8 Ways to Survive Apple’s New iPad Launch (if You’re Standing in Line)

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Carlos Barria / Reuters

Customers wait in line before the initial sales of the new iPhone 4S at Apple's retail store in downtown Shanghai January 13, 2012.

Missed the window to order a new iPad online? Planning to stand in line for one this Friday? My heart goes out to you. Demand for Apple’s new high-definition iPad appears to be as high as it’s ever been. The iPad’s sold out everywhere online, and Apple’s saying you’ll have to wait “2-3 weeks” if you order through its online store now. Your best bet to get one, if you’re determined to pick one up at launch, is going to be braving one of the notorious Apple Store lines.

Hey, they’ve served food and drinks (ice cream even) in the past, so…ingratiating as it sounds (and probably is), if Apple follows suit and pampers new iPad line-goers, there’s that as a silver lining. Whether you get ice cream or end up watching folks in the food court spooning it up from a distance, here’s a quick list of necessary to-dos if you’re planning your very own Apple Store adventure tomorrow.

(MORE: Apple Left Siri Off the New iPad Because Siri’s Not Ready for It)

Get there early. I’ll go out on what’s probably a redwood-sized limb here and predict all but the most expensive model iPads are going to sell out at retail, day one. I’d also wager you’re going to be up against stiff competition, line-length-wise. So here’s the most crucial step: Check with your local store(s) and find out when they’re opening. If they’re inside a mall, make sure you know when it’s opening, too. How early should you get there? If we’re talking a closed mall, there really can’t be a line until the mall itself opens and lets people dash for firsties at the retail front. If we’re talking standalone store, rain or shine, you’ll want to be there earlier in the morning still. If the store’s nearby, I’d do a late evening drive-by, and if there’s already a line, well…how bad do you really want one of these things again?

Don’t try to be first in line. No one cares. You don’t get a trophy, Apple CEO Tim Cook won’t magically appear to sign your iPad and the press (probably) won’t take your picture for a story titled “Apple’s Biggest Fan Scores Pole Position!”

Bring something to do. Like your smartphone (if you have one) and some games. Or a book. Or a laptop (aka “pre-tablet computer”). Or a pack of cards (aka “old-school social networking”).

Ignorance is bliss. I mean ignorance of any razzing passerby, of course, who’ll probably just gawk at your little anticipatory tech-train, but occasionally chuckle snidely, or tap their friend(s) while doing so and pointing. Worst case scenario, you have to endure the slings and arrows of someone yelling the occasional “Get a life!” as they pass by, snapping pictures with their phones to deploy to a Twitter account.

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Haven’t you heard — it’s practically summer out there! (After a winter that could’ve passed for spring.) Wherever you’re at in the U.S., if you’re camping overnight, keep plenty of liquids on hand to replenish moisture lost through all that hyper-anticipatory perspiration, though this has a potentially deadly corollary: Pal up with someone else (in line or out) who’ll hold your spot when nature rings! Also: Bring snacks, ideally in a bag of some sort, so you can throw away your mess when you’re done without stepping out of line.

Strike up a conversation. Only if the person next to you seems receptive, of course, but this is your chance to talk Apple stuff with fellow Apple-ites. Like: Do they already have an iPad? How about a Mac? Is it pronounced oh-ess-ten or oh-ess-ex? What’s their personal “top 10″ app list? And do they really have a bobble-head Tim Cook?

Don’t be unpleasant. It goes without saying, right? Just don’t. Not unless the person next to you hasn’t bathed for a week and insists on standing inside your personal space, or decides to spontaneously break into song just as you’re drifting off for a catnap.

Don’t bring an actual tent. I know, it’s called “camping,” but even if it’s raining, an umbrella should do. A tent just makes you look like one of those people. After all, you’re waiting in line for a tablet, not heading into the Australian Outback.

MORE: 7 Reasons Apple’s New iPad Could Replace Your Games Console

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