I worked for Apple for eight years. Most of it in retail. Retail work is terrible, and I will have to be in a tough spot before I go back to it. Every terrible story you’ve heard about working retail anywhere is true, and at the Apple Store it can go up by a order of magnitude or two.
However, it was a good job. The people that I worked with are what solidly made it a good job. But second place goes to the people who came in the front doors. I find it easiest to break the visitors to the store into three broad categories in reference to me. The terrible people who were wildly entitled or simply awful people. The people who were there to accomplish what they came there for and leave. Then there were the third group. These were the people who were not only good, polite, understanding, warm, empathetic people, but, most importantly, were trusting.
During my better part of a decade working for Apple, I was trusted with so many raw glimpses into the private lives of other people. There were so many moments where someone had only a few minutes of conversation that distinguished me from a complete stranger, and we’d talk about something so dipped in reality that it would humanize use both.
This week Apple released two videos for Autism Acceptance Month.
In one of them, Dillan’s (the young man with autism) mom talks about hearing her son speak for the first time (through an iPad). The video does a solid job of conveying the magnitude of that moment, but it falls short. I have, literally, been present when a young person with autism starts typing on an iPad that speaks his words to his parents first the very first time using the Proloquo2Go app. It’s overwhelming to watch a family have that moment and somehow be a part of that.
Apple aside, the things that technology has given to people who would have little or nothing in the past is astounding.
As a bonus, the first time that I saw Apple’s iPhone 4 FaceTime advertisement was one of the first times I cried with a customer.