, it is probably not a good time to practice torch-juggling or any other activity involving fire.

Friday is iDay, when Apple's much-hyped iPhone goes on sale — at 6 p.m., for you day-planner-marking Neanderthals — and with amped-up tech-junkies already queuing up at their nearest Apple store or AT&T Wireless dealer, it's a good time to review some basic rules of line etiquette.

If some things are worth having, they are worth waiting for, and if they are worth waiting for, they are worth waiting in line for. (Or having someone else wait in line for: Numerous ads on Seattle Craigslist offer to endure your day of iPhone line-waiting for $100 or more.) In America, this is how we do things. First come, first served. Everyone has an equal chance, provided you are a lunatic.

The strategy is simple enough: Get there ridiculously early and be prepared to wait. Remember that while others may be home sleeping, somewhere more comfortable and/or unconcerned, you alone are up to the task required in pursuit of your goal. That's what makes you a winner.

The goal this time? The iPhone — part cellphone, part iPod, part wireless Internet device, another status-marking time-sucker on the road to 24/7 stimulation. Never mind that if they sell out, there will be more; that there are likely still kinks to be worked out; that other phones have many of the same features: You must have it, and you must have it first.

In moments like these, waiting is an event in itself. Hannah Blomberg, marketing/events coordinator at Overlake Hospital, remembers blowing off post-midterm steam by waiting overnight with fellow college students for the grand opening of Issaquah's Krispy Kreme Doughnuts in 2001.

"The experience of waiting in line was more important than what we were waiting for," Blomberg e-mails. "... We even brought camping gear and made T-shirts for the occasion."

Lola LeBlanc, a Seattle communications consultant, remembers waiting five hours to meet former President Bill Clinton at an event in New Orleans. "You have never seen Southern belles lose their etiquette more quickly," she says, also via e-mail. (This is how we do things in the fast-moving, electronic world. Try to keep up.)

"We were very polite and chatty in line," LeBlanc says. "... But when he appeared, we became a vicious herd of mad cattle."

Celebrity sightings, concert tickets — they're all fair game, but nothing stirs up the nest, or the stanchions, like tech product launches, from PlayStation to Xbox to Wii. (One can only imagine the buzz when Kehotep rolled out the Ancient World's first spoked wheel. The line must have stretched all the way around the pyramid.)

What do you do if you need to take a bathroom break? "Establish the people behind and ahead of you as pee buddies," suggests one poster on MacRumors.com in preparation for tomorrow's launch, "and offer them the same courtesy as you would like from them."

What kind of behavior is acceptable? In other words, it's one thing to pass the time playing Yahtzee; quite another to engage in full-time lip-locking with your girlfriend.

Is it OK to save spots for others? "Don't expect it to be all candy and roses if your pals try to sneak into line with you 5 minutes before the doors open," says a posting on Xbox360fanboy.com. "Countries have gone to war over less and you will not survive it."

Think of it as a temporary brotherhood, strangers united in a common goal, with the same immediate priorities — to stay warm, fed and entertained. But clearly, whether you come out alive could depend on your answers to these questions.

Marc Ramirez: 206-464-8102 or mramirez@seattletimes.com.

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company

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