Getting some newfangled device, like a Wii, can be a challenge if you work and live in a tech-happy environment like Seattle or Redmond. In the end, losing power for 3+ days was the break I needed to get mine.
On Saturday, December 17th, Gretchen and I where able to get a good night's sleep by staying at a friend's house. I decided that I'd wake up and be at the stores for 7am to score one. I'd heard this worked the weekend before for a couple of people. When I pulled up to the local Target, I discovered a line of over 50 people that had been there since around 4am. 20 people in that line had already heard they probably weren't going to have more than 30 units!
I went across the street to Fred Meyer's. There were only 16 people there and I was up anyway. At 7am the doors opened and the rush was on to the electronics department where the hoard was greeted by an overly plucky sales rep who proclaimed "we have no Wii's" in a sing-songy voice. The hoard scrambled to make plans for the 8am store openings.
I decided to drive myself into the belly of the beast... the Best Buy in Bellevue. I pulled in around 7:20 and the temperature was around 25 degrees fariegnhight. There was a small line... a little too small. Then I noticed a lot of people sleeping in cars in the parking lot. At 7:30 the store manager was nice enough to come out and tell everyone that the folks in the cars had showed up at 3:30am and he gave them all the vouchers he had.
This scene, according to all the cell phone conversations I heard, was being repeated all over the Puget Sound area. Parents who had divided to conquer - and even enlisted the help of local teenagers - were starting to lose hope. I asked the crowd if anyone was going to get a PS3... I was laughed at. One person told me that his family "already had a 360."
I got back in my car and started driving slowly east. I was already awake; what else did I have to do? I started trying to think creatively as if this was a Microsoft interview question. Then, in a flash of Obi-Wan brilliance, I had an image of Joe in my head, who had told me a couple weeks ago ,"What you're going to have to do is find some place that people wouldn't think would stock them. " At the same time I entered a section of the Bellevue grid that had no power. I then wondered if people would neglect the Circuit City that didn't have power. They had.
I pulled into a dark storefront a few minutes before their scheduled opening time. I was person #2. Several cars drove up, looked at the dark store, and drove away. A couple of employees arrived. They didn't know anything except that they would get credit for four hours of work even if the store didn't open as long as the manager knew they were there. I think one of them called the manager to tell him about the line, that had struggled to get to 5 people, had exploded to 50. Fifty people waiting with no apparent hope in front of a store with no power. Person #3 asked me if I had even played one. I had, but he hadn't. He said he didn't even like games, but heard this was different!
At 8:20am a very bundled-up store manager arrived and started counting off from the front of the line. He got to #15 and said, "You'll all get Wii's once we have power!" At 2pm they had power and I picked up my Wii. They didn't have any accessories, but I found an extra Wii-Mote lying around at the Best Buy later that week... while I was waiting for our car window to be repaired since the thieves had busted it to steal Gretchen's purse. I guess I should thank the savages.
Why did I bother writing this down? This is hour #5 at the Houston airport waiting for flights that are canceled amongst an ever growing population of stand-by patrons. It was time for something fun.