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Charlie Hufnagel was first in line for the iPhone 5--for someone else.
It's iPhone 5 day, and Apple Stores around the country opened its doors an hour early to greet hoards of diehard Apple devotees with a new handset. It's a fairly exciting sight to see: people line up early in the morning -- some even camp out for days -- for the chance to be one of the first to get their hands on the device. Those who were queued downtown at the San Francisco Apple Store -- where I participated in the iPhone launch -- had lined up on a whim early in the morning without a pre-order to guarantee them a unit. The person at the very front of the line, however, wasn't there for his own iPhone, but to wait in line for someone else. And he was paid to do it.
Apple Store employees chat with Hufnagel about being first in line.
Charlie Hufnagel, the first body in line this morning for the iPhone, had been waiting for 94 hours. He pitched his tent at 10 a.m. the morning of September 17, and was promptly greeted by Apple Store employees and the manager, who officially designated him as the first person in line. "They've been really welcoming," said Hufnagel of the Apple Store employees. "I set up my tent, they set up this cord around me immediately, and the manager introduced himself…it's been really awesome."
Hufnagel nabbed the job of waiting in line on TaskRabbit, an online marketplace that allows users to outsource small jobs and tasks to those who are looking for a quick way to make money. Users with an account can post an advertisement for a task they need done, name the price they're willing to pay, and wait for pre-approved "TaskRabbits" to bid for the job. A TaskRabbit user posted a job for someone to stand in line for him at the Apple Store, and Hugnagel won the bid at $1500. That's enough to buy five 32GB iPhone 5s.
The user (seen here in the fleece) who had elected Hufnagel to wait in line showed up minutes before the doors opened.
Hufnagel goes upstairs to activate his new phone.
The user who had hired Hufnagel eventually showed up, with only minutes to spare before the glass doors of the store were open for business. He declined to give any interviews, or his name, and sped past the crowd as he walked out of the store with his newly purchased iPhone 5. Hufnagel stayed behind for his own unit, though. "The screen [on his iPhone 4] actually cracked while I was out here," he had said earlier. Fortunately, the Apple Store employees had given him a ticket so that he could purchase his own phone.