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Steve Jobs described as 'real person' in recount of chance meeting

post #1 of 45
Thread Starter 
A query posed on popular question-and-answer website Quora revealed an interesting tale of one man's brush with the late Steve Jobs, offering a rare glimpse into the secretive tech mogul's routine private life.

Steve Jobs


First spotted by Business Insider, the story comes from Tim Smith, Principal at Applied Design Group, who responded to the active Quora question: "What are the best stories about people randomly meeting Steve Jobs?"

Smith wrote that he would pass by Jobs' house in Palo Alto when visiting his girlfriend, whose father lived nearby, and would from time to time see the tech mogul working late into the night on his Mac.

One afternoon, his old Sunbeam Alpine, a British sports car not known for its reliability, broke down directly across from Jobs' driveway.

"Their cars weren?t there, which was a relief to me, because I was sure they would consider me some weird stalker," Smith wrote. "So I got out, popped the hood and tried to quick-fix the electrical to at least move further away ? and call AAA."

The problem turned out to be more complicated than a quick fix, and while Smith was tinkering with the electrical system, the Jobs family pulled up into the drive. Trying his best to go unnoticed, difficult since the Sunbeam was the only car on the street, Smith decided to pack it in and call AAA from his girlfriend's home.

As he started toward the house, he heard, ?British or Italian?? It was Laurene Powell Jobs, Steve Jobs' wife.

?British,? Smith replied, ?and acting like it.?

Powell Jobs asked if Smith wanted a beer, which he tried to decline, but was brought one anyway. She then called a family friend, who happened to know about Sunbeams, to come over and see if they could help.

Laurene Powell Jobs
Laurene Powell Jobs attending the 2012 State of the Union address as an honored guest. | Source: WhiteHouse.gov


"By this point I am fully resigned to whatever story is going to play out," Smith said. "It was starting to dawn on me that these were not just Silicon Valley elite ? they were real people, just helping a poor guy out."

The friend turned up wearing tuxedo with wife in tow, who was likewise "dressed to the nines." At this point Jobs himself came out to lend a hand and tried to crank the car as his friend worked under the hood. The Sunbeam was dead.

Declaring it a "piece of [expletive]" or some variation on the phrase, Jobs returned to his house. Smith was invited in to call AAA by Powell Jobs, so he followed her, "stepping over the dirty laundry you find in everyone's real house."

Steve Jobs tribute outside home
Flowers and Apples left outside Steve Jobs' home in Palo Alto after his death. Credit: Peter DaSilva/The New York Times


"You don?t often get close to people like the Jobs, much less in a ridiculous situation like this, where you realize that they are just really good people," he wrote. "They?re normal, funny, charitable, real people."

A week later, Smith returned the favor by dropping off a six-pack of beer, leaving it at the Jobs' door.

He said meeting Jobs and his family in that odd situation was one of his fondest memories.

"I saw [Jobs] in his most personal element ? family and friends ? around a broken down car in Palo Alto one night, just by chance. I was lucky ? and I was delighted," Smith wrote.
post #2 of 45
Thank heavens, there was me thinking he was a robot.
post #3 of 45

What I would've done to meet this man...

It's just impossible to describe.

 

 


Tim Cook using Galaxy Tabs as frisbees

 

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Tim Cook using Galaxy Tabs as frisbees

 

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post #4 of 45
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post
"You don't often get close to people like the Jobs, much less in a ridiculous situation like this, where you realize that they are just really good people," he wrote. "They're normal, funny, charitable, real people."

 

"This is obviously a lie. Jobs hated charity."

post #5 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Declaring it a "piece of [expletive]" or some variation on the phrase, Jobs returned to his house. Smith was invited in to call AAA, and was surprised to see laundry strewn about like just as it would in any other "normal" person's home.
 

 

Except it was all Levi's and black mock-turtle necks. lol.gif

post #6 of 45
I would attach a card with my name and phone number, saying thank you from a poor guy. Steve might call back...another story...then changed my life after Steve knew more about me...
post #7 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post
"You don't often get close to people like the Jobs, much less in a ridiculous situation like this, where you realize that they are just really good people," he wrote. "They're normal, funny, charitable, real people."

 

"This is obviously a lie. Jobs hated charity."

I agree the story has a few questionable scenes, however, I don't recall reading any statement that Jobs hated charity, he just wasn't known to contribute to organized charitable causes. Being charitable doesn't always mean donating money. Just lending a helping hand is charitable. But Laurene, on the other, hand is very involved in social programs.

 

Perhaps I'm unusual but I have never had any desire to meet anyone just because they are famous.


Edited by mstone - 11/10/12 at 4:39pm

Life is too short to drink bad coffee.

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Life is too short to drink bad coffee.

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post #8 of 45
Originally Posted by mstone View Post
I agree the story has a few questionable scenes…

 

Oh, which? That's not what I was saying (hence quotes).

 

And I just fixed the question marks, the bot put them back. Guess it wants to be broken.

post #9 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

Originally Posted by mstone View Post
I agree the story has a few questionable scenes…

 

Oh, which? That's not what I was saying (hence quotes).

Just the timing. She asks which country the car is from and .....want a beer. Seems to be something missing....No but was brought one anyway....She doesn't know  what kind of car it is but has a friend in a tux who is an expert in Sunbeams... odd. And when was this? Doesn't anyone have a cell phone? Some peculiar story telling with a few missing pieces is all.

Life is too short to drink bad coffee.

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Life is too short to drink bad coffee.

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post #10 of 45
Originally Posted by mstone View Post
Just the timing. She asks which country the car is from and .....want a beer. Seems to be something missing....No but was brought one anyway....She doesn't know  what kind of car it is but has a friend in a tux who is an expert in Sunbeams... odd. And when was this? Doesn't anyone have a cell phone? Some peculiar story telling with a few missing pieces is all.

 

Oh, yeah. Hmm.


Well, could have been as early as the mid '90s.

post #11 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post

Just the timing. She asks which country the car is from and .....want a beer. Seems to be something missing....No but was brought one anyway....She doesn't know  what kind of car it is but has a friend in a tux who is an expert in Sunbeams... odd. And when was this? Doesn't anyone have a cell phone? Some peculiar story telling with a few missing pieces is all.

Agree. Sounds like there is a little bit of breathless embellishment. Understandable, however.
post #12 of 45
Steve should have called Woz over. He would have done a Back to the Future DeLorean job on the old Sunbeam.
post #13 of 45
Originally Posted by paxman View Post
Steve should have called Woz over. He would have done a Back to the Future DeLorean job on the old Sunbeam.

 

"When this baby gets up to 88 miles per hour… you're gonna hear some serious Polish jokes."

post #14 of 45
Whatever.
Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of the rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of the rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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post #15 of 45
I remember fondly the time I got an email back from Steve telling me I was wrong. I'd said that using Mother Theresa's image on their home page on the days after she died was tasteless and something she would have detested -- having her image and her death used to puff up a computer company and garner attention.

"Your wrong on this" was how the email reply began. He went on to say she'd agreed to be part of their Think Different campaign.

I wish I'd kept the email, but I was just a young guy -- didn't realize at the time it would be worth keeping. I didn't write back, either.

Still, what confidence. You're wrong. I've known only two or three people in my whole life who could utter such a phrase unashamedly while fully and completely believing it. Not sure I agreed, but I was put in my place and very clearly felt it.
post #16 of 45
Perhaps all of us need a life and get away from the computer otherwise we will all end up psycho case. s/s
post #17 of 45

Laurene Powell Jobs saw a car, and knowing it was a foreign little number, asked whether it was Italian or British (the only two countries who know how to make unreliable cars). Once she got her answer, she knew who to call. No big deal.

post #18 of 45
Know what happens if your car breaks down in front of Bill Gates' 66000 sq ft (Apple-free) mansion?

"Release the hounds."

"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
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"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
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post #19 of 45
Meat story sounds like it was neat, a weird and rare way to meet someone.
post #20 of 45
Originally Posted by Curtis Hannah View Post
Meat story sounds like it was neat, a weird and rare way to meet someone.

 

1000

post #21 of 45
One thing I found interesting in this story (not the version on this site) but when beer entered the picture, the writer mentioned that Steve had one as well.

I was under the impression that he was strict vegetarian, he and his wife even going so far as to prepare a vegetarian-only meal for President Obama when he stayed for dinner at Steve's house on one occasion.

If anybody's ever curious as to how a strict vegetarian can die from cancer, then maybe alcohol and sushi could be the answer...
Edited by GTR - 11/11/12 at 3:41am
Android: pitting every phone company in the world against one, getting a higher number, and considering it a major achievement.
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Android: pitting every phone company in the world against one, getting a higher number, and considering it a major achievement.
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post #22 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by GTR View Post

One thing I found interesting in this story (not the version on this site) but when beer entered the picture, the writer mentioned that Steve had one as well.

I was under the impression that he was strict vegetarian, he and his wife even going so far as to prepare a vegetarian-only meal for President Obama when he stayed for dinner at Steve's house on one occassion.

If anybody's ever curious as to how a strict vegetarian can die from cancer, then maybe alcohol and sushi could be the answer...

It was meat-free beer.
post #23 of 45
Originally Posted by GTR View Post
…then maybe alcohol and sushi could be the answer…

 

Are these tied to cancer?

post #24 of 45
Real Money. The Best Kind.
post #25 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

"When this baby gets up to 88 miles per hour… you're gonna hear some serious Polish jokes."


Lol....love it!
post #26 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

 

"This is obviously a lie. Jobs hated charity."

Jobs was a buddhist. In buddhism the giving of money is not encouraged as it can lead to greed. Give a man what he needs, not encourage his greed. To lend someone advice or a hand, or even a beer isn't wrong. Steve didn't believe in giving people money as it enables their need for more. Hate isn't part of buddhist practice either. Calling someone a liar, and another hateful on a blog isn't the bravest thing to do. Would you say it to their faces?

post #27 of 45
All the surprise on this guy's part that they were just normal people with laundry. Really, why on earth wouldn't they be? People are people, whether famous and wealthy or not. What did he expect? That they dump golden turds or something! Celebrity is an illusion.
Edited by 1983 - 11/11/12 at 12:18am
post #28 of 45
Originally Posted by Kr00 View Post
Calling someone a liar, and another hateful on a blog isn't the bravest thing to do. Would you say it to their faces?

 

I certainly believe they'd try.

post #29 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by 1983 View Post

All the surprise on this guy's part that they were just normal people with laundry. Really, why on earth wouldn't they be? People are people, whether famous and wealthy or not. What did he expect? That they dump golden turds or something! Celebrity is an illusion.

 

There are very few people at Jobs's level of wealth who don't have a laundry room and a live-in maid. Most of these guys have multiple live-in staff, a house manager, etc. I doubt you'd see laundry strewn about in Gates's or Ellison's giant mansions. Jobs lived very simply for a multibillionaire.

post #30 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by poke View Post

There are very few people at Jobs's level of wealth who don't have a laundry room and a live-in maid. Most of these guys have multiple live-in staff, a house manager, etc. I doubt you'd see laundry strewn about in Gates's or Ellison's giant mansions. Jobs lived very simply for a multibillionaire.
He specifically wanted to give his children a normal suburban upbringing, much like his own.

"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
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"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
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post #31 of 45
Originally Posted by Suddenly Newton View Post
He specifically wanted to give his children a normal suburban upbringing, much like his own.

 

And good on him for that.

post #32 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by 1983 View Post

All the surprise on this guy's part that they were just normal people with laundry. Really, why on earth wouldn't they be? People are people, whether famous and wealthy or not. What did he expect? That they dump golden turds or something! Celebrity is an illusion.


...because he thought they would have help to do that sort of thing...
and i'll bet that Steve Jobs was able to do his own laundry too... (folding laundry is probably why he only wore the thing all the time... or perhaps it was a buddist thing...
kr00's comment, i believe, sheds light on this)
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kr00 View Post

Jobs was a buddhist. In buddhism the giving of money is not encouraged as it can lead to greed. Give a man what he needs, not encourage his greed. To lend someone advice or a hand, or even a beer isn't wrong. Steve didn't believe in giving people money as it enables their need for more. Hate isn't part of buddhist practice either. Calling someone a liar, and another hateful on a blog isn't the bravest thing to do. Would you say it to their faces?
post #33 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by Suddenly Newton View Post


He specifically wanted to give his children a normal suburban upbringing, much like his own.

 

Honestly, I think those big, ostentatious mansions are more of a pain in the ass than anything. There's a great book "Richistan" on the lives of the rich and once you have a certain size house, you need a full-time staff, you need gardeners, maids, maintenance, security, etc, you need a house manager to manage all the staff, and a lot of these guys have more staff than they do family living in their houses. They start to regret it because it just makes life more complicated, finding the right staff is difficult and dealing with them becomes a full-time job. Gates's home and especially Ellison's are on that level. I heard that Ellison's requires constant year-round maintenance because they used traditional Japanese methods to build it. I think Jobs had the right idea.

post #34 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post

Just the timing. She asks which country the car is from and .....want a beer. Seems to be something missing....No but was brought one anyway....She doesn't know  what kind of car it is but has a friend in a tux who is an expert in Sunbeams... odd. And when was this? Doesn't anyone have a cell phone? Some peculiar story telling with a few missing pieces is all.


Tuxedos, British sports cars, "chance" meeting with an icon .... And this guy's name is Smith?

 

I believe in a different circumstance, his name would be James ...

post #35 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by poke View Post

 

Honestly, I think those big, ostentatious mansions are more of a pain in the ass than anything. There's a great book "Richistan" on the lives of the rich and once you have a certain size house, you need a full-time staff, you need gardeners, maids, maintenance, security, etc, you need a house manager to manage all the staff, and a lot of these guys have more staff than they do family living in their houses. They start to regret it because it just makes life more complicated, finding the right staff is difficult and dealing with them becomes a full-time job. Gates's home and especially Ellison's are on that level. I heard that Ellison's requires constant year-round maintenance because they used traditional Japanese methods to build it. I think Jobs had the right idea.


The Jobs house is not small by any measure. And it is not situated in a typical suburban neighborhood.

post #36 of 45

this might be a more genuine-sounding "real person" story:

 

http://lisenstromberg.wordpress.com/2011/08/29/my-neighbor-steve-jobs/

post #37 of 45
Some just can't accept what is.

Steve was Buddhist. Public giving the Carnegie and Gates way is not part of the Buddhist way. Anonymity in sharing and charity is not just the Buddhist way either. Most spiritual cultures have an understanding of this form of giving from the heart.

Those that give out of guilt or for recognition are addicted to personal gains of all kinds.

When I find time to rewrite the laws of Physics, there'll Finally be some changes made round here!

I am not crazy! Three out of five court appointed psychiatrists said so.

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When I find time to rewrite the laws of Physics, there'll Finally be some changes made round here!

I am not crazy! Three out of five court appointed psychiatrists said so.

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post #38 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by mhikl View Post

Some just can't accept what is.
Steve was Buddhist. Public giving the Carnegie and Gates way is not part of the Buddhist way. Anonymity in sharing and charity is not just the Buddhist way either. Most spiritual cultures have an understanding of this form of giving from the heart.
Those that give out of guilt or for recognition are addicted to personal gains of all kinds.


Interesting ...

 

So how would you, with your great insight, accept the fact the Jobs did contribute significant to charity through Apple's Product [Red] program? In fact, Apple was the single greatest contributor to the overall Product [Red] program. Is this program spiritually superior to others? Or is it simply a case of he gave on his own terms?

 

And what about the Steven P. Jobs Foundation that he created in the late 80s. Did he shut it down because his Buddhist conscience catch up to him?

 

Can you accept the fact that you really don't know what his motives were? I can.

post #39 of 45
Yes, laundry is a problem regardless of income. My couch is currently invisible under a pile of waiting-for-ironing. Sigh. I hope I don't have any visitors today.
post #40 of 45
Working at NeXT was always a privilege in my eyes. So many comments on here about people of authority, now at NeXT, are so far off the mark it truly reminds me how bad people are at both portraying these people and perceiving what they are like in real life.

Steve and Laurene both were and are down to earth people. If you saw Steve and never took the time to say hello then you're probably the type who'd rather vilify or enshrine him, but if you did you'd see a normal guy with a wry wit.
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