If you're anything like me, you ordered the iPhone 5 as soon as you could last week, just minutes after midnight PT as the Apple Store went live for pre-orders. And if you did happen to get in on that early pre-order frenzy, we've got good news: Your iPhone 5 has started the trip on the slow boat from China. As you can see above, the iPhone 5 shipments have headed out from Zheng Zhou, and are presumably on their way to America, where they'll then be distributed out to all of the various customers.
There's been some confusion among TUAW readers about whether the iPhone 5 will be "shipping" on Friday, September 21, or whether it's set to arrive on September 21. I presume, having worked at a UPS store during high school, that it depends on where you are. Some deliveries will undoubtedly arrive right away on Friday morning, while others may take longer than expected. Delivering all of these iPhones is obviously a huge task, and it's unlikely that it will go smoothly for everyone.
The good news is that, as long as your preorder went through before that initial shipment was sold out, you should get your phone before too long. Patience, you should remember, is a virtue.