About 16 months ago, I moved from Los Angeles to my childhood home of Boston. I arrived with a free place to live but no job to speak of, and to be honest, I couldn't afford to stay unemployed for too long. I needed a short term job, a quick and steady paycheck while I searched for something better, so I applied to everything I could find. I soon found myself at a group hiring event at my local Apple Store. Please note the following: despite having worked the better part of a decade in the realm of computers and IT, I had never before worked retail and the only Apple products that I owned were two outdated iPods.
To make a long story short, I charmed the managers, did an entertaining impression of an old lady during a role playing exercise and ended up spending the next year working in the House That Jobs Built. Apple has always been somewhat of an oddity as a corporate entity, with its detractors often quick to compare the company and its employees to a cult, but I really couldn't disagree more. Apple was a fantastic company to work for. I rarely felt pressured to push seemingly unnecessary products on unsuspecting consumers and instead left each day feeling that I had really helped people, whether it be by finding them the right computer/iPad/iPod, or by teaching them how to solve some nagging technical problem. Despite being an almost lifelong "PC guy", I was accepted with open arms by my co-workers, and while there were a few odd ducks in the group, some have become great friends of mine. (One will even be DJing my wedding.)
Did I "drink the kool-aid"? Sort of. Yes, I now own an iPhone, an iPad and a Macbook Pro. But I still use a PC everyday and I'm still faster and more comfortable with Windows than I am with OS X. I consider myself both lucky and privileged to have been a member of the Apple family, even if it was only for a short time, and today I send out much love and respect to not only the Steve's wife and kids, but to Apple employees everywhere. On my way home today, I plan to stop by the Boylston St. Apple Store and spend a moment taking in the flowers and tokens left there by Steve's admirers.
And how could you not be an admirer of a man who gave people so much to be excited about? I have overwhelming respect for anyone who uses his passion and intellect to make an indelible mark on the world (without resorting to violence). I can only dream of what else we might have seen if his life had not been cut so short.
(Sidenote: I'm alarmed at how many people I saw via Facebook and Twitter who a) don't know who Steve Jobs is and b) think that Apple is going to somehow close up shop and stop making new devices without Steve. Are there really people out there who think that Steve invented the iPad and the iPhone all by himself? Like he's tinkering with a circuit board in a garage somewhere and everyone else at Apple has no idea how he does it? It's times like these, when I see such a widespread and fundamental lack of understanding about how the world actually works, that I mourn our educational system and fear for the future.)
To sum up: Stay hungry. Stay foolish. Think different. Cancer sucks.
We'll miss you Steve.