(Clicking on any of these pictures take you to a larger version.)
11:05 I'm at the PUB and getting in line. The line to get in has curled around the piano foyer. I'm standing at the bottom of the stairs.
11:10 The line seems to be mostly students with alumni interspersed. The bookstore windows are blocked off with large sheets of butcher paper, but I can see red and white Mylar balloons inside.
I text my friend, "Line goes up to landing!" I don't expect a response. She's been inside all morning, preparing for the big day with the other staff.
Fifty minutes to go. I count 58 people between the elevator and the stairs.
11:20 The line is almost to the second floor. A KHQ news camera shows up from the front of the line, filming us.
All these people have one thing in common. They are willing to wait for an extended period of time to buy a t-shirt.
I text my mom. I'm bored. I can't help it.
11:25 The line extends past the second stair to the top floor. Troy Kirby comes down the line, passing out his card to folks that he believes aren't students. Now is the time to get the deal on season tickets for next year. Thankfully, he passes me over--probably assuming that I'm a student-- even though I am a student and a parent.
Behind me in line, John Bigley, parent of senior Jessica Bigley, waits in line with his eagles cap. Apparently, I've missed the announcement that EWU will give customers 20 percent off for wearing their eagle gear today. We get to talking about the game and the publicity. "National champions and no one in the state recognizes them," he says. He emailed Joe Biden's office after the game. "'Thanks for the chicken dinner!' I never did hear back from them, of course," he says.
11:35 Mike Lemelin walks past. He says the line might go around the corner upstairs, but it's not outside.
11:40 People crowd into the foyer. The spirit picks up. We've almost gone the distance.
11:50 A band shows up and starts setting up. I recognize Garrett Stannard from church. "What are you guys doing?"
"We're going to play something boring," he says.
I know, ask a stupid question, get a stupid answer.
11:53 The butcher paper is down.
11:55 "We Are the Champions" wafts through the crowd, played on an electric guitar. A woman walks through the crowd, handing out the words, but no one is singing. We're hooting and hollering and excited, but this isn't karaoke.
The game is replaying on a TV inside the bookstore. Bigley tells me that it's playing on the Baldy's TVs upstairs too.
12:00 Swoop comes out and mingles. The school spirit in the room is unmistakable. Students are calling to each other across the room, everyone but me is wearing red.
John Bigley, Swoop, Jessica Bigley
The doors are open, we head for the merchandise.
"This is like Black Friday all over again," a girl has appeared from nowhere and is now front of me. She's right. I think we're safe as long as it doesn't turn into something like a bridal sale.When I get inside, I can't tell where anything is. Everyone has made a dash to my right, so I ask an employee. She says the shirts are everywhere.
They weren't. I grab a couple sweatshirts in the right size and push into the crowd. The mass of humanity next to the shirts is several people deep and they're grabbing stacks of shirts. I cling to my sweatshirts and make a complete circle around the cash registers.
Will I ever get to the t-shirts? What if I don't like the styles?
Some girls near me hold up their black shirts.
The sweatshirts in my arms are looking better in every moment.
There's no way I'll win against this crowd.
In line, a checker waves me over. "Considering it's you," says my friend behind the counter, "I'm going to slow down and rest a minute." If she was resting, I'd hate to see her at full speed.
I bump into alumni Michelle Best. This is her second trip to the bookstore today. She first came to the store at 7:30, unaware that there was a delayed opening. We walk out of the mayhem and into the warm January air. Prizes in hand, we talk of kids and plans for the weekend.
We don't compare purchases, but when I get my prize home, I know I've made the right choice.