My Steve Jobs Encounter

October 16, 2011 § Leave a comment

Having seen so many great stories about people’s in-person encounters with Steve Jobs, I thought I’d share my own small tale. The scene outside the 5th Ave Apple Store the other day (pictured here) reminded me of it.

Years ago I spent two terms at Stanford as an “exchange scholar,” visiting from my normal perch at Columbia U and living in Palo Alto.  One weekend I was on my way to the local Apple Store, and saw Steve and his son sitting at one of several outdoor tables for a restaurant just down University Ave.  His son was in a team uniform (soccer, I assumed) and cleats, and they were munching on sandwiches.  It reminded me of the soccer game days I enjoyed as a boy with my father, and I thought it was cool to see one of my longtime heroes in suburban dad mode.

Anyway, I walked past them, down University, and into the Apple Store.  An employee greeted me, and I asked if he knew that Steve Jobs was just down the block.  He rolled his eyes in fake exasperation and said, “He comes in here all the time.”  Given Steve’s fearsome reputation for employee-obliterating perfectionism, and the fact that he lives in the neighborhood, the Palo Alto branch was a natural candidate for world’s most high-anxiety Apple Store.  Spot-check!  I asked the staffer how bad it was. Laughing, he said, “He’s actually pretty cool about it.  He usually walks back and forth in front of the store for a while, until we’ve seen him and had a minute to spread the word.  He doesn’t want us to worry about him.”

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