Today in Human Achievement, iPhones: A Fight Breaks Out at the Apple Store

What hath the gold phone wrought?
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Step aside, Black Friday Walmart Tramplings. We have a new thing to summon our national pride. And that thing involves, unsurprisingly, a golden iPhone.

This morning, at Apple retail store on West Colorado Boulevard in Pasadena, the iPhone Purchase Day rituals were proceeding apace: camping, coffee, jokes about Android products, more camping, more coffee. Some 200 people had lined up to have, as the Los Angeles Times puts it, "the opportunity to purchase a new iPhone 5s and 5c." As is also common for these launches, a section of the line-waiters were not waiting to buy phones; they were waiting to receive tickets for phones that they would exchange for money.  (The store limits two tickets per line-waiter.) In this case, man had assembled a group of Pasadena's homeless residents to do that work. He would pay them $40, he said, to camp out in the line, overnight. He would pay them $20 for each ticket they got. He would then, ostensibly, sell the phones elsewhere for a handy profit. 

Here's what seems to have happened: At 9 a.m., the man entered the Apple Store and got his two phones. And then he tried to leave the premises, without paying the people he'd promise to compensate for their line-waiting. This angered one of the men who'd been waiting in the line. The two proceeded to argue, verbally. And then to fight, physically. 

As Apple's iconic logo gazed upon them, they wrestled and tussled and otherwise came to blows. It was ... sad. Profoundly sad. 

Police officers, hired by the store to keep control of the crowd, broke up the fight. And they ended up arresting the two men who were, yes, still engaged in their bout. Which wouldn't stop another fight from breaking out later on, this time between two women. 

In other words: Happy iPhone Release Day, everyone! It's a proud day for Apple. And a proud day for us all.

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Megan Garber is a staff writer at The Atlantic. She was formerly an assistant editor at the Nieman Journalism Lab, where she wrote about innovations in the media.

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