The time was 11:45pm. A line of people stretched around the corner from the suburban Best Buy in Fairfax, Virginia. Max Fine was number two on the line. Max Fine wore a fleece jacket covered by a beige raincoat. His jeans were new with an iron crease down the front. His Nike running shoes were uncomfortable because they had yet to be broken in. Max Fine was a career Secret Service agent, one of the best, and in the inner circle of agents that protected President George W. Bush. He was 43 years old, his 44th birthday just a few weeks away. Max was not married, never had been, no children, and was thankful for the lack of headaches family seems to bring others. But today, tonight that is, he felt like part of a big family, like one of the kids told to go out and run an errand. Afterall, that is exactly what he was doing.
The number one guy on the line outside of Best Buy looked like he was a college kid, long hair, face stubble, frayed baggy jeans, and Asian. The number three guy on the line also looked like a college kid, long hair, face stubble, frayed baggy jeans, and African American. Number four was a girl. Number five was an older woman, maybe 35, overweight with a crew cut, covered in a fuzzy pink coat with round pink buttons the size of silver dollars. Her skinny bare legs were a mismatch for her rotund upper body. There were of course numbers six, seven, eight…by number fifteen or so, the line turned the corner down the long stretch of the side of the large store that sat in the parking lot separate from the Fairfax Shopping Mall.
Max Fine had gotten to the Best Buy to get online at 6:00pm, as instructed by the President. President Bush said “Max, I want you to be the first in there to get me that thing.” Well, Max would not be the first. Max was number two. The Asian college kid was number one. Max would flash his credentials, but the President also said “Don’t let anyone know you’re buying this for me.” Max had no idea there would be a line. Max also was surprised to learn that Best Buy was to stay open until 1:00 AM just so it could be the first to sell Sony’s Playstation 3 at midnight when it legally was to go on sale. The President said “Dick doesn’t know about these things. There is lots of stuff to learn on Playstation. But Dick doesn’t understand that.” Max Fine was not certain why the President launched into a rant about Vice President Dick Cheney, but he suspected that the President had altered his view of “Dickie Bear,” as he was known in the Secret Service. The resignation of Rumsfeld seemed to change everything. The President chatted more with non-essential personnel now, such as Max was referred to though his job was to protect the life of the President, a task that any thinking person would deem essential. But today, or tonight that is, Max was doing what the Service used to call a “coffee run,” but was now called “doing a Starbucks.” Max was doing a Starbucks at Best Buy to get the new Playstation 3 plus a game. The President whispered it: “Resistance - Fall of Man.” Bush said it was supposed to have the best graphics and blow away anything on the Xbox. “Cheney and Rummie wouldn’t understand the usefulness of Resistance - Fall of Man, but the play action and the 3D graphics would give my administration the confidence to do the right thing in Iraq,” said Bush to Max Fine in the same whisper Bush had uttered the name of the game.
Max looked over at the Asian kid. “You ever hear of Resistance - Fall of Man?” asked Max.
“Yeah,” said the Asian kid.
“You buying it?” asked Max.
“Nope. Can’t afford it. Barely enough for the PS3,” said the Asian kid.
“Don’t buy it,” said the African-American kid to Max’s right.
“Oh, yeah. I heard it was good,” said Max.
“You heard wrong. All the idiots think it’s good. The game has no style, no grace. There’s no room for nuance,” said the African-American kid.
“I see,” said Max.
Everyone on the line started to come to attention. It was almost midnight. The end of one day, the beginning of another, the two days separated by a consumer marketing moment. Max thought of his job description. The last sentence of the description says “And anything else the President requests.”