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Steve Jobs's Death: The Reaction at the Berkeley Apple Store

A customer shared the news with employees at the Berkeley Apple Store Wednesday that Jobs had passed away. Eric Riess recalls the moment.

I had just left the Apple store in Berkeley when I got the news bulletin that Steve Jobs, Apple’s co-founder, .

I hurried back to the store figuring that as a journalist, that would be ground zero for reaction. I’m not sure what I expected: some sort of dirge, employees in tears, I really didn’t know. I figured a business that was selling 24/7 connectivity would be abuzz.

But, what I found was a store exactly the same as I had left, 10 minutes earlier. The Geniuses were helping people with computer problems, a corporate photographer was still shooting promotional stills, and the sales people were still cheerfully helping people buy iPhones and iPads.

I stood silently for a minute until a blue-shirted sales rep came over and asked if I needed help. I told him I couldn’t believe how normal things were given that Steve Jobs had just died. He stared at me in disbelief and I realized why normalcy reigned.

No-one in the store had an active cellphone or was even casually browsing the internet. Their electronic eyes and ears were focused on the customers, not information.

“Really?” said the sales rep looking at me in disbelief.

“Sorry to be the one to tell you but I thought everyone here would know,” I offered apologetically.

We walked over to an Macbook Air and he typed ‘Steve Jobs’ into Google. In seconds his worst fears were realized. He took out his iPhone and called up the headline and began silently moving from employee to employee, just holding up the phone. Their shock was evident.

One, trying to help a customer just a few feet away, started to talk to the bearer of bad news and then realized she she was supposed to be working. “Excuse me,” she told the customer, “I’m sorry.” Then she mumbled, and as the customer began to ask a question, she just blurted out, “Steve jobs just died,’" which ended her training session. Luckily, the customer understood the significance.

The sales rep playing Paul Revere finally returned to where I was standing. Still in shock I asked if he ever met Mr. Jobs. “I was in his house, several times.” he said, “Before I worked here I was an art conservator and I helped him choose art work — Ansel Adams prints of the Sierra’s.” His voiced trailed off.

Another staffer stopped by and I asked the same question, “No I didn’t know him, but I used to live in Palo Alto and I would see him downtown, from time to time, buying  a drink — at Starbucks.”

Suddenly, an alarm went off, piercing the air to alert everyone — incorrectly —that someone was trying to steal something. By the time they could get the key and find the switch to turn off the noise, Steve Jobs seemed to become yesterday’s news.

This article was originally published on www.ericriess.com.

Do you have a memory about Steve Jobs to share, or thoughts about his life and legacy? Let us know in the comments.

Shea Cox, DVM October 07, 2011 at 12:02 AM
"By the time they could get the key and find the switch to turn off the noise, Steve Jobs seemed to become yesterday’s news." Wow.
Luis Villalon October 07, 2011 at 05:12 PM
My 8 week old IPod Classic went kaput last night. I was listening to a Podcast on the way home and it just stopped and went black. It was fully charged and when I plugged it back in nothing happened. It is the only Apple product I own. Maybe Mr. Jobs is recalling it as being defective. I need a new computer, but I guess I'll buy another Dell PC

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