Today, Steve Jobs stepped down from his role as CEO of Apple, Inc. I thought I would commemorate that with my favorite SJ story.
Once upon a time, I worked in the building/floor where Steve has his weekly meeting with the interface designers of the OS X operating system. Like Darth Vader walking the corridors of the Death Star, The Steve would stride down the halls with a pair of minions in his wake, while employees nervously avoided eye contact and drifted out of his path. SJ and minions would enter the meeting room (hilariously named Diplomacy) and leave a couple of hours later, followed by interface designers and engineers who were either crushed or elated, depending on how that day’s presentation had gone.
On one of those days, I happened to be in the bathroom in one of the stalls. The door to the bathroom opened and I heard the footsteps of people entering. They were mid-conversation, and I could immediately place one of the voices as Steve’s, and the other belonging to his Smithers (of that era).
Smithers was talking about some speech demo he had seen (I don’t know if this was from Apple or on the intarwebs or what), where a speech synthesis engine was generating speech using a variety of accents. He gushed, “People love British accents! Those are so sexy! You should get Madonna or Gwyneth Paltrow to do a speech synthesis voice!”
And Steve, in his most condescending, patronizing voice said, “Madonna. Isn’t. British.”
And I’m in the stall, clutching my sides with stifled laughter, trying my very hardest not to shout, “And neither is Gwyneth Fucking Paltrow, ya morons!”
But I wasn’t quite ready to quit. Yet. That’s a different story.