iPhone 7 Launch

As those of you who have kept up with my story for awhile know, I work in Telco (for those of you who haven’t – surprise!).  While Telco has a tendency to get busy over Christmas (like all retail), we have a different time of year that brings out the crazy in all our customers, and people storming through the doors.  For us, this happens every September, when Apple announce their latest iGadget and the world goes into meltdown.

There are two types of people who work in Telco – those who can’t stand iPhone launches, and those who live for them.  I am in the latter category, which is lucky, as the iPhone 7 launch was my fifth one, although first in this job.  I worked the 4s, 5, 5s and 6 launches, although unfortunately missed out on the 6s as I was between jobs at the time.  You’d think the novelty would have worn off by now, but you’d be wrong.  If anything, my excitement grows every year.  Seriously, this is my Christmas.  I count down to it.  I love knowing all the nitty, gritty details about what the plan is for the day in advance.  I love reading up on the new phone, ready to answer all the questions that will come flying at me that day.  Previously, I’d spend hours designing posters advertising accessory packs, and drooling over which cases we could have in stock by launch day.  iPhone launch is my thing.

This year promised to be my biggest launch yet – not necessarily for the turnout, but just that I work in the biggest Telco store in the country, a store where the media flock to on a frequent basis.  I’ve never experienced something like that before, and it was so exciting knowing it was coming up.

Let’s step back though.  Back several weeks.  In fact, let’s go back a couple of months.  This is the quietest time in the Telco year.  The calm before the storm.  Our store is right in the middle of two of the busiest roads in the country, so we are always pretty chaotic.  The closer it got to September though, the more often I found myself looking around, expecting a customer to serve, and instead got nothing.  It was a nice change, but I also knew it wouldn’t last.  The one thing all Telco employees hate in this lead-up though is the customers who walk in, proclaiming they know all about the upcoming iPhone and when it will be released and what features it will have.  They believe that because they have mastered how to type “new iPhone” into Google, that they suddenly know more than anyone in the shop, and refuse point blank to believe that anything they read could be a rumour, or made up.  They don’t understand how secretive Apple are, and how very little Telco employees know – I can tell you we get told absolutely nothing.  As far as I’m aware, even Apple employees themselves don’t get told anything.  It’s all on a need-to-know basis with Apple, and as frontline staff, we definitely do not need to know.  So sorry, Mr Customer, if I take what you’re telling me with a very large grain of salt.

The calm goes right through until Apple’s Keynote announcement, which for Aussies, happens at 3am.  From then on, things start picking up again in store, if only for customers walking in, asking to see the phone, and getting frustrated and/or disappointed when we say “it isn’t out yet, it was just announced, come back in a week”.  Still, the storm is well and truely brewing.  The other reason people come in is for pre-orders, which I still find a fairly new concept, as Apple only allowed this for the last three launches.  Prior to that, it was line up or risk missing out.  I’m on the fence about pre-orders – on one hand it’s great as it means customers can get their new iToys quickly without having to take time off work, but on the other, it dampens the spirit of iPhone launch a little bit.  I still remember iPhone 4s launch clear as day, with lines snaking around the shopping complex as people eagerly waited for the chance to grab their own device.  The atmosphere is electric because the people in line knew they’d be the first in the world to get them, and rightly so, as they braved the elements camping out for it.  Now, with pre-orders, people can arrange a phone delivered to their home or office on launch day, all with a couple of clicks.  Not really the same vibe.

Anyway, launch day eve finally rolls around.  In this massive store, an incredible amount of planning has gone into the day, right down to where each staff member is sitting and when they’re going on lunch.  Nobody knows if there will be ten people or a thousand people waiting the next day.  Hell, we don’t even know for sure what stock we’ll have.  All we know is, the storm is about to bare down on us, and we need to be ready to ride it out, whether it’s gritting your teeth and fighting through it, or like me – grabbing a surfboard and enjoying the ride!

Safe to say I didn’t get much sleep the night before.  I was rostered to start at 7am, but got there well before 6.30.  I was buzzing with excitement, so much so I could barely contain myself.  There had been people camping out, but only a handful.  Still, that wasn’t much of an indication of how the day would go, as most of our customers work in the city and would no doubt come in closer to starting-time.

We all grabbed our laptops, food and caffeinated beverages, and listened to the managers give pep talks.  We were given a run down of the plans (again) and told where we’d be sitting.  We then headed downstairs, where they’d set up a red carpet, a DJ booth and bowls and bowls of candy for the customers.  The media were already out in force, with at least 3 different major news carriers there, waiting to film the first customer collecting his iPhone.  There were also famous footy players there to add to the hype.  We all got into a group behind them, where photos were taken, and video was captured that landed on several news stations.

As with all launches, we aren’t allowed to sell any of the phones until 8am.  God help you if you sell one before then!  Apple have ways to track this and you don’t want to piss off one of the largest companies in the world.

As 8am crept closer, we met with all the customers in the line, and then the countdown began.  I’m talking a literal countdown, like on NYE.  Then the doors opened, the the first customer came through the doors, with the media swarming him, asking what it was like to camp out overnight and what it felt like to be one of the first people in the world to get an iPhone 7.  We all got our own customers, and the day was off.

The media hung around for most of the morning, filming everything we were doing.  We had managers walking around, trying to feed us sugar, and our barista was handing out coffees by the trayful.  The music was pumping and all the customers seemed to enjoy the set up.  Despite being very early in the morning for someone like me, I was loving every second of it.

Keyword: was.

By midday, my excitement levels had dropped off a little.  There weren’t as many customers as we’d been hoping for (thanks mostly to our record number of pre-orders), and exhaustion had begun to set in.  By the last hour of my (very long) shift, I was a walking zombie.  I couldn’t even fain excitement any more.  My legs hurt, my eyes were drooping and even my crush couldn’t lift my spirits much.  I’ve never felt that exhausted that early on a launch day.  Usually, I can work through from 7am to 10pm at night and still be buzzing.  I think it came down to the fact that we wound up sitting around a lot instead of being constantly go-go-going, which gave me time to realize how wrecked I was.

Overall, it was a fun day, but I was extremely glad to be told I could leave half an hour early.  The second I got home, I flicked on the TV and counted how many times I was on it – multiple times over three different stations.  Once the news ended, I went straight to bed and slept like the dead.

And if you think that iPhone launch ending also brings the end to the storm, you are dead wrong.  It has been, and will continue to be, absolutely crazy busy for the next several months.  Some days this is great as it makes the shift fly by, and other times, it’s like walking straight into hell.  You are constantly surrounded by masses of people, and when stock is out (which is 90% of the time right now), the only question on everyone’s lips is “when is it back in?”, which we never have an answer for.

Regardless of any of this, next September will leave me counting down until launch again.  It’s addictive and electric and if there comes a day when I’m not in Telco, I’m going to sorely miss it.

How many of you have gotten the new iPhone?

J x

Time to Change – Day Forty-Nine

I’m writing this in my car, pulled into a random side street a few kilometres from my house, waiting for my dad go come and save me.  My car is playing up big time and stalled on me while I was crossing a 4-lane Freeway.  Luckily I had a green light, luckily it was rolling just quick enough for me to get into the street before the lights changed, luckily there wasn’t anyone behind me.  Still, despite all that, I’m not feeling really lucky.  It’s times like this I wish I knew more about cars.  It’ll never happen though because to know about them you have to have at least a basic interest or passion in them and honestly, I don’t.  I can’t even pretend to.  When guys talk about cars my eyes glaze over and my mind starts to do this:

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This is why I either over react about things that don’t matter (like when my car was leaking oil and I dragged my dad 40 mins away to my house for him to say they probably just over filled it during the service it had just had) or I completely under react and assume if I just keep driving, the problem will fix itself (which is basically what happened in this instance…only it did not fix itself).  This is also why I asked my dad to come and look at the car today and not use roadside assist.  It’s one thing for dad to roll his eyes and tell me it’s nothing, it’s different if a professional comes out and has to point out you’ve overlooked something dumb (it’s happened before).

Even aside from the fact I’m stuck annoyingly-close-but-not-close-enough to my house right now, today hasn’t been the best day.  I woke up feeling pretty good, after falling asleep at 8pm on the couch when my time-of-the-month cramps let up for a little bit, then dragged myself to bed at 9.30.  I slept pretty solidly right  through til about 6.30, then remembered there’s no traffic on Saturdays and fell back asleep.  Woke up with just enough time to get dressed and organised but not to eat breakfast (gahhh) and rushed off to work – the first Saturday I’ve had to work in months.  I was dreading it because I know how crazy my old work was on Saturdays, and my new work was always at least double that on a normal day.

I was greeted by the manager who I hadn’t seen for over a week, and he made me feel a little better about the day, though whole heartedly agreed it was going to be chaos.  Despite that, he was so cheerful that it made me feel good.  We need more people like that, I think.  They’re who you want around on hard-to-get-out-of-bed mornings.

Anyway, the day went okay I guess.  Crazy busy by lunchtime but thankfully the floor manager (aka the conceirge) was on the ball and putting everyone on the list and advising of the long wait time.  I can’t stress enough how wonderful floor managers are.  We had a good one at my old work too, but prior to telco introducing them, it was bedlam on busy days.  Everyone just had to cue up and wait, and they never knew how long they’d be in line for.  They also weren’t acknowledged or greeted or thanked for waiting.  As a staff member at that time you were so focused on getting your customer in and out it just never occurred to you to do any of that as people waited.  Then you’d finally get to the people in line and they were already in filthy moods before the interaction even happened.  Now, with the floor manager greeting everyone who walks in, filtering the customers between one-minute jobs (bill payments, recharges, simple tech issues) and longer issues (contracts, bill disputes, more complex tech problems), it means everyone is spoken to, advised of the appropriate wait time, and allowed to leave and come back.  It makes the customers happy they’re acknowledged, and they love that we aren’t taking up huge chunks of their day making them wait, especially bill payers who would otherwise be stuck behind all sorts of longer issues (personally I don’t understand why anyone under about 60 needs to come into a store to pay a bill these days anyway but that’s beside the point).

Having everyone on a list meant that the franticness and pressure of a weekend shift is lifted a little, as there aren’t dozens of people greedily eyeing you off as you wrap up with your current customer.  It also means everyone can take a lunch break without feeling guilty or people huffing and puffing as you walk out of the store.

So that part of the day went okay.  The store got so hot though.  I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it previously but oh god, does this store heat up.  My other store did too, but not like this.  Everyone sweats even on cool days, and it’s made worse when it’s busy as there are more bodies (staff and customers) in the space.  It’s horrible.

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So, I got interrupted because my dad arrived.  And just like I’d fully expected, he drove it to the petrol station then the rest of the way to my place without so much as a hint of stalling or issues with getting into gear.  Trust.  My dad knows a bit about cars (he used to race them when he was younger – which explains where I get my lead foot from 😉 – and his brother is a mechanic) but he didn’t really have much to say except maybe I’d just bought cheap dirty fuel and it was causing issues.  As I was on a bit of a budget until now, this is potentially true.  Honestly, I can’t remember what I filled up with last time.  I know I used a gift card so I’d have assumed I’d have put the high quality stuff in, but I may not have in an effort to stretch the voucher.  I know right back when the car was brand new, bad fuel caused issues as well, so I’m not ruling it out.  Dad filled it with premium (which I generally do) and said the whole way home it ran fine.  Honestly, I don’t care what was causing the issue, as long as it doesn’t keep coming back.  Or if it must come back, not temporarily so everyone thinks I’m crazy!

Oh wait.  I just remembered I didn’t fill up at my usual place last time.  I filled up near work.  And I don’t remember what I put in but it very well could have been cheap stuff.  God, I’m so stupid.  I never really trusted that place (though I never had any issues for the years I’ve been going there) so maybe dad is right.  I hope so.  Easy fix if it is, as I won’t be driving past that petrol station much longer anyway!

Anyway, where was I before the interruption?  Right, work.  So, overall the day went about as well as I expected.  Busy, but under control, and really hot and uncomfortable.  I really hope my new store is wonderfully temperature-controlled.  I figure it probably will be since it’s not part of a shopping complex.  Looking forward to that!

I was naughty on the way home.  I’ve said previously I have very little self-control with food.  I ate well for lunch (after skipping breakfast), but I couldn’t resist Maccas on the way home.  I know, I’m supposed to be dieting.  I am going to eat well all weekend (having very little junk at home, that isn’t going to be too difficult) so I saw it as a cheat meal.  I know my trigger is being in the car, after a long day (and a long week), driving past my regular Maccas.  I know that very soon I won’t have this trigger any more, so this could be one of the last times I let it get the better of me.  As much as I love Maccas, I’m relieved that I won’t have to constantly fight my temptations on the way home every day.  But you’ll be passing Maccas on your way home from your new store!  I hear you cry.  You aren’t wrong.  The difference is, firstly, that’s not part of a bad routine I’ve let myself get into, so the temptation isn’t anywhere near as strong, and secondly, I don’t want to be one of those people eating on the train.  I also don’t want to be the sadcase sitting in a fast food restaurant by myself.  I know there will be times where my workmates want to eat out – and on those occasions I probably will too – but I feel like this isn’t going to be a super regular thing so I’m not too concerned.

I think the first point is the strongest though.  If it isn’t part of a routine or habit, I generally don’t have any issue with it.  A Maccas opened up about 3kms from my house, and you’d think I’d eat there all the time, but I’ve never eaten there.  Although I see it on the way home, I have to go out of my way to get it, which I just wouldn’t do.  I also made a conscious effort to make sure I didn’t eat there so that it didn’t form a habit.  I’m going to try to do that where possible with the places near my work too.  I’m going to bring my lunch each day, and as much as possible, go straight home after work.  The less food I buy there, the better.  I know this is all just talk at the moment, and it’s easier said than done, but I think I can do it.  It’s a chance to have a fresh start.  I built up a lot of bad habits in my five-and-a-half years in this shopping centre and surrounding area, whereas I’ve never worked in the city.

What else is new today?  Well, I woke up with a sore ear (again).  This one I think is self-inflicted.  I have a bad habit (there’s that word again!) of cleaning my ears frequently with cotton buds.  I know, I know, that’s really bad.  That’s why I think it’s self-inflicted.  It happens every now and again, and gets really sore, then clears up within a few days.  You’d think I’d learn but because I’m so used to cleaning them, I find it very hard to stop.  Plus, they get really itchy if I let wax build up.  I need to kick this habit too, but it’s just part of my routine.  Still, if I can shake the fast food addition, I can easily do the same with this!

I’m gonna wrap this up here by saying I’m so glad it’s finally the weekend.  It seems like it was Monday an eternity ago.  I’m getting my nails redone tomorrow, then I have to clean the house as I’ve got an inspection on Thursday.  I hate inspections so much, but at least I started cleaning last weekend so it’s not such a huge job.  It’s still big as I avoid cleaning at all costs normally, just not as big as it often is.  At least the backyard looks nice.  That’s usually the main issue they have, but the grass got mowed on Tuesday so it’s not out of control!

Happy weekend, y’all!

-JD