Oct. 5th, 2011


Oct. 5th, 2011 06:51 pm
azurite: (apple)
I thought my co-worker was joking when he told me that Steve Jobs died today. It sounds mean, but he's joked off-color things with me before, and I've been told I have a weird sense of humor, so I sometimes expect people to try me to see my reaction.

But it was for real. When we get folks asking about the iPhone 5 or whatever, we say "Until it's on Apple.com, it's not official." So I go to Apple.com, and there he is: Steve, with a stupidly short date range. I click through to see a short message.

For the remainder of my 15-minute break, I wavered between abject shock and a morbid curiosity to see what others have said. I checked websites and Google news. There's no way this is a rumor, no way this is a bad joke.

I've had a hard time not crying ever since I found out, and I've failed on numerous occasions, leading my co-workers to ask me what's wrong. This just makes me feel pathetic, because clearly I'm no good at holding my emotions in...not like I used to be, or like I thought I did. It also makes me mad, because I feel like it should be obvious why I'm upset, why everyone in the store should be upset.

But it's business as usual, and it's GOT to be, because that's what we're doing, honoring all of Steve's hard work, his memory, right?

It still sucks. I'm halfway tempted to take up the HR Admin's offer of telling the leadership I don't feel well enough to work, but we're short-staffed as it is, and I don't want to seem even more pathetic in the eyes of my co-workers. It's bad enough that when I cry, I get red-faced all day long, but to top it off, I decided to wear mascara today, so now I look like some insane zombie raccoon.

Given time, I might come up with something halfway decent to send to the Remembering Steve email address, but for right now, here's all I know:

My planned entry for the Adobe Imagination Challenge will still feature Steve. My plan was to put together a scene featuring the silhouettes of people/characters that have inspired me, and of course Steve is among them.

I'm sad because Steve really did inspire me. Even with horror stories, even with failures, even negative press, I still admired the guy because I saw something of myself in him: someone who was creative and believed in the possibilities that technology could bring to everyday people, not just super-geeks. Steve was (I hate the past tense right now) the kind of guy that pushed everyone's limits, that demanded the best, that had high standards. I'm like that too, and I get a lot of flack for it, but thinking of Steve helped me think that there's not something "wrong" with me for being enthusiastic, for being determined (and yes, sometimes very stubborn), and for taking all the things that I feel haven't gone my way in life and trying to make something positive of them.

I don't want to let go of my crazy dream that I've had lately, and that's to be a bit more like Steve, to make a footprint by making a difference: by having a crazy idea and sticking with it, no matter what. I want to stay part of Apple, not just because of the amazing people, the energy and creativity that flow throughout every part of the company, or because of the iconic products, but because of the foundations that Steve laid out. What we have today, what we take for granted in the forms of Apple Stores around the world, and iPods, iPhones, and iPads in every Starbucks and on every street corner, is because Steve thought something along the lines of "I don't care what people think. This is a good idea and I'm going to make it happen." And he did.

I'll admit to still being a bit afraid of giving more of a voice to my dream, of sharing the specifics with anyone I don't wholeheartedly trust (to keep their mouth shut but to provide me the support I know I'll need to get there), but it's a lot bigger than just "be like Steve." There are probably a lot of things people could counter that notion with, like how exacting Steve was, how private, how difficult to work with. If I'm not those things already, they're things I can empathize with, that I can understand and respect. I'm not saying I want to be Steve 2.0 or anything like that, but who could blame me for hoping to live up to the amazing legacy he set forth with his ideas, his products, his ventures?

I'm also not saying Steve did everything. He's not the sole inventor of all things Apple. But there is a reason why he's so iconic, why Apple is what it is today, and why a lot of those other people have jobs at all.

I wish he were still here. I wish I could have paid the Apple campus at 1 Infinite Loop a visit and just breathed the same air as him for even a moment, made a complete fool of myself by squeeing or turning into a statue instead of knowing how to say "Hello, you're an inspiration to me and I want to thank you for everything you've done." I wish I could have known him and he could have known me, and he could have told me that I'm just at the beginning of my road, that no matter what roadblocks manifest (of my own invention of otherwise), I can succeed, because he did, too.

Several years ago, I hated all things Apple. Steve Jobs didn't mean anything to me. My goal was to "topple Bill Gates." Things change. People change.

In his commencement address at Stanford in 2005, Steve made a lot of references to death and dying. Observations from various people throughout the years noted that he seemed to have an obsession with making an impact, because he thought he would die young. And he did. Fifty-six is young. I know he did a lot, and maybe that means he accomplished a lot more in those short years than anyone else has or could have, but that doesn't mean he couldn't have done a lot more.

That he died of a rare form of pancreatic cancer just means that even the greatest among us are still human, that money can't fix all problems, and that you can make a huge impact even if you're stubborn, even if people think you're a lousy leader or a pathetic programmer, and even if you set the bar incredibly high for yourself.

Thank you, Steve, for everything.

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