Apple released the new iPhones in Belgium today. And it was a weird launch for me.

The last couple of years I’ve always stood behind the counter on launch day selling iPhones to eager customers. I always reserved one at work, which meant no lines, no stress, just a quick and easy purchase before the shop opened.

But this year Apple’s supplies were severely limited and getting a 64gb iPhone 6 in space grey (my chosen model) from our own store wasn’t possible on launch day.

Which meant.. doing something I had never done before: find a reseller, stand in line and hope that I would get one. Weird. It felt like being a civilian after being in the army for years. Buying an iPhone. In line. Like regular folks.

The plan

Base, a local provider, announced a launch event at midnight last week. And rumors had it they would have hundreds of devices in stock. So I decided to gamble on getting a device there.

I arrived at the location six hours in advance, with not a soul waiting. No lines yet. Not wanting to be ‘that guy’ who sat in line alone, I waited and scanned the scene. The scene being the grand hall of Antwerp’s train station. A gorgeous place.

There were to other guys also hanging around eyeing the ‘line starts here’ sign. We decided to start the line together and luckily all needed a different model. No difficulties there.

The Line

A few hours later and the place was packed with hundreds of people. But guess who was that guy in front of the line? Me.

It was a weird crowd. I’m used to helping people at a launch but hearing regular people in line talk about products I love and know is weird.

People who don’t backup. Who believe that force quitting apps is good. Who don’t use passcodes. Dozens of app updates and other notifications on their home screen. People who talk rumors as if they where Truth. Bendgate, celeb nude hack, Apple copying Android, people who don’t know Gruber or Dalrymple. Ugly. Just ugly.

And then there was the people who panicked. Someone had heard there was no stock. Would there be stock? “I heard only existing customers can buy one, You have to pay cash.”…

It’s weird how one guy’s question becomes reality ten people later.

It was the first time I waited in line for an iPhone. I never felt more alien in my life waiting for a product I work with every day.

The launch

Right. A launch. Cameras. In my face. Asking questions. And then I remembered: my boss doesn’t want us to talk about the iPhone 6 to the media before launch. So I guess he wouldn’t like me talking about my future iPhone 6 on national tv after hours either. Luckily the reporter understood.

But first in line also meant we had to run to the register to get our phone. Those cameras wanted excitement.

So this morning there’s a picture in every national newspaper of me running to get an iPhone… It’s the first time I waited in line for an iPhone. And now I’m geek running to get his iPhone at midnight-guy.

The iPhone

Being first in line had a benefit: every model was available. So two minutes past midnight I was out of the store (after, yet again pointing some reporters the other way) and walking home with an iPhone waiting to be installed.

Issue: I had updated my iPhone 5s to 8.0.1 in that thirty minute window it was available yesterday. And overnight my iPhone had backed up to iCloud, so when I tried to restore from backup the iPhone 6 failed completely. Would this be the first time in 7 years I would configure my iPhone from scratch? I decided to put the iPhone aside and figure it out after a night of sleep. Luckily I woke up with 8.0.2 available. A quick update of both devices and problem solved.

Reviewing the model one day in isn’t possible, but at first glance: the front is the most beautiful piece of glass ever. the back is the worst designed iPhone ever.

So all in all, pretty funny experience. But I hope that next year I can just buy the iPhone at work again. Quick and easy without any hassle. And without cameras.