I think John Perry Barlow sums it up:
I’m still in shock, of course. And it’s a very strange feeling; I haven’t used Apple products for very long. I became an Apple user in June 2006. Ever since then, I’ve been hooked and never looked back.
I never knew Steve Jobs and yet I feel incredibly saddened by his death. And honestly, I find this perplexing.
This relationship I had (have?) with Steve is difficult to explain, and I’m sure other Mac users can share this sentiment; I feel so close to him, and yet he’s a stranger. At the end of the day, we will never meet – he will never know my name.
But this reminds me of what’s probably the closest connection I’ll have to Steve Jobs: in 2007, I my laptop died. It was a first generation Macbook I received as a graduation present. I used this laptop for everything – my classes, my illustrations – it was my life. The day my hard drive failed was also the same day the warranty expired. As a college student, I couldn’t afford the AppleCare renewal, so I thought all was for naught, and that I had lost all my work for good (I couldn’t afford an external hard drive then, so none of my work had been saved elsewhere).
So I wrote a desperate email to sjobs [at] apple [dot] com, a much-too-long letter explaining all the issues I had with my Macbook (affectionately named Sam – I don’t know, I was young?), detailing all the problems I had with it over the course of a year, including cracking palmrests, a faulty CD drive, battery failures, and frayed power adapter cords. I couldn’t imagine repurchasing a laptop after a mere year of using one. I wrote,
I know you probably have thousands of other emails to sift through and answer, but I sincerely hope you consider mine to be an honest message. I have nowhere else to turn to, and I believe that you can help me.
He somehow answered mine, indirectly. The next day I received an email from Nicholas Applewhite (not kidding about the name), a member of Apple’s Corporate Executive Relations, with the following message:
Dear Ms. Iris A. Febres,Thank you for your email to the executive offices of Apple. Your correspondence concerns an issue that we believe would be better handled in a phone conversation.Unfortunately, no telephone number was provided in your email below. I have summarized the contents of your letter in case number [XYZ]. If you have not yet resolved the issue, please contact me at [number] Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Pacific time, and reference the above case number.You can also find service and support options to fit your individual needs at the AppleCare Support web site,www.apple.com/support.Thank you for taking the time to email us.
Long story short, this happened:
New laptop replacement, after this happened:
I think about that exchange now, and seeing “forwarded message” again after a good four years since opening that email that now sits in an ignored mailbox, and I’m left speechless. He obviously cared enough about my user experience – the one belonging to a college student without a dime – to forward the email to the right party, who in turn took care of my problem.
I still feel so perplexed. Using the products Steve Jobs created and spearheaded have been essentially second nature to me. I don’t think about my iPhone or my Macbook like I do my other devices; they’re just there. They are so integral to my day-to-day work, my interactions with my friends and family, my [future] career – essentially, and this may sound dramatic, the fibers of my being – that I can’t help but feel sad about Jobs’ passing.
He was the face of a technology that has helped me develop as an individual – academically, professionally, personally. I owe him a lot. And now he’s gone.
Thank you, Steve. Thank you for forwarding that email to Mr. Applewhite. Thank you for making my college experience richer. Thank you for helping me discover I want to make ebooks, as well as my love of tech. Thank you for changing the world.
Thank you, Steve.