After living on the street for three nights and four days in front of Apple's (AAPL) San Francisco store, Chris Bank, a 26-year-old marketing and sales consultant from San Francisco, got hit with a double-whammy of good news and bad news.
On Wednesday night, Bank, who had made an offer to rent out the first spot in line found a buyer: Joe Sabia, a 26-year-old sales and marketing guy from San Francisco. Bank rented the space for $400, making enough to cover the cost of buying an iPhone 4 -- providing he signed a two-year AT&T (T) service agreement.
But that's where things went awry.
As Bank strolled into the Apple store Thursday morning feeling victorious that he sold the spot and covered his costs for an iPhone 4, a sales clerk dealt a blow. Bank had to renew the AT&T business contract that was paying for his service. Trouble was, he wasn't the one paying for the service. An enterprise software start-up where he worked as a consultant was responsible for paying the bills. The company, not Bank, would have to authorize the renewed AT&T contract.
That left Bank with two options: notify the company he was upgrading his phone and they'd have to re-enter the AT&T contract, or pay for an iPhone 4 without a contract at a higher rate and have it swapped in for his BlackBerry.
Bank opted to do neither.
With a stunned and sleep-deprived look, Bank told the sales clerk that he'd buy an iPad instead. But the clerk, with a pause, replied: "Sorry, we're out of iPads."
That left Bank empty-handed as left the Apple store, with nothing but a free T-shirt provided by Airbnb for using their service to find a renter and $400 in his PayPal account from Sabia.
"I can't believe it. I don't have an iPhone. I don't have an iPad," Bank said, whose attitude about whether his marathon wait was worth it had dramatically changed.
Here's a look back of what he endured from midnight Monday to when he stepped into the Apple store:
The Battery Life Challenge
During his lengthy stay on the street, Bank had to constantly find polite responses to a stream of passersby asking basic questions such as, "What's the store hours?" "what's the occasion?" and on and on. In addition, with the constant interruptions, it was difficult not only to work on his computer but also to respond to the influx of Tweets and posts on Airbnb.com, where he advertised the space. But the most critical challenge that Bank faced was battery life for his computer and cell phone.
Bank noted his friends were making 10 stops a day to help him recharge batteries and swap out computers and cell phones as needed to keep him connected to the Internet. "I'm sure they're already thinking of creative ways to have me repay them," said Bank. "They're the best."
And in dealing with the public and the interruptions that came with it, Bank, who is used to working in small groups of 10 or less at early-stage technology companies, said he had to remain focused and direct his "attention well."
"The interactions have been really diverse and sometimes you just have to let things slide. I've even run into language and sobriety barriers," says Bank, adding, "All of it has been great fun though. I'm pretty easy going most of the time."
The Kindness of Strangers
Bank, who has never slept in line for a product launch or concert tickets before, said overall he was able to meet his basic needs from meals to showering and sleep.
For starters, he never had to pay for a meal. Friends and strangers were constantly coming by with food and drinks.
"Sandwiches are frequently purchased and passed around. And a woman bought me a really healthy shrimp and beet-asparagus linguini and a liter of 100% coconut water," Bank says, adding: "Surprisingly... people [are] paying attention on Twitter. I just asked for food other than sandwiches and tea and got sushi and tea."
"A Pretty Solid 'Hourly Rate'"
When it comes to his bathing and bathroom needs, the Apple store provided access to its restrooms, he said. It has allowed him to keep his teeth brushed and his bladder happy.
As for sleep, earplugs helped mute the sound of rumbling trucks that passed by, and his ability to fall into a deep sleep when he's tired served him well.
Overall, Bank said his life on the street has been worth it. "It's enjoyable because it's a new experience with new takeaways, including, of course, an iPhone and a pretty solid 'hourly rate' so to speak."
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