Fortunately for me the sick line at work is a voice mail system, therefore I didn’t have to explain why I was coming in late. Most of team would know, or at least have a good idea, why I was late. No need to explain myself to anybody on the night shift.
I considered the possibility of heading home for an hour or two but felt that it was too big a risk; people could start lining up at any time. I chose instead to stay at Target and wait for the line to start.
I went to a nearby gas station to pick up a newspaper and a cup of coffee then got something to eat at McDonald’s. By the time I got back to Target there were three people in line and it appeared they were the occupants of the cars that were there twenty minutes earlier. I parked my truck, left the engine running for warmth and proceeded to wait. I turned on the radio to listen to the news about Pope John Paul II and the Terry Schiavo case.
At 6:15 the line had grown to eight people. Traffic in the shopping center was picking up as the other stores prepared to open for business. Two more line dwellers arrived at 6:55 and waited in their car like I was. Sensing that it was going start getting very busy, I left the warmth of my truck and got in line.
The first four people in line could be considered the stereotypical Star Wars fans – geeks and dorks who get off on standing in line for anything related to Star Wars and enjoy prattling on about the movies and what George Lucas should have done to make them better.
I felt pretty good about myself as I realized that I’m nothing like these people. I can barely tolerate standing in line for anything.
The next four people were two dads and their daughters. These guys were more like me. The guy behind me seemed like an interesting dude until he mentioned that he was a local wrestling promoter. I turned my back on the freak and listened in on the conversation between the two dads.
Most of the people in line had gone to either Toys R Us or Wal-Mart earlier that morning. They compared what they all found and what they were still looking for. We all agreed that the main reason for being at Target this early was the Vader exclusive.
The Loss Prevention Manager came out at 7:50 to pass out cards to everybody in line. The cards guaranteed that the holder would receive one exclusive. The manager told us we could find the regular figures on an end cap near the front of the store and in a special aisle in the toy department. The exclusives could be picked up at the electronics counter.
One of the dorks up front noticed that the manager still had a few cards left over and asked if he would pass them out to those of us in line. The manager kept a smile on his face as he told the dork that he couldn’t do that. There were specific rules about the exclusive and he could lose his job if he broke those rules. The dork wouldn’t let up. He started carrying on about how we were the true fans of the movies and how he and his friends had been sleeping in their cars in the parking lot since 2:30 in the morning and how they deserved to get two of the exclusive figures.
The manager gave him an obvious “God, what a loser” chuckle and repeated that he couldn’t do that. He and his partner went back inside to get ready for the store’s opening.
Much as I expected, when the doors opened at 8:00, the dorks up front took off in a mad dash to the electronics counter. I took my time and grabbed a shopping cart. I was only going to buy five or six of the figures but thought I might get a couple more if they looked cool.
I waited on the clowns who were rummaging through the figures in the end cap. I found all of the figures I wanted there and a few others that matched my “looks cool” criteria. I went through them to make sure I had no duplicates before heading back to the electronics counter.
The guys at the counter gave me my exclusive and stamped my card so I couldn’t cheat and get a second figure. I meandered down to the Star Wars aisle to check out all of the new toys. There was a frenzy of activity as people were picking out the figures, vehicles and other items they wanted.
I eased my way into the aisle and beheld a slew of toys that weren’t available at the end cap. My eyes were like saucers as I felt a sliver of slobber creeping out of the corner of my mouth. I stood there transfixed for what seemed like hours. I hadn’t seen these toys beforehand and I wanted them with all my heart.
Without thinking, I grabbed the Obi-Wan Kenobi and General Grievous Unleashed figures, moved on to the Obi-Wan and Darth Vader Force Battler toys then started picking out more of the regular action figures. I tossed them all in my cart and headed to the checkout counter.
I had to wait on a fellow geek to pay for his exclusive figure. The cashier asked for the card he was given to verify that he was supposed to get one. “What a crock” I thought to myself. We should be able to keep that card as a souvenir from this glorious day. I reached into my pants pocket to retrieve the card. It wasn’t there. I checked the other pocket. It wasn’t there either. A wave of panic started through my body. I checked my back pockets, shirt pocket and my billfold. Still no card. Where the hell did I put it? I sifted through my stash in the shopping cart and it wasn’t there either.
I asked the cashier why she needed my card. She explained the purpose of the card and told me she had to have it to sell me the exclusive. I told her I couldn’t find it. She said she couldn’t sell it to me.
The panic picked up its pace as I took my cart and backtracked to the toy department. No card anywhere. The Loss Prevention Manager was still at the electronics counter with a box of exclusives. I told him about my dilemma. He assured me that the card was only needed to receive the figure. It wasn’t needed to pay for it. The panic subsided.
I went back to the same cashier. Once again she asked for the card. I told her what the manager told me. She didn’t believe me so she called him. He set her straight, she rang up my items and I headed out the door.
When I left I thought about taking my stuff home. It then occurred to me that if this Target didn’t sell out of the exclusive figure that it might still be available at the Target closer to work. I high tailed it to the other store.
Sure enough, they still had a few of the exclusives left. I bought one. I also picked up a few of the action figures I missed earlier and the Anakin Unleashed figure. The cashier who gave me the exclusive talked me into a really cool Target gift card that had a picture of Darth Vader on it. The card has a button on it that when pressed lights up Vader’s lightsaber and starts a sound chip that plays Vader’s breathing and the sound of his saber. It was too cool to pass on.
I took this second round of purchases to my truck and headed to work. A bunch of my friends were in the break room when I arrived and wanted to hear about my grand adventure. I felt more than a little silly as I recounted the experience, but they were all pretty cool about it.
Later that night I set out all of my new figures to examine the damage. When the day began I had planned to buy only five or six figures. Standing before me were twenty-one of the thirty-six figures released that day along with three Unleashed figures and two Force Battler toys.
Yet again, all I could do was laugh.
This is the exclusive I was looking for?