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Lorraine Devon Wilke Headshot

My Good Steve Jobs Story

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It's strange to grieve a man you didn't know but grieve I am. I'm not going to try to explain or justify it; when a brilliant mind and a true innovator leaves this earth, it's just... sad. Particularly when Charles Manson is still here.

Some people just tap into a global zeitgeist and their passing impacts as globally as their living. It doesn't have to make sense to everyone (remember how some disparaged the tsunami reaction to Princess Diana's death?), it simply IS. Some people get to us. Some people make such an imprint it feels like you've lost someone you know. And in the case of the ubiquitous Steve Jobs, well... we did kinda know him.

From his inevitable online presentations of new products to his bespectacled picture everywhere to his elegant machinery in the hands, homes, offices, pockets, ears and laps of gazillions all over the world, he was as much a part of our day-to-day lives as anything or anyone could be. The only thing lacking was actual chit-chat at the kitchen counter and given all the chatting we do on/with his products, even that connection felt tangible.

I have a Good Steve Jobs Story.

While I've had some productive correspondences with various underlings in businesses I've patronized over the years, there are only two major players in the big ass corporate world who ever personally responded to me... to a letter, an inquiry, a request; a complaint. Not Ak-Mak Crackers, no. When I repeatedly found bugs in my flatbreads I wrote the head of the company to report the invasion and -- no response. When Verizon once again wreaked havoc on something (anything!) to do with my phones or TV or internet service, wrote and -- you got it -- nothing. Most newspapers and magazines I've contacted with great ideas, pitches or even letters to the editor... oh, please. And forget trying to get to the top if an appliance goes out on you... apparently that cannot be done from here. But two big corporate folks did respond: one was the founder of this publication, the other was Steve Jobs.

My son bought his first iPod waaaaay back when they first came out and there were initially some problems with ITunes in those nascent days of paying and downloading. There was no customer service number to call, only an email address where they promised to get back to the querying customer within 24 hours. After sending several emails and getting no response for weeks, I finally got all huffed up, tracked down Steve Jobs' personal office address in Cupertino, and wrote him a cordial but frank letter wishing him a swift recovery from his recent illness (get a little knot reflecting on that now), while explaining the unresolved and off-putting situation with those several 99 cent tunes my kid was waiting for. I had no expectation of an actual response; this was just one of those pro-active things I'd do when I was too frustrated to let it go and there was no blog with which to flog... which there wasn't at that point!

I went off on a summer trip about a week later, up to a remote island off the coast of Washington State, and while happily islanding without a thought to the technical world left behind, got a phone call. Yep, from Cupertino. I don't remember the name of the woman, but it was Steve Jobs' assistant. She was very sweet, apologized for the problem, reporting that Mr. Jobs had personally instructed her to follow-up and make sure the issue was resolved and my kid got all his tunes. And she did just that. When I got back to Los Angeles all the songs were where they were supposed to be and she followed up with another call to make sure we were completely satisfied with the resolution. We were and I thanked her, telling her to let Mr. Jobs know how much I appreciated his action on my letter.

What a mensch.

To a girl who learned computers on an Macintosh back in 1990, who strayed only briefly to PCs during the middle years when the husband's law practice demanded it, but who ultimately returned to the sleek, inimitable, near-flawless and always impeccably supported MAC platform, Steve Jobs was the Fairy Godfather of classy, corporate cool. A guy who put his imprimatur on what he put out and personally supported it as only a Fairy Godfather would. Obviously we all realize he was in profoundly good company and didn't do it alone, with Wozniak and many, many others knee-deep in the birthing and parenting process along the way, but Steve Jobs was the Man we saw, the man we related to.

That's my Good Steve Jobs Story. It is good, isn't it? It vaunted him to a significant position of respect in my eyes and made my attachment to his products feel all the more deserved since then.

I also want to share this link to a video I originally posted on my own blog a while back. This is a corporate industrial I sang on, one that accompanied the original Macintosh rollout in January, 1984: We Are Apple... Leading the Way. It's a vintage look back, one that illustrates just how far Apple has come in all these years. At first the post was just kitschy fun and a good laugh; now it seems a sort of reverential acknowledgment of how long Mr. Jobs and his fine products have been with us.

I tip my hat and sing once more for the man behind the computer screen... RIP, Steve Jobs. Today we are all Apple.

To read full piece at Rock+Paper+Music with Apple video, click: We Are Apple...Everybody Sing!

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