Poor, poor Ken. Not only did he NOT obtain his PlayStation 2, as he stated in his Friday column, but he had to explain all that he went through in order to fail in the end. Me, on the other hand, ended up on the ladder of success. Next to this computer monitor, sits my brand new PlayStation2 in all its glory.
Believe it or not, I wasn’t really looking forward to getting one in the first place. I’m sure everyone knows my love of Sega, its Dreamcast, and it’s godlike Internet gaming service. Also, with all the trouble I heard with Sony releasing only 500,000 PS2s, my hope of actually getting one was very slim.
However, last Monday, I received a phone call from a business partner back home way up in the Maryland hills in a little town called Frostburg. He already planned his way of obtaining a PS2 for himself so he could sell it on eBay for a profit. To this end, he had inventoried every store in the Western Maryland region.
Considering that Software Etc. had been backed up until March 2001, putting them out of the picture, and hearing about the limited number of systems being distributed to K-Mart and Sears for availability the next morning, I thought the only way to get a PS2 was to sit in a line outside for the entire night and get up at 10 in the morning – perhaps only to be shafted.
But what I heard made me think twice.
Apparently the LaVale Wal-Mart – another Western Maryland town – was putting 60 PlayStation2s up for sale. Even better, it would not be distributed first-come, first-served. There would be a random drawing to see who would walk away with a PS2, or who would end up empty-handed.
I figured that this would be my only chance, but still something inside me kept telling me I’d be unsuccessful. So as a consolation, I decided to pick up a copy of a version of Quake 3 Arena for the Dreamcast. Since the Dreamcast gamers all have 56k modems, I figured I could at least play without all the LPB (low-ping bastards) that plague the PCs.
I met up with my friends at Ruby Tuesdays to plan the entire caper. It was like planning the big job on Reservoir Dogs, or some other action packed movie. The six of us knew tickets were to be handed out at 11:45 that night, so we thought waiting there while drinking lots of malt beverages would be ok.
WRONG! It turns out when entering Wal-Mart, there was already a line of over 100 individuals, eager to obtain the winning ticket towards a new PlayStation2. When a head count was done, I found out that I was number 116, and the total population during the lottery was about 250, which meant I had about a one in four chance of walking away with a sleek black unit.
My ticket was picked up at 11:58 pm, and I noticed the last three digits "720." Those digits were etched into the back of my head for the entire night. It was all I could think about.
Finally, 12:15 finally arrived, and in the cold darkness the numbers started to come up. The first two called were in the low hundreds, and the third number was 131. I started yelling "CONSPIRACY!" thinking that all the 100s, most likely Wal-Mart employees, would end up winning them all. However, the next number nearly tore me out of my seat…it was 712!
A couple more numbers went by, but what happened next completely took me by surprised. It was all clear to me, as the number 720 was announced! I tried to keep calm, fearing a possible lynch mob as I headed back to the layaway counter. I high-fived my friends and made some crude remarks to everyone else as I headed back. Suckers!
I knew that the line to purchase PS2s that night was going to be long, and I didn’t have enough money at the time until my paycheck arrived the next morning, so I decided the best thing for me to do was lay it away overnight. Putting $100 down, I had my new box put away for me to pick up first thing next morning.
Not only that, but it turns out that two of my friends were also big winners, but they picked up their PS2s that same night. In addition, they ended up buying a huge lot of the new 8MB memory cards as well, eventually selling one off to me. Not only did they have to wait a long time to get it paid off, but I thought an angry mob would lynch them and steal their boxes. Fortunately I was wrong.
Afterwards I decided to head home, a feeling of victory swarming around me. The night however was torturous, as I couldn’t sleep until about 4am. It only made sense that I woke up at 7:30 the next morning. So without thinking, I called my bank, realized my paycheck was deposited, and took my car to Wal-Mart as fast as those four cylinders would take me.
Upon picking up my PS2, I talked with the Manager. She told me the whole ordeal went pretty smoothly, except for one woman who complained the whole drawing was rigged. Boo-hoo, was all I thought, but I knew there would have to be someone who would complain about it.
PlayStation2 in trunk, I drove over to the mall just to laugh at anyone who camped outside. Hey, driving by screaming "I got one!" turned out to be great fun.
I ended up finding some of my friends there as well, but not camped out. They had already picked up a fourth PlayStation 2 at K-Mart, one of only 5 that were sent to that store. Afterwards we headed back to Wal-Mart so I could get some titles for my new blue box. I ended up buying SSX Snowboarding, and later in the day, headed to Software Etc. and traded a few old Dreamcast titles for Tekken Tag Tournament. I even had the balls to call them and ask if they had any PlayStation2s available, although I knew they were all backordered until March.
Who would have thought of it. I, a dedicated Sega purist, ended up with my own PlayStation 2. I will admit though that this was pure luck, and obviously a little luck goes a long way. Ken, maybe you’d better take my advice on this one! Drop the sweet-talking and take a number. Oh yea, I’ll be the one driving by your house screaming, "I got one!"