Close Encounters of the Steve Jobs Kind (Part 3)S

It would appear we've giving people flashbacks: Readers are still sending us their Steve Jobs sightings. According to the latest batch, the Apple CEO detests a certain partner company, hangs with Larry Ellison and refuses special hospital blankets.

On balance, the emails and comments we've received continue to portray Jobs as a quiet but ultimately friendly presence in Silicon Valley and within Apple, one who does not let his status as a celebrity CEO prevent him from mingling with customers or kindly humoring his many fans. In short, they reinforce the picture painted by out last post, A Treasure Trove of Steve Jobs Stories, and the one before that, How Steve Jobs Behaves in Public.

We started asking about Jobs' presence in public to figure out if the high-profile Apple chief is able to connect with customers like any other executive (he is, mostly), and because we were trying to figure out if his famous public lunch at Silicon Valley's Town & Country shopping center with Google counterpart Eric Schmidt was staged. Given Jobs' regular appearances in public venues, and a report in Gizmodo that he was a regular at the Town & Country venue, we've come to believe the meeting was not staged, as stated in our last post.

Yes, Jobs can get cranky in the hospital, according to one of our tipsters below. But it really says something that this is the only real report of ill temper we've received about the detail-oriented tech exec, at least aside from prior journalistic accounts of heated moments within the Apple executive suite. Given Jobs' health struggles, some irritation inside a hospital isn't something anyone will judge him for.

Below, the actual emails and comments we've received since our last post, including Jobs hanging out with Larry Ellison and the Oracle CEO's toy; a glimpse into Jobs' wardrobe; and a couple of employees who might have been fired if they worked for a different tech boss

Show and Tell with Larry Ellison

I am going to guess sometime in the summer of 1998, one afternoon my wife and I were driving down the street where Steve Jobs lives. As we drove towards Steve's house, we noticed a silver car parked out front that looked like a Lamborghini or some other exotic car. Both of the passenger doors we raised up like scissors. One person was standing on the sidewalk by the passenger door; there was another standing in the street by the driver's side door. Both were clearly admiring the car. As we got closer I recognized who the the driver was in the street — none other than Larry Ellison. I said to my wife, "Look, its Larry Ellison!" Then, as we passed by I recognized Steve standing there on the sidewalk and said, "Look, there is Steve Jobs, too!" It looked like Larry had dropped by Steve's house to show off his new car. Only in Silicon Valley...

No VIP Blanket — or 'Compliance' — for Steve

My relative works as a nurse at a certain hospital in Palo Alto. In this said hospital, they have VIP's (athletes, wives of athletes, CEOs).

Well, one day last year they had Steve Jobs. Now customarily they give red blankets to these persons, as well as fetch them whatever they would like from any eatery in PA. Steve wasn't having it, the CNA gave over a blanket and he refused to wrap himself in it, and tossed it back to her, while folding his legs.

My relative says that he came in a few times last year, and had his own Dr. team, and dedicated nurse to look after him while being treated. The staff basically thought he was a jerk or non-compliant patient.

The Secrets of Steve's Closets: A slightly creepy report from a phone technician

(From this comment by brodie7838 )

One of my co-workers has been inside his Palo Alto house to work on his phone system.This was right around the time he was sick, before the liver transplant; and while Steve was in the house, they made my friend wait before moving into each room to be sure Steve wasn't in the room first.-No wi-fi inside Steve's house AT ALL, as the Internet connection is tied to Apple Corporate.

  • The phone network ties into the PBX in [a] closet.
  • If I remember correctly, his closet is full of suits, not turtlenecks as one would expect.

Fine, Go Ahead and Smoke, 'Genius'

(From this comment by mosdrunkins)

[I'm a] former employee. He likes to make surprise visits to the New York stores and has been know to frown upon employees who boast and get all fan boy at him.

Also a BIG no no is smoking outside in uniform. Its is company policy but often overlooked. He has been known to crack the whip on people because of it. After the Upper West Side location opened he made one of his famous visits and catches an older employee smoking outside with his uniform on (under a jacket mind you) and asks him "You work here?" to which the employee responds "More than you do..." Jobs chuckled, and shook his hand and walked away leaving his job intact...

Least Important Man at the Movie Premiere

I was invited to the "Bug's Life" movie premiere and met Steve Jobs at the after party. He was very friendly, though a little preoccupied with his kids. The atmosphere was very laid back and I told him how much I liked the new iMacs. He smiled and looked around at all the kids playing the "Bug's Life" video game on the numerous iMacs set up in the room.

I was struck at how he took a back seat during the entire event and gave the spotlight to John Lasseter, the director of the movie. As exciting as it was to meet him, the highlight of the day was watching Paul Stanley of KISS chasing his little kids around with his shirt unbuttoned all the way. That is one hell of a man rug!

Stopped by Apple Security

(From this comment by olivertim)

I had two encounters with Steve. Both while I was working at Apple.The first one was when I was driving around IL1 going to the Company Store to get some Apple shwag. I looked down for a second while driving my car looking for parking and when I looked up I had to slam on the breaks because someone stepped out in front of me. I realized after the dirty look I got from him that it was Steve. I hoped he didn't burn my image into his brain to fire me later. :-)

The second time was during a town hall meeting. When the town hall seating fills up everyone gathers around the screens in the cafeteria, which is where I was. While I was standing there waiting for things to start, I'm noticing the Apple security people checking everyones badges before they come in. A couple minutes later I look over and see Steve walking in next to another lady who is feverishly telling him things (probably about the meeting).

Security looks at her badge and let her through, the look at Steve's waist (most people wear their badge on their belt) and there is no badge there. So the security guard steps in front of him, one side then to the other when Steve tries to side step him. The Lady, realizing shes not talking to anyone anymore steps back and grabs Steve by the arm, looks at the security guard and says "Do you know who this is? THIS is Steve Jobs! Thanks!" and pulls Steve, who has a huge grin on his face, and continues on their way. The security guy wasn't smiling. I felt kinda bad, but it was funny. :)

Unlight Thine Eyes, Apple Store Fanboy

As one of your post says, I was also in the Soho store training MacGenii the day it opened. He was exactly as described — quietly watching everyone from the top of the glass staircase — where I stood next to him for a bit — a nod of the head as a hello that he politely returned.

As the store opened with innumerable people flowing in he just sort of wandered around in unfazed by the crowd - most were respectful of him and he did keep his distance from people who you would see recognize him (the eyes light up).

During that week you would see him walking in the street going in and out of the hotel, etc. The interesting part of that day for me, however was not Steve Jobs but Ron Johnson. I had met Ron in Cupertino during Apple corporate new employee brainwashing (I mean training) and two years later in New York City, in the street during that week the SoHo store had opened he walked up to me and said, "Didn't I met you in Cupertino?" and quoted my first name and the city I live in.

The Company Steve Really Hates...

(From this comment by Emporer_was_a_jerk)

My favorite SJ story from my brother while he was working at the Palo Alto Apple Store. Jobs came in with his daughter who had done something to her disk drive on her iMac G4. They came to visit the Genius bar (yes, he made his daughter go to the Genius Bar. She stuck something in her computer to break it so it was her responsibility to get it fixed). As the waited, Steve was perusing the accessory wall and deep in thought blurted out, in front of employees and customers standing around him: "Griffin makes SUCH SHIT". Then turned around and walked to the Genius bar.

How Steve Arrives at a Keynote

In 2005, I took it upon myself to install a Mac Mini in my 2001 VW GTI, which was at the time a very novel thing to do. After a bit of press on the web and in print, the people that run Macworld got in touch with me, saying that Macworld 2006 was the first year they were going to do an iPod car integration portion of the show, and asking if I'd like to bring my car? They'd give my company booth space, and we'd get to show the whole time. Of course, I said! We drove cross-country and made it to San Francisco for the show.

The morning of the first day, I'm sitting outside a loading door at the Moscone center in my car waiting to be let in so I can set up the car, displays, etc. and get ready for the show to start. This is 6:45am, and as I'm listening to the birds chirp, mind wandering and still waking up, an SL55AMG pulls up right alongside my car. Steve Jobs gets out (alone) and is not four feet from my open window! It's just me and Jobs - there didn't even seem to be any traffic that morning, so it was really quiet. I got my mind working quickly to tell him how much the products his company makes have changed my life (my company exists solely to make iPod and iPhone car accessories), opened my mouth and said not one word. Steve wandered off, surely with thoughts of his upcoming Keynote in his head, and I missed a chance to have a brief one-on-one with the man himself! Oops. Good to see he doesn't always travel with a huge entourage, though...

Eats Indian Food, Acknowledges Fan Without Death Stare

I was at the busiest indian restaurant in Sunnyvale. I was facing the parking lot. A Mercedes pulled over and to my surprise it was steve jobs. I had just came to US for my masters. I am a big fan of steve jobs. I was asking people around me is it steve jobs?. some people told ya might be. He was with his family, his wife and two kids. his daughter was carrying a iPod. I thought I should meet him. But someone told me he dosent like to be recognized in public. But I went ahead and stop infront of him and did a shake hand and asked Are you Mr. Steve Jobs? He said, yes. I said it's nice to meet you. he said same here. After that he had his food and left.

[Top pic: Jobs with Pixar's John Lasseter, by macinate on Flickr]