The L.A. Vietnam Memorial, and My One Steve Jobs Story


The Las Angeles Vietnam Memorial, like many memorials I've visited, is located near the courthouse and main police station.  This is my second visit; the last time was during a light rain that didn't yield the type of photo that I wanted. The light was too soft and the contrast too low. But I did have an interesting encounter that stayed with me. 

While taking pictures in public I'm often approached by people who want to ask about my camera. Because the large format photography requires significant concentration, I'm rarely able to stop and spend much time explaining my process. But as I was photographing and dodging raindrops, a gentleman came to me and asked politely what project I was working on. With no light to chase, I was able to take a few moments and tell him about photographing Vietnam Memorials throughout the state, my late English professor who inspired it, and the exhibition I'm working towards at the end of the year.

When he learned that I worked for Apple during the Steve Jobs era he asked the inevitable question: What was SJ like? Apple, I've come to realize, will always be separated into two periods, whether appropriate or not. The first is SJ's second coming, and the second is after his passing, and if there's one thing that I think all current and former Apple employees have noticed, it's that with SJ's passing there's been an explosion of people claiming to be friends of Steve.

I was not a friend of Steve, as I explained to the man. I met him once on my last visit to the mothership before I left Apple in 2007. I was walking to Café Macs to meet friends for lunch, and he was walking from there, with his lunch in his hand. We said hello to each other, and I'm sure he immediately forgot the encounter, so all I can say is that I have no direct knowledge of what Steve Jobs was like, though the moment remains etched in my mind.

However, I do have a story about SJ that I've never seen published. Around 2006 someone from Apple Retail (it was probably a Genius or a Creative) was brought to the mothership in Cupertino for training. The exuberant employee entered 1 Infinite Loop, turned right, got on the elevator, got off, and entered Steve Jobs' office (I don't know if he knocked on the door or barged in) and told a surprised SJ how excited he was to work for Apple, what a fan he was of SJ, blah, blah. Steve was understandably nonplussed, and everyone at Apple found this too much for anyone to sleep well. The employee was terminated immediately and flown home, I'm sure to the embarrassment of his store. From that point on, a security guard was posted outside of SJ's office to avoid any similar mishaps, though I don't believe that Apple hired anyone else with such bad judgement.