[Illustrations by ALEX FINE]
BY MAYA REDWOOD Are you a Mac or a PC? It seems that most folks feel they are one or the other. They either love Apple or they hate it. They believe that Steve Jobs was a god or the devil. Sides must be chosen. Last week when Steve (yes we are on a first name basis though we’ve never met) passed away I shed a few tears because I am NOT a Mac, nor a PC. I’m not a lover nor a hater nor even a believer.
I cried for the loss of a life and how sad and strange it is that this omnipresent man was gone forever. I cried because I felt connected to him as a human. And if a man like Steve Jobs could lose the battle to stay alive then who could possible win? In doesn’t matter if you’re a Mac, a PC, a side chooser, or a true believer. But I mostly cried because after five years of working at Apple I felt like I knew him personally and I felt that, like me, he wasn’t a Mac or a PC. He could never be defined by such a finite term. He was more than that. He was more than his own marketing campaign and more than what the public saw. He was complicated and undefinable. Just like you. Just like me. His energy had been limitless and his commitment to what he believed in inspirational. I felt inspired by his words during town hall meetings not because I wanted to become the world’s most powerful CEO but because I wanted to quit the rat race and do what I was passionate about. Just like Steve.
Like I said, I never met the man but I encountered him on a near daily basis. These encounters gave me a glimpse of him as a regular guy as well as the icon. It was hard not to feel some awe in his presence. His larger than life persona made Steve Jobs a household name but everyone in the office just called him Steve. When you said Steve, everyone knew who you were talking about. He attended many meetings and briefings without ever being in the room. His opinions, preferences, ideas, and plans were conveyed by simply saying his name and what he wanted. He was with us everyday.
Most actual sightings were in the company cafeteria, Caffe Mac. He ate lunch there everyday, just like most employees. I remember the first time I saw him, sitting at a table with one of the VPs. I got all giddy and said to my tablemates, “There he is! There he is! Don’t look.” Then I tried to play it cool and acted as if it was no big deal. Next was the time when there was a long delay at the sushi station. I got impatient and said quite loud to my friend, “Who the hell is holding up the sushi line?” He glared at me and whispered for me to shut-up. It was Steve and he was standing three feet away. He had placed a big order for him and Jony Ive. Holy shit! I quickly decided to eat something else.
There was also the morning of one of Steve’s famous keynote addresses. It was a smaller launch that was going to be presented to the press on campus. I was walking from Infinite Loop to the building I worked in and Steve drove past just 15 minutes before his keynote. I remember thinking: shouldn’t you be on stage or something? For a brief moment, our eyes met and he gave me a look that said “yeah, I know, I’m late, you caught me.” I love that encounter with Steve most of all. The look he gave me was the look you would get from anyone in that situation. It was human and honest. Moments later he would go on stage and give one of his flawless presentations. That’s because he wasn’t just anyone, he was Steve Jobs! It seems these days we all want to tell our Steve Jobs’ story and for most of us it will be just that: our story. And what that story is about all depends on what side you are on.