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6/26/2007
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Meet The People Waiting In Line For An iPhone

A small group of people began forming a line in New York City on Monday to ensure they'll be among the first to get their hands on an Apple iPhone.

Perspiration glistened on Eric Mueller's forehead. His skin baked under the midday sun, as the heat index rose to 99 degrees. Mueller held the fifth spot in an iPhone line that started forming at 5 a.m. Monday outside Apple's flagship store on Fifth Avenue in New York.

With three days to go, it seemed that nothing could deter the small group of iPhone fans who waited patiently on Tuesday to spend up to $600 for an electronic device that promises to be all things to technophiles. It'll cost another $60 to $100 a month for a service plan to make it actually work.

Twenty-one-year-old David Clayman, an Ohio native who now calls Chicago home, wasn't defeated by the heat, lack of shade or nearby showers, his parents' worries, or strange interactions with random people on New York City streets at night. He had the fourth spot in line.

"I was a cross-country runner in high school," said Clayman.

Greg Packer, first in line for an iPhone outside an Apple story in Manhattan, Wednesday's New York Daily News in which he is featured. -- Photo by Sacha Lecca
(click image for larger view)


Greg Packer, first in line for an iPhone outside an Apple story in Manhattan, Wednesday's New York Daily News in which he is featured.

Photo by Sacha Lecca
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He also has a knack for making vacations -- like this one -- memorable. He's a young adventurer who, like others in line, seemed to enjoy the chance to meet all kinds of people, the novelty of being among the first in line, and the idea of actually getting one of Apple's new iPhones.

Meet people, they did.

After reading on a blog that Clayman hoped to get his hands on two phones -- one for his dad, whose 50th birthday is Saturday, and another to donate to the Taproot Foundation -- Pauline Zalkin, a Taproot program and development associate, showed up to offer thanks and T-shirts. She also wondered how Clayman picked Taproot, since he wasn't in the group's national database of volunteers. Clayman said he admires the founder and thought that many people who would read about a guy in an iPhone line would likely be the kind Taproot seeks.

Taproot matches companies that deliver IT, marketing, and human resources with nonprofit organizations in need. Clayman also thought the charity gesture would make his worried philanthropic father feel a little better about a son spending a few nights on a New York City street. Clayman said he tried to soothe his mother by saying that he also might meet a nice Jewish girl, but he was a bit more reticent when asked whether that had, in fact, occurred.

It was clear, however, that Clayman and his companions did make new acquaintances and friendships as they sat it out, surrounded by concrete and glass near the Apple Store, the GM building, FAO Schwartz, the Plaza Hotel, and Central Park South.

Clayman said a man named Barry approached him at night, and they talked about several things, including the death of Barry's ex-girlfriend. Clayman said Barry walked off abruptly, but serenely, after getting a hug.

During the day, rank-and-file employees and executives from the Apple Store and other nearby businesses, along with tourists, stopped to chat. Most were friendly and not particularly perplexed.

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