NEW YORK — The arrival of Apple's Inc.'s iPhone at stores Friday is now an official media event, certified by the appearance of the nation's unofficial man-on-the-street.
Greg Packer, 43, a retired highway maintenance worker and serial quote machine from Long Island, sat on a folding chair Tuesday at the head of the line outside New York's flagship Apple store on Fifth Avenue. He said he had been there, on the sidewalk outside Apple's distinctive glass-cube atrium, since around dawn the day before.
Packer has never met a microphone or notebook he didn't like, which is why he's usually standing at the head of any line where reporters are present. According to Packer's lengthy Wikipedia entry, he has been quoted more than 100 times in the news media -- including The Times -- as an ordinary citizen commenting on matters such as the death of Princess Diana and the appeal of Pope John Paul II to Jews.
He was first in line at the opening of the ground zero viewing platform in 2001 and first in the public line to greet President Bush in Washington after his 2001 inauguration.
Wearing a New York Yankees shirt and equipped with a small cooler containing bottles of water, Packer expects to be on hand and available to be quoted. Sales of the much-awaited Web-surfing and music-playing cellphone, which costs $499 and up, begin at 6 p.m. local time Friday.
Packer said that although he didn't own any other Apple devices, he intended to buy the iPhone. Then, adding to his quote total, he said: "It sounds really cool."