Last Wednesday evening, the ol' one was driving past one of those big consumer electric stores in one of those "box" shopping centers, when he noticed something strange going on. There were probably 20 or 30 people standing around in the night.
At first the ol' one thought that this was a picket line protesting some unfair labor practice that at least one of those "box" retailers has been accused of. As he slowed down, he further noticed that many of these folks had set up tents alongside the building.
Wow! These folks app-eared to be serious and were in it for the long run.
Then, the ol' one put one and one together. No these weren't union members protesting an unfair labor practice or low wages. These folks had literally camped out to be among the first in line for the release of Sony's new PlayStation 3 video game console, supposedly the most sophisticated video game console to date.
That was last Wednesday night, Nov.15. The release date was Friday, Nov. 17. So, in effect, squatters' rights had taken over the sidewalk for 48 hours! The ol' one's first reaction was, "Don't these yahoos have something better to do than to camp out around the clock for a piece of hardware?"
PS3, as those in the know say, supposedly pro-mises to dazzle the most hardened veteran of early Nintendo games. This alle-gedly revolutionary console will come with (Are you ready for this? Put down that cup o' joe.) thumb-numbing and mind-commanding ga-mes like Sonic the Hedge-hog and Resistance: Fall of Man.
As the ol' one read on down the list of breakthroughs, of which there are supposedly many, he, too, had to put down his cup o' joe as he discovered that PS3 comes with: a Sixaxis controller, a memory card adaptor, Blu-ray remote control, the ability to go online to play games, the ability to download game and entertainment content, and (Hold on to your hard drive) improve the look of any movies you may have on DVD... if you have a HDTV. By the way, HDTV stands for High Definition Television.
Now, what does one have to pay for this latest wonder of wonders?
One version with a 60 GB hard drive, WIFI wireless internet, and that can read flash ram cards goes for $599. The other version at $499 has only a 20 GB hard drive without the WIFI wireless internet and flash ram card readability.
What? No snooze alarm?
Wow! Sony has done it again. Like one of its ad slogans used to say, "Sony ...No baloney."
That line around the building piqued the ol' one's memory about a couple of other crazes to which led-by-the-nose consumers fell victim. Remember those Cabbage Patch dolls? There were lines and even some reports of fisticuffs for them.
And, one of the ol' one's dearest friends, Rick of Manayunk, just had to get up to New York a few years ago for the premier of "Apocalypse Now," and said that the line wrapped twice around the block in the rain.
There's something all too human in wanting to be among the first, if not the first, on your block to have something no one else has-as yet, anyway.
After all the hoopla dies down and more of a product gets into the consumer pipeline, chances are that what a person buys or views will be the same as it was on that big, release day.
The ol' one has to hand it to the marketing departments of those companies like Sony Coleco: They sure know how to whip a target audience into a frenzy.
But, along with any target audience comes an overall objective. In retailing, it's called sales, which means revenue, which means dollars.
Now the ol' one does not begrudge any company from trying to make a buck. In fact, we all go for that extra dollar. What seems odd to the ol' one is that how easily and readily consumers fall for this ballyhoo, and in foolish ways, like camping out on a sidewalk or running up to New York.
Eventually, whatever it is that is being hyped at the cost of a consumer's personal dignity and integrity will wind up on a shelf in aisle three or four or five or six. Guess what? It will be the same as the one that the fools who waited in line for hours and days brought home.
Oh, sure, those who waited in the cold and wind of night and blistering heat of day will no doubt have stories to tell. So be it. That's human nature; the foolish part of human nature.
The ol' one just hopes that those lines of fools had some hot joe to weather their wait. The ol' one pre-fers his joe in a cup or a mug, either in the serenity of the porch or the comfort of the parlor, where he can enjoy his DVD of Apoca-lypse Now (if he had one) or play a game of pong (or is that Mario?) on the Gate-way.
Readers can contact the ol' one at email@example.com.