Thursday, October 6, 2011

Just One More Thing: For Steve Jobs

The lawn was trampled to mud on a rainy day when the skies appropriately opened up and poured forth unseasonal rain throughout the Bay Area; people were taking pictures with their iPhones, speaking quietly, some crying, visually moved by the death of a brilliant innovator who meant so many things to so many.

I visited 1 Infinite Loop today to see the shrine gathering there for Steve Jobs, Flowers, candles, pumpkins with writing, pictures, boxes of iPads and iPhones, free organic apples that are in the cafeteria every day for employees to take from large galvanized buckets to place on trays along with their lunch or dinner.  The memorial included many Apples with a bite removed, all of us Eve in search of knowledge. 

I work at Apple as a long-term contractor in a group that earlier in the week was getting ready for the launch of the latest “black box” project. Vaguely, like many I assumed it was about introducing the iPhone 5 to the world. The media decried the substitution of a more powerful iPhone 4S for the really big announcement. Nice phone, but so what?

The next day I was notified by my group not to drive down to Cupertino from Oakland because the area was swarming with police officers and SWAT team members who were hunting Shareef Allman. Allman had gone on a rampage following a safety meeting at a local quarry, and had killed three people and wounded six, a single father whom all his neighbors and friends said hated violence and produced a local cable show about conflict resolution.

Fast forward to the afternoon when I received the email from the manager of our group, “This is a sad day for Apple…”

I fell back down on my couch. It was a moment in my life similar to the time when I saw scribbled on a blackboard, “President Kennedy has been shot.” While everyone knew that Steve was seriously ill and  had stepped down as CEO in August, the news hit me in the gut.

This is was a person of my generation, someone whom I as far as I could tell, had helped to shape the idealism and revolutionary spirit of the sixties with his own sense of purpose. I saw so many who had worked toward peace and justice in the civil rights and anti-war movement, sign on to a new cause that offered communication and a collective ethic as opposed to the stultifying hierarchy that had held this country in a top-down grip. This was “counter-culture.”

Jobs understood that creativity comes from people working together. He helped to foster that environment.

It took me years to be able to work at Apple.  Thank you, Steve.  For everything.

1 comment:

Elaine said...

Beautifully written tribute...well done!