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The Playstation 3 Opportunity
by: Dr. Boogie

It's nearly midnight on October 30, and parents are lying awake in bed, dreading the coming day because they know that they will once again have to take up their least favorite task as parents, all for the sake of giving their own kids a few measly hours of happiness. I'm talking, of course, about Christmas shopping. Christmas seems to come earlier every year, and in response to that, retail outlets begin advertising Christmas sales earlier every year, and in response to that, the news media begin their coverage of the "War on Christmas" earlier as well. Indeed, the period that comes months before Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year.

However, there is an even bigger issue at hand than singing "White Christmas" in November and boosting your ratings by inciting a culture war. Every year, parents engage in a desperate bid to seize that one gift that will quell their kid's bellyaching just long enough for them for "Irish up" a traditional glass of Christmas eggnog. They'll do whatever it takes to get that one gift, whether it be waiting in line for hours upon hours, or just fighting like gladiators gladiating each other in the aisles of Toys 'R Us. Reliable sources have informed me that this year's hottest, non-Elmo items are the new Playstation 3 and Nintendo Wii consoles. Fans have been optimistic about the PS3, and Nintendo decided several months ago to change the name of their new system from the Revolution to the Wii because that way, the names of all three next-gen game systems would rhyme, regardless of whether you prefer the PS3, the 360, or the Wii. It's marketing at its finest, and it means long lines for some; opportunities for others.

A couple months back, I moved from Illinois to California in an attempt to find a job that would utilize my many skills and pay enough to cover the cost of living in California, which is slightly higher than it is in Illinois. As it turns out, though, that speech the dean gave at my college graduation about how having a degree would make job searches a snap was a bit exaggerated. Flash forward to the present, and I've lowered my standards to just about any job that doesn't involve either selling sunflowers at an intersection or telemarketing, and the sunflower position is starting to look pretty enticing. I've tried pointing out to prospective employers that I've been writing funny articles for several years now, but they all had internet connections and saw that I was lying through my teeth. Let me tell you, it really hurts to be told you're not funny enough to write technical manuals. So how could I get a little more income to hold me over until I found a career of some sort? The answer came in the form of a shiny black box that Sony had dubbed the "Playstation 3."

There was certainly no shortage of press announcing that it would be released on the 17th, and that there would be lines and tickets and trade-ins and blahblahblah. What caught my attention, though, was talk that people were already selling their preorders for the system for many times its actual worth, and that these buyers were not at all put off by the many potential problems with the system, not the least of which being that each console had been coated with a lead-based paint, making them very heavy and giving them toxic properties that can lead to madness (the so-called "Playstation Dementia" that medical experts had mistakenly diagnosed as a late-breaking case of "March Madness"). All this had got me thinking that, perhaps, I could secure one of these expensive pieces of high technology and sell it to some rube over the internet. And with a Best Buy in walking distance of my apartment, my plan seemed foolproof. After all, what are the odds that a line to buy the PS3 could get very long in a place like LA?

Best Buy had announced on their website that they would be opening at 8AM on the 17th, and that they would begin handing out tickets good for the purchase of a PS3 at 7AM. I had never actually tried to get in one of these lines before, so I wasn't sure what to expect. I decided to walk over to the Best Buy the day before the sale to check out how many people were camping out for the big release. To my surprise, there was no one outside the store, apart from a couple of employees with clipboards, probably waiting for an army of folding chair-wielding fans to descend upon the storefront. I was cautiously optimistic about the whole thing. Just to be on the safe side, though, I decided that I should try to be at the store by around 5 in the morning to guarantee myself a ticket.

The next morning was almost more fun than I could handle. I had come down with the common cold at the beginning of the week, and the one-two punch of orange juice and Benedryl had failed to drive it away by Thursday night, so my planned seven hours of sleep had shrunk to a one-hour catnap. No matter, I thought, I can keep myself awake for a few measly hours and get back in time to collapse on my crummy carpeting. Outside, the streets were positively deserted. Not even the crazy fellow who walks up and down the block all day everyday was out. I was briefly accosted by a man wanting to know if I would buy a filthy Mario plush doll from him, but other than that, it was clear sailing.

There was a short line of about twenty people in front of Best Buy. A bunch of those nearest the front had gathered together in some kind of huddle, presumably to tell each other war stories about how bad the wait was in lines past. I hadn't brought a chair of my own, but luckily, my spot at the end of the line was near a planter that was just high enough to make a perfect bench. Yes, everything was turning out ok. I hoped things would go just as well when they finally did start to pass out the tickets. After about twenty minutes, one of my fellow queuemates broke off from the huddle at the front of the line and came over to the guy just in front of me. He explained to both of us that the manager of the Best Buy had come by the store earlier and explained to the first guy in line, who had been there since 1 AM, that the tickets had already been given away the day before, for some reason. That seemed like a fairly gauche thing to do, especially considering that there were stories on the news about people getting shot at PS3 sales for far less. However, this particular Best Buy had proven to be a bit lacking when it came to... well, everything, so his story wasn't that hard to believe. The lead guy finally wound up taking a list of everyone's name and number, which he said he would include in an angry missive to the top dogs at Best Buy, and eventually everyone dispersed. As I left, it occurred to me that it could all be an elaborate ruse to get people to leave the line, but with only an hour of sleep to go on and a cold that had all but drained the life out of me, I was looking for any excuse to leave that line and get back to bed.

In the end, I was disappointed. I wasn't too disappointed, though, as I didn't bother to preorder the thing, and I was just looking to score some quick cash, and I got to go home and get a few more hours of sleep, but I was disappointed nonetheless. If I was really interested in playing the PS3 (which I'd have to be, considering the $600 price tag), I probably would have been infuriated by Best Buy's decision to blow off their own ticket schedule, but all I can say is, "meh." I can't let myself be brought down by one little setback. After all, I've got to get over to the big Elmo TMX sale. I've got a good feeling about this one.


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