The overtly dramatic result of waiting needlessly at midnight for Grand Theft Auto 5.

The crowd was a rowdy one. Ripe with anticipation, the ires of midnight sleeplessness and a mild desire to see the world burn overtook these night crusaders. A slight wind shook the doors and they all leapt excitedly, ready to plunge into the criminal-infested world of Los Santos. Yes, this was a midnight launch for one of the biggest games in history: Grand Theft Auto 5.

I had had a tired day. Class came and went at obscene hours, the regular Tuesday. It had been a triumphant day: No lineup at the coffee shop, no wailing babies on the bus, no homework. The only thing to grimace about was that mired tiredness, but I stayed true to my ultimate goal: Stay awake.

As I walked wearily through the night, I could see giddy go-getters pass in vehicles. They glared leeringly at the road like a deer in headlights (to use a cliche). At that point, I knew it was a day to remember. One onlooker had the hunter-gatherer look: a disheveled beard, pit stains, the faintest disregard for his humanity. Another carried a brooding defiance; that he alone would dominate Los Santos’ messy crime world.

The GameStop seems unprepared. A stack of GTA 5 billboards laid outside, folded neatly in a column. The store manager, with a look of a Machiavellian villain, ordered his employees around angrily. One worker glanced up at me in despair, the will sucked away slowly from his zombified face. He had been there for hours, apparently, plugging away for one of the biggest launches in game history.

I imagined what his day had been like up to that fateful midnight. Stressed, encumbered, panicked. He, somehow, possessed the steely fortitude to continue marching. Even as he wasn’t remotely interested in Grand Theft Auto 5, or so it appeared. But I imagine that’s also an employee concern: to handle hundreds of copies whilst resisting the urge to snag one. It would be tempting albeit highly illegal. One of the tantalizing misfortunes of a game store employee’s job choice.

The doors gracefully slid open. The manager beckoned the group of manic, hyperventilating fans. Some were asleep but heard the bustling of footsteps. One guy, drooling through the side of his mouth, lazily jumped off the footrest after his friend screamed. “It was time!” he shouted valiantly, like a warcry. All he missed was the patriotic flag.

Squeaking sneakers flooded the halls. On a moment’s notice, we coalesced from a scattered group into a riotous mob, on a mad rush to attack the store doors. We had to be first. A larger gentleman tripped and slammed his head against the door, while another one scratched a competitor’s arm so hard he bled. It was a vigorous atmosphere.

You can smell the bloodthirstiness. It was dripping head-to-toe from everyone; except myself, of course, playing observer. The mob eventually formed a crooked line and rounded the counter corner. They had all expounded the sweat and tears to arrive at this precipice of human existence: waiting in a reluctant line at midnight only to spend money and travel again, do a mandatory 8GB install, make a snack frustratingly to pass time, update, update some more (if on PS3), go through multiple loading screens, and then pass out due to exhaustion.

I was fifth in line. Four paces ahead, the man in first lit up like a Christmas tree. He was glistening with glee: a confident smile, heavy brow, slightly flamboyant tang. Like an actor starring in his first Broadway role. He was the epitome of happiness. As to not make the line more dispiriting, he only subtly celebrated. I relish that thought: The first person in my town to hold a purchased copy of Grand Theft Auto 5 had a sense of decency.

The second, a woman, short in stature but classily dressed, showed no emotion. She was stoic, statesmanly. Fearless, too, unabashedly confessing her admiration to a room full of men. As the manager handed her a copy, she carved a path between us male monstrosities and walked out. Like a soldier prepping for battle.

Third and fourth went their way as I reached the counter. The GameStop clerk had a twinkle in his eye. A touch of tiredness, maybe, like the rest of us, gathered in this heroic cavalcade. I had my receipt in-hand, expiring with excitement, as the clerk handed me a copy. It glowed as the lineup stared in amazement, jealous or full of some other rapacious emotion, while I perused the thought of skipping out of the store. I cut my losses short as to not embarrass myself, and walked out calmly.

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  • Canadians are just weird

    Isn’t a Canadian riotous mob an oxymoron?

    • JeffHeilig

      Not when dozens of ravenous people want something badly. This is Grand Theft Auto 5, you forget.

      • Canadians are odd too

        It’s still Canadia.

        • JeffHeilig

          You wound me nameless reader of my site.

        • Greg Smith

          At least we don’t all own guns and give them to our kids.

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