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Trio is first in line for iPhone 5

  • Charles Bahmandeji, Julian Diggs and Gregory Thornton (from left) talk to passersby as they await the release of the iPhone 5 at the Apple store (679 N Michigan Ave.) on Wednesday. (Hilary Higgins/RedEye)
Charles Bahmandeji, Julian Diggs and Gregory Thornton (from left) talk…
September 19, 2012|By Zara Husaini @zarhus | RedEye

“A buddy of ours was the first one to do it, and he passed away so we just kind of do it in his honor,” Gregory Thornton said.

The "it" he speaks of probably isn’t what you’d expect. It’s not a ritual or a rite of passage, at least not in the traditional sense. He’s with two of his friends on a busy corner of Michigan Avenue, and he’s prepared to stay there for days to wait out Apple's newest product, the iPhone 5. 

The phone hits stores on Friday, and 23-year-old South Side resident Thornton and his friends have been waiting since 3:30 p.m. Tuesday.

"This guy was first in line last year," he said as he points to his friend Julian Diggs.

Diggs, a 23-year-old Wicker Park resident, camped for two days last year in the cold and rain for another Apple product. He’s an enthusiast, and he thinks the products are definitely worth it.

“I’ve probably had like 12 iPhones throughout the years,” said Diggs, who refers to himself as an “iPro.” “I feel like I have a reputation to hold of being that No. 1 guy [in line]."  

Charles Bahmandeji of Uptown is joing them this year. The 24-year-old film student has never waited in line for an Apple product before, but he’s come prepared. The three men have “lots of blankets, heavy coats because it’s been getting pretty chilly lately, umbrellas, and people have been passing food out to us,” he said.  

“I’m excited,” Thornton said. “It’s a nice little adventure.”

“It’s cool seeing the offers we’re getting from people. People are spend money to get our spots,”  Bahmandeji said. 

So what do their friends think about what they’re doing?

“They think we’re crazy,” Diggs said. “But they look up to us,” Bahmandeji added.

Maybe their friends don’t understand what they’re doing, but there are plenty of people who do. And even though passer-by Jacob Paul, a 24-year-old cook from Wrigleyville, thinks it’s a display of ”gross consumerism,” Apple stores routinely have overnight guests outside their storefronts around the time of a new release.

“They’ve been very kind hosts,” Thornton said. He said that Apple stores let overnight campers use the bathrooms whenever they need to. Last year, Diggs and his friends were offered huge umbrellas to combat the rainy weather. 

For some, a new product release is an event that takes priority over others. Diggs said he’s pushed back a few business meetings to wait in line.

“I feel like this year it’s almost going to be like a party out here,” he said. 

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