For years, I noticed that people who used Apples were cooler then I was. I was a PC guy. PCs were solid, reliable. I knew how they worked, sort of.
I found Apples intimidating. I didn't know if I was cool enough for the machine. I thought people would see me with one, and it would be like they were seeing me wearing a beret. "He's not cool enough for that hat or that machine," they'd think to themselves. Maybe some hip young person would even come over to my table at the coffee shop, gently close the tablet and say softly, "This isn't really for you, is it?"
But something came over me a year ago. I found myself in an Apple store, feeling at first out of place, but then increasingly comfortable. I loosened my tie and started buying stuff. First the MacBook Pro. Then the ever-so-sleek remote keyboard. Then, in an almost point-of-sale decision, like tossing a Snickers bar into the cart at the checkout, an iPhone.
Ok, look, I really wanted a Dell. It was a lot cheaper, but it was my wife Dianne who insisted on the Apple. When I pointed out the price differential and all the features, like that Microsoft Office came free with the PC but you had to pay for with the Apple, Dianne informed me that she didn't care. But I had made my point. I had carefully compared products and weighed the options and the PC clearly came out on top. So, we bought the Apple.
And I never looked back. The Apple reaches in and grabs your heart. It was just right in the same incomprehensible way that things you really love -- a spouse, a home, a city -- are just right.
So I write this on a sleek silver and black machine. It is to computers what a BMW sports coupé is to cars, while my PC was to computers what the 1971 Chevrolet Impala was to cars. My dad owned one of those, and I drove it through high school. I did not date much in high school.
Steve Jobs made me buy an Apple. He wasn't a computer engineer or a software engineer or even a computer science major. He was a college drop-out. But he had that rare combination of gifts: an eye for design and for what people would want, a vision, and the courage to go make it happen.
When he introduced the iPad, he was asked what kind of market studies his company had done to come up with the design. He answered that they had done none because, "It's not the consumer's job to know what they want."
That may come off as arrogant, but it's also genius and it should be applied to politics. My biggest problem with my own political party is that we keep our fingers to the wind and seldom try to change its direction. If the wind blowing mightily from the right, we move in that direction. We forget to be ourselves, something Steve Jobs never did. My Democratic Party needs to be the Apple of politics. I'm afraid that right now we're the PC.
What I like most about Steve Jobs' design sensibility is its stripped down elegance. In so many ways Steve Jobs had the intellectual sleekness of an elegant mind. The same sensibility, applied to other endeavors, even politics, can feel just right.
The New York Times noted that if Steve Jobs had a motto it might have come from The Whole Earth Catalogue, a book he devoured as a young man. The book ends with the admonition to "Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish."
Good advice for people, for companies, for political parties and for cities.