A popular thread at Quora last week documented some never-before-revealed anecdotes and random run-ins with Steve Jobs. Surprisingly, there aren’t any crazy horror stories akin to Erin Caton’s experience with Jobs cutting her in the sushi line — Jobs comes across as a humane, normal dude outside of the office.
Here are three of the best tales:
Tim Smith, Principal at Applied Design Group: Smith’s long-time girlfriend’s father lived next to Steve Jobs and Laurene Powell. One night, while pulling away from the father’s house, his car broke down and rolled to a halt in front of the Jobs’ family home.
Laurene, whom Smith describes multiple times as “lovely,” brought out two bottles of beer and insisted on calling a friend who was an expert on British cars; the “friend” pulled up 15 minutes later in a “very long, very black car,” stepped out in a tuxedo, and proceeded to look under the hood of the broken Sunbeam Alpine.
Inevitably, Steve came out with one of his children and began to root around the car, eventually giving up and muttering “piece of shit” before going inside. The car ended up being a lost cause; Laurene let Smith use their house phone to call AAA, and a week later, Smith dropped a six-pack of beer off at the Jobs’ door.
Michell Smith: Right before Jobs returned to Apple around 1996, tech and private equity leaders were talking about a hostile takeover of the company, but Smith — an avid Apple-watcher — trusted in CEO Gil Amelio’s turnaround plan. Smith wrote an e-mail to Jobs at Pixar, telling him, “Please, don’t come back to Apple, you’ll ruin it.” Steve replied: “You may be right. But if I succeed, remember to look in the mirror and call yourself an asshole for me.”
Anurag Wadehra, Chief Marketing Officer at LivePerson: Five years ago, Wadehra and his family went to dinner at Sunnyvale restaurant Saravana Bhavan, a South Indian vegetarian joint. Steve, Laurene and Reed Jobs walked in shortly after and sat down amongst the “loud kids and hungry Indians vying for attention of the woefully inadequate staff.” Most of the restaurant staff do not know or care of the Silicon Valley elite they regularly serve, and so Jobs was persistently ignored as he raised his hand to ask for service. He had “the worst table in the house,” and at the end of the meal, when no one came to present his check, he dropped a few dollar bills on the table and walked out.
Then, Wadehra notes “the manager walked by, and I asked him, ‘Did you know that was Steve Jobs?’ He smiled and gave me the Indian head shake – a cross between yes and no. To this day, I don’t know what he meant.”