Steve Jobs stood in the lunch line like a regular Joe

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Steve Jobs
Be careful in the cafeteria line. You never know when your boss is behind you.
Photo: Apple

Apple co-founder Steve Jobs was known to be incredibly demanding. But one retired Apple executive said when it came to standing in line in the company cafeteria, Jobs waited his turn like everyone else.

This would not be a surprising revelation about most people, but Jobs’ mercurial nature is the stuff of legend. The late Apple exec’s moods and commands have been the source material for books and movies. His character is even sung about on the opera stage.

Most recently, his daughter Lisa Brennan Jobs wrote a memoir that seemingly portrayed him as an awful father, a depiction that many who knew Jobs said wasn’t true.

Steve Jobs doesn’t take cuts

It can take a lifetime of gathering stories to gain a full understanding of the people who lead revolutions. Whether you see Jobs as a hero or believe he was a tyrant, the most mundane moments can be interesting and illuminating.

Brett Bilbrey, who joined Apple in 2002 and retired in 2014 as its head of technology, tells such a story on the website Quora, where people can ask random questions in hopes of getting a response.

He responded to the question, “What are some lesser-known facts about Steve Jobs?”

Bilbrey qualifies his answer by saying his example may not be “mind-blowing.” But he marvels a bit about how the company CEO took his place in line when he could have easily skipped ahead or had someone get him a meal without employees batting an eye.

Jobs seemed to regularly be just behind Bilbrey, he said.

“And often he would ask me to hold his place while he went to check other food stations,” Bilbrey wrote. “Once when this happened, another employee got in line behind me, and I turned around and told him, ‘Just so you know, I’m saving that spot for Steve.’ He laughed and thought I was kidding. ‘Yeah, right. Like Steve is going to show up and cut in line.’ While he was saying that, Steve had returned and was behind him, and heard his comment. Steve said, ‘I’m not going to cut in, he was holding my spot for me.’ The guy turned around and saw Steve, and the employee’s face actually turned white, and he started shaking. Instead of just making room for Steve, he kind of just slinked away.

“Steve nodded to me and said ‘Thanks.’ Then he pulled out his phone and started checking email while we waited.”

Bilbrey wrote this in 2016 but the story today continues to get “upvotes” and responses, meaning no Jobs story is too ho-hum for fans and techies.