Your Soul Knows – Chapter 1 – JohnA Passaro
If I lay here,
Would you lay with me
And just look at the world?
September 19th, 2014
I am standing in line outside of an AT&T store on an abnormally cold September morning. I am waiting for the privilege to be one of the first people on earth, to be able to purchase Apples’ new iPhone 6 Plus.
I had always promised myself I would never be that person camping out for a new release, but today it was what I needed to do.
Today, standing in line in the bitter cold, was actually the best use of my time.
When I awoke this morning, I realized somehow, someway, I hadn’t left my house in over twenty days; a combination stemming from working from home and being a caregiver to my daughter Jess.
Standing in line in the freezing cold, with a brisk wind blowing in my face is better than the alternative, another day inside, sheltered from the elements.
So here I am, some eighteen people deep standing in line.
Every twenty minutes or so, an AT&T representative braves the cold, opens the door and to magnify the experience, lets one shopper into the store at a time.
The round trip shopping experience takes approximately twenty minutes. To the people standing outside in the cold, it seems much longer.
Based on where I am in line, I figure I have at least another four-hour wait ahead of me.
Just after letting in the latest shopper, the AT&T spokesperson leaves the warmth and shelter of the store, steps outside and makes two announcements.
His first announcement is, due to short supply, the store is limiting each person to only one new iPhone purchase or upgrade, per visit, today.
I am here to upgrade five iPhones.
I am informed in order to accomplish my task I will need to stand in line a total of five different times today.
The second announcement the AT&T representative makes is designed to prevent people from waiting in line for naught. He informs the crowd he is no longer allowing any new people to get online, as he believes the store’s supply of new iPhones will soon be exhausted.
Upon hearing these two new announcements, a Hispanic lady about five people deep in line takes out her “outdated” iPhone and makes a phone call to her family – she asks them to come down to the store, as they need to be present in order to get their new iPhone.
In a few short minutes, six of her relatives get to the store and attempt to merge into the line where she is standing.
The last six people on the end of the line suddenly realize their chances of getting a new iPhone today are now in jeopardy because of this new “merger.” They vocally express their displeasure to the AT&T employee, who has sheltered himself from both the cold and the crowd by retreating inside the store behind a glass door.
The AT&T employee initially makes believe that he cannot hear the concerns of the people on the back of the line. He acts as if the glass door that separates them is soundproof and he lets their discontent go unacknowledged.
He stands behind the glass door with a blank stare, hoping the crowd’s outcry will subside on its own.
It does not.
Within minutes, the situation erupts when the people who are standing in the back of the line, storm the front of the line, demanding fairness.
This new turn of events irritates the people who are standing in the middle of the line and they, too, decide to voice their displeasure and head towards the front of the line with the same concern.
Now there is no line, just a mass of disorderly people who feel slighted, all hovering near the front of the line.
The Hispanic lady is now being verbally abused by nearly everyone in the line.
It’s getting ugly.
The Hispanic lady makes a conscious decision that the best defense is always a good offense and she starts to verbally abuse her abusers.
Within seconds, people are in each other’s faces and personal spaces.
Somehow, the verbal abuse turns racial.
The AT&T rep, who now seems annoyed that his strategy of ignoring the concerns of the crowd did not work, leaves his post at the door and goes to get help.
By the time he gets back a minute later, the mass of people outside the glass door are nearly brawling.
All over an iPhone.
Actually, all over an upgrade of an iPhone.
Ironically, all over an upgrade with a feature that was designed to make it easier for people to communicate with one another.
You can’t make this stuff up.
I am standing back where the line once was, taking in the absolute absurdity of the situation.
I just want to walk up to the front of the line and scream:
“What the heck are you fighting for – it is a phone!”
But I remain quiet instead.
Eventually, the AT&T store rep calms everyone down by negotiating an agreement between the two sides.
He decides he will allow the six new people who merged into the line to enter the store with the Hispanic lady but they will not be able to purchase a phone themselves unless they go to the end of the line.
All parties agree this is fair.
The newly formed group enters the store together and twenty minutes later, all seven of them are carrying an AT&T bag with their new iPhones inside.
As they exit the store, all seven of them taunt the crowd by waving their bags high in the air.
A brawl nearly breaks out.
The only thing that saves the situation from erupting into a physical altercation is that the seven new owners of the iPhone 6 Plus jump into their car, which is parked nearby.
As soon as they get to safety inside the vehicle, their urge to taunt the people who are standing in line re-emerges.
They quickly close and lock the doors, roll down the windows and then they slowly drive the car by the crowd, while simultaneously giving everyone in line the middle finger.
A person from the line, who is infuriated with the whole situation, suddenly starts chasing after the vehicle while yelling racial slurs.
Thankfully, the car speeds away without altercation.
I contemplate how disturbing it is that people would treat each other so horribly, all over an upgrade of a phone. Certainly, this is not what Steve Jobs had in mind when he set out to change the world.
A second thought comes to my mind that five years ago I probably would have been one of these people iFighting over an iPhone.
But not today.
Today, I see life differently.
I have adversity to thank for that.
After another few hours of waiting in line, it is finally my turn to shop.
As I am about to enter the store the AT&T worker politely puts his forearm in front of my chest stopping me in my tracks and says,
“I am sorry – we are currently out of the iPhone 6 Plus.”
Reflexively, my blood starts to boil.
I breathe deeply and I exhale.
At this time I know I have a choice to make.
I could let standing in line for the last four hours in the blistering cold ruin my day, which would assuredly cause a negative ripple effect throughout the lives of anyone with whom I come in contact, which would then cause them to set off their own tsunami of negativity, or I can have some perspective.
I decide to have some perspective.
A quote by Victor Frankl comes to my mind:
“Between stimulus and response there is a space.
In that space lies our freedom and our power to choose our response.
In our response lies our growth and our happiness.”
Today, I decide to grow and to be happy.
I have adversity to thank for that.
Adversity has taught me what matters in life and what does not.
It has given me a new perspective; one I would not trade for anything in the world, except Jess’s recovery.
I ask the AT&T worker when he expects more iPhone 6 Pluss’ to arrive.
He responds that he doesn’t expect any more to come in for at least another six weeks.
I say, “Thank you very much, have a great day,” and I head back home.
Like I said before, I have learned what is important in life.
Being a “Life Changing Events Club Member” has taught me that I can use my iPhone 5s, with my 4.4-inch screen, for another six weeks.
It’s not going to kill me.
I have learned to save my fight for battles that are important in my life.
I fight every day, not for an iPhone, but for life, for love, for meaning and for the trust and courage to listen to my soul.
That is worth fighting for.