You can take Mr. Sato out of the line-up, but you can’t take the line-up out of Mr. Sato.

It’s been two years since Mr. Sato retired from waiting in line for iPhones on their release day. Once the belle of the ball and mingling with celebrities, the glitz and glamour eventually died down, ultimately leaving our reporter cold and alone outside a locked door on the release of the iPhone X.

It’s been hard, however. Over the months he realized that it was never about the phones or the pageantry that came with it. It was about The Line.

Lining up had become a part of Mr. Sato to the point that he found himself lining up to make diner in his own kitchen. Getting things right away lacked any sense of accomplishment for him any more, and anything that was worth getting ought to have been waited for.

▼ Mr. Sato occasionally would enter a random line without even knowing what it was for.

He managed to keep himself busy enough to resist the temptation of the line last year during the iPhone XS and XR launch. This year, however, his schedule was open and that itch to wait in the biggest line in Tokyo returned.

Before the new phones were even announced, Mr. Sato went to the SoraNews24 internal network and raised a call to arms.

“Everyone, a new iPhone will be announced soon and will probably be released within the month. So, I am planning to do another iPhone line-up, but I’d like to share this honor with a new member.
By my calculations, the announcement will be made at 2 a.m. on 11 September (JST), and following the announcement pre-orders will likely open on the 13th. I feel confident that it will go on sale that same week on the 20th. If that’s the case, then we should expect to start lining up on the 17th.
This is fun! I want to do it!! If you too are interested then please join me!! Young people come on!! Old people too, why not?!”

However, no one replied to Mr. Sato’s message. Did no one want to leap at this chance to make a name for themselves, meet celebs, and get unprecedented public exposure like Mr. Sato had gotten?

There wasn’t even a reply saying “no thanks.” It was just silence.  Perhaps everyone else had moved on since the iPhone X incident. “To hell with it,” thought Mr. Sato, “I’m not going to do this by myself.”

When the 17th rolled around, Mr. Sato sat in line in his kitchen to make a sandwich when he finally threw up his hands and said, “Fine! I’m going to do this by myself then!”

He gathered his line-waiting gear and headed to Ginza.

It was a warm night, but there was a chill in the air. Mr. Sato thought about the three nights that lay ahead. Without a support person, he couldn’t leave the line at all, which meant that he couldn’t do anything.

But worst of all, it was going to be very lonely…

He wandered around Ginza for a while and pondered whether what he was about to do was really worth it anymore. Lost in thought, he suddenly found himself in front of the Ginza SoftBank store when someone called out, “Mr. Sato!”

▼ “Mr. Sato…”

▼ Mr. Sato: “Seiji!!! You came.”

▼ Seiji: “I came to help you.”

Just then, another voice called out…

▼ “Bruuuuuuhhhhhh!!!”

It was Butch (a.k.a. Big Wave), a fellow professional iPhone line waiter whom Mr. Sato had befriended over the years.

▼ Mr. Sato: “Butch! What are you doing here?”

Butch: “Bro! This is my home. It’s SoftBank, yo!”

▼ Mr. Sato: “It sure is, Butch. This is where we’re meant to be.”

And so, Mr. Sato had his team to help ride out the next three nights. But more importantly, he had his friends, which is worth more than any iPhone…12-megapixel front-facing camera and all.

By the way, with the first night having already transpired, the crew held an impromptu livestream on YouTube, fielding viewer questions in English. It was a little last-minute, though, so there wasn’t a whole lot of people around to ask much, and Mr. Sato wandered off partway through in pursuit of something shiny.

However, they may try again over the next few nights, so keep an eye on our Facebook page for further updates.

What awaits this trio when the iPhone 11 is released on 20 September? Docomo had left him cold on the curb more than once in recent years, but this is Mr. Sato’s first try at a SoftBank line, and with it a whole new world of possibilities await.

Photos © SoraNews24
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