Last Wednesday, Steve Jobs announced he was resigning as CEO of Apple.
The whole world, of course, knows that Steve Jobs has been ill, so it’s no surprise that he resigned, but it’s still a shock.
I’ve always used Macs, and I am such a frequenter of the Apple store that they know me.
Several years ago, I had an encounter with the man himself. I (fortunately) didn’t know it until it was too late. Here is the story of that meeting.
10 December 2002, 10:14 ayem
What happened was this…
I have been in the Apple store so much lately that, naturally, I’ve made friends with the entire staff. Well, that, and walking in and telling them I want to leave with $6000 worth of computer stuff makes me pretty lovable. So I went in and one of my regular guys was talking to some man on a stool who had a clipboard.
I asked the regular guy if he was taking notes, and he said, “well, no, but he is.”
I looked at the note-taker and said, “what kind of notes are you taking?” He said he was stopping people who were leaving empty-handed and asking them why they weren’t buying anything.
Then he asked if I ever left empty-handed. Oh, sure, I said, sometimes I’m just on a fact-finding mission, because I have to have all answers before questions start getting asked. And sometimes I just stop in to check my email.
My salesguy, Daniel, came back to ask me something, and then he went whence he came (to the mythical “back”). So I turned around and picked up my conversation with the guy and he asked how I liked shopping there. “I love shopping here. I would MARRY the guys who work here, just for being so damn patient and cute.” And I proceeded to tell him that I had been in there Just Last Night to buy a cable, and that I had been on the phone when I walked in, trying to get my mother on “the dubyadubyadubya.”
I proceeded to tell him, in excruciating detail with voices and gestures and everything, about the conversation, and how the guys were all kinda listening to my answers and guessing the questions I was being asked. He wanted to know what she had asked and I said, “well, it started about a month ago with, ‘now, how will I know my email address?’ and how I tried to explain that she would just tell them one, and she couldn’t understand where I was saying she should get it.
By this time he was guffawing and wheezing. Tears were running down his face. He said, “yeah, Mom, they’re assigned at birth. Didn’t grandma give you yours?”
I thought he was going to pass out.
Then I told him about telling her to open the drive. Of course it’s not labeled “drive.” It’s labeled “Macintosh HD,” which you wouldn’t probably associate as the same thing either. I told her to go to the upper right hand corner of the screen and double click on it and it would open. She kept telling me no, it wouldn’t, all it did was tell her the time.
I asked what was below it and she said, “Macintosh HD, whatever that is.”
Once she got into Macintosh HD, I had her open other things and replace my information with hers. When it got to the field for the password, I asked if she knew it. “Well, of course I know it.” I heard her tapping away and she didn’t say anything else.
Finally she said, “I’m not going to tell you what it is. It’s secret.” I am still trying to figure out under what circumstances I’d check her email.
Then Daniel came back with my cable and asked if I needed anything else. I said, “Oh, no, but I prolly will tomorrow.”
I paid for the cable and as I was leaving, I said, “see you tomorrow, survey guy. have a nice evening.”
On the way back to the office, I was trying to figure out why he looked so familiar and when I got back, I realized it was Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple. It was confirmed for me Friday when Macworld came and there he was, the man I’d been talking to, looking at me from page 61.
I, of course, am mortified. I was ON. I was really on. The sales staff had come to a complete stop and were just watching the whole thing unfold. I was all but tapdancing while delivering my comedy routine. Thank the lloyd I was wearing my lipstick.
I maintain I would have recognized him if he’d been wearing his standard black mock turtleneck and jeans and running shoes, but he wasn’t. He was wearing a striped oxford and khakis and loafers. I bet he had to borrow that get-up from somebody.
Even crazier was that I was wearing jeans and a black mock turtleneck and running shoes, it being winter.
Of all the famous people I’ve managed to have long conversations with, I put him right at the top of the genius list. I would give just about anything to be able to talk to him in person again and tell him how much I appreciate how he has changed the way the world goes around. I hope that however much time he has left is just glorious.
Susan, only you would manage to deliver a performance like that to a person like that without the whole thing being on purpose.
I’m sure he adored being called survey guy.
He didn’t seem too bummed about it.
I’m tickled he didn’t call security.
I LOVE this ! What a wonderful anecdote. I’m glad you wrote it down for posterity’s sake because I don’t think Mr Jobs will live out the year. Not many CEOs would do what he did with you…shows me how in touch he was with his customer. Thank you for sharing.
I don’t really know anything about his personal life, but I think he is a great, great man, and that impromptu meeting was one of the best moments of my life. He was smart and funny and nice – he would have been great to have dinner with.
I’ll bet he appreciated having a conversation unvarnished by his celebrity. More’s the treat that it was you in your story-telling mode.
Well, thank you, Jillian. I appreciate that.
Great story Susan, I’m going to send this to Arnie to read to.
I’m very sad for Steve Jobs and I can’t believe he will prob be gone soon, makes me cry able sad thinking about it
I haven’t been this sad since Charles M. Schulz announced he had colon cancer. I couldn’t imagine the world without him, either.
Who knows… he may go ’round tellin’ the story of your story!
Lord. I imagine he’d forgotten about that by the time he got on the plane back to California.
Oh, I suspect you have an Impact on people, even the big important ones, when you meet them. I hope it’s a story that makes him grin. Survey guy! Have you ever asked your regular guys about it after the fact?
Well, thank you!
And no, I was too embarrassed to go back in there for weeks.
A most excellent story. 🙂
I would have loved to have seen that! And I bet he enjoyed just being the survey guy for a bit, too.
It was quite the little exposition. And he has a great laugh.
Love, love, love this story!
p.s. I shared it with my friend Doug Hamilton (former AJC staffer, btw)