“You are not so fed up on Mrs. Pollzoff that you want to
get away from us all, are you?” he demanded.
“No, of course not, but I was wondering what his plan was
and what happened to it, if anything,” Roberta answered.
“Glad to hear you do not want to leave. Gosh, to lose our only
girl sky-pilot would be—unthinkable; but, come to think of it, Howe
came to the house to see Dad one day last week, perhaps they are
getting it fixed up for you to take on the job. I heard the Old Man
say the Federal representative would be at the office today, so
perhaps you’ll get some information. Here we are.” They reached
the plane and Roberta climbed into the seat beside the pilot’s,
adjusted straps and parachute, while the young man gave his
machine15 a thorough looking-over then took his own place.
I still smart a little at the slight. When you’ve suffered agreat deal in
life, each additional pain is both unbearable andtrifling. My life is like
a memento mori painting from Europeanart: there is always a grinning
skull at my side to remind meof the folly of human ambition. I mock
this skull. I look at itand I say, “You’ve got the wrong fellow. You may
not believein life, but I don’t believe in death. Move on!”
The skullsnickers and moves ever closer, but that doesn’t surprise me.
The reason death sticks so closely to life isn’t biologicalnecessity – it’s envy.
Life is so beautiful that death has fallen inlove with it, a jealous,
possessive love that grabs at what it can.
But life leaps over oblivion lightly, losing only a thing or two ofno importance,
and gloom is but the passing shadow of acloud. The pink boy also got the
nod from the RhodesScholarship committee. I love him and I hope his time
atOxford was a rich experience. If Lakshmi, goddess of
wealth,one day favours me bountifully, Oxford is
fifth on the list
ofcities I would like
to visit before
I pass on, after
“Top of the morning to you,” Phil called cheerily. “Your esteemed passenger
wants to make an early start, so the boys will have Nike warmed up for
you and you can start as soon as you get to the field.”
“It’s mighty good of you to come and fetch me,” Roberta smiled at the
president’s son, who had not so many weeks before gone through a series
of exciting, dangerous air-adventures with her. But those things were all in
the day’s work and belonged to the past; the new day awaited them.
“It isn’t much of a hop, and as Mrs. Pollzoff has all the earmarks of being a
good customer, she must be humored,” Phil grinned. “Just the same, I’m
glad they wished her on you and Nike instead of the Moth and yours truly.”
“Well, it’s no particular fun piloting her. I wish she’d decide she wants variety,
and14 give you all a chance at the job,” Roberta told him. They were making
their way to where the Moth, Phil’s own imported machine, waited to leap in
the air with them. “I say, when is Mr. Howe going to start that investigation
he spoke of a few weeks ago. Heard anything about it?”
I never had problems with my fellow scientists. Scientists area friendly, atheistic,
hard-working, beer-drinking lot whose mindsare preoccupied with sex, chess
and baseball when they arenot preoccupied with science.
I was a very good student, if I may say so myself. I wastops at St. Michael’s
College four years in a row. I got everypossible student award from the
Department of Zoology. If Igot none from the Department of Religious Studies,
it is simplybecause there are no student awards in this department (therewards
of religious study are not in mortal hands, we allknow that). I would have
received the Governor General’sAcademic Medal, the University of Toronto’s
highestundergraduate award, of which no small number of illustriousCanadians
have been recipients, were it not for a beef-eatingpink boy with a neck like a
tree trunk and a
Precisely by being so slow. Sleepiness and sloth-fulness keepit out of harm’s way,
away from the notice of jaguars, ocelots,harpy eagles and anacondas. A sloth’s
hairs shelter an algaethat is brown during the dry season and green during the
wetseason, so the animal blends in with the surrounding moss andfoliage and
looks like a nest of white ants or of squirrels, orlike nothing at all but part of a tree.
The three-toed sloth lives a peaceful, vegetarian life in perfectharmony with its
environment. “A good-natured smile is foreveron its lips,” reported Tirler (1966).
I have seen that smile withmy own eyes. I am not one given to projecting human
traitsand emotions onto animals, but many a time during thatmonth in Brazil,
looking up at sloths in repose, I felt I was inthe presence of upside-down yogis
deep in meditation orhermits deep in prayer, wise beings whose intense
imaginativelives were beyond the reach of my scientific probing.
Sometimes I got my majors mixed up. A number of myfellow religious-studies
students – muddled agnostics who didn’tknow which way was up, who were
in the thrall of reason,that fool’s gold for the bright – reminded me of the
three-toedsloth; and the three-toed sloth, such a beautiful example of
themiracle of life, reminded me of God.
“Or rides the air,” Harvey laughed.
“Are you children riding in with me?” Mr. Langwell asked.
“The time is getting short.”
“I am, Dad, thanks. If you will take me as far as the subway in
Jamaica, I’ll land just in time for class,” Harvey answered.
“Phil will be here to pick me up, thank you,” Roberta replied, so,
as the meal was finished, and the last pancake had disappeared,
they left the table to start on the day’s occupations. Harvey raced
up the stairs, three at a jump, while his sister gave her mother a
hand straightening the dining room as she waited for
Phil Fisher to take her to the flying field.
“I hear the motor, my dear,” Mrs. Langwell interrupted.
“You’d better hurry.”
13 “He’s early this morning, but probably he has something to do
before schedule.” The girl hastened with her own preparations so
that when the young man appeared at the
door she was
and all ready
to take the air.
It seemed natural that Mr. Patel’s story should be toldmostly in the
first person – in his voice and through hiseyes. But
any inaccuracies or mistakes are mine.
I have a few people to thank. I am most obviouslyindebted to Mr.
Patel. My gratitude to him is as boundlessas the Pacific Ocean and I
hope that my telling of his taledoes not disappoint him. For getting
me started on thestory, I have Mr. Adirubasamy to thank. For helping
mecomplete it, I am grateful to three officials of exemplaryprofessionalism:
Mr. Kazuhiko Oda, lately of the JapaneseEmbassy in Ottawa; Mr. Hiroshi
Watanabe, of OikaShipping Company; and, especially, Mr. Tomohiro
Okamoto,of the Japanese Ministry of Transport, now retired. As forthe
spark of life, I owe it to Mr. Moacyr Scliar. Lastly, Iwould like to express
my sincere gratitude to that greatinstitution, the Canada Council for the
Arts, without whosegrant I could not have brought together this story
that hasnothing to do with Portugal in 1939. If we, citizens, do notsupport
our artists, then we sacrifice our imagination onthe altar of crude reality
and we end up believing innothing and having worthless dreams.
One of Jobs’s great strengths was knowing how to focus. “Deciding what
not to do is as important as deciding what to do,” he said. “That’s true
for companies, and it’s true for products.”
He went to work applying this principle as soon as he returned to Apple.
One day he was walking the halls and ran into a young Wharton School
graduate who had been Amelio’s assistant and who said he was wrapping
up his work. “Well, good, because I need someone to do grunt work,” Jobs
told him. His new role was to take notes as Jobs met with the dozens of
product teams at Apple, asked them to explain what they were doing,
and forced them
to justify going
ahead with their
products or projects.
You must askhim all the questions you want.”Later, in Toronto, among
nine columns of Patels in thephone book, I found him, the main character.
My heartpounded as I dialed his phone number. The voice thatanswered
had an Indian lilt to its Canadian accent, lightbut unmistakable, like a trace
of incense in the air. “Thatwas a very long time ago,” he said.
Yet he agreed to meet.
We met many times. He showed me the diary he keptduring the events.
He showed me the yellowed newspaperclippings that made him briefly,
obscurely famous. He toldme his story. All the while I took notes. Nearly a
yearlater, after considerable difficulties, I received a tape and areport from
the Japanese Ministry of Transport. It was as Ilistened to that tape that
I agreed with Mr. Adirubasamythat this was, indeed, a story to make you believe in God.
Jobs disagreed. He telephoned Ed Woolard to say he was getting Apple out
of the licensing business. The board acquiesced, and in September he reached
a deal to pay Power Computing $100 million to relinquish its license and give
Apple access to its database of customers. He soon terminated the licenses of
the other cloners as well. “It was the dumbest thing in the world to let
companies making crappier hardware use our operating system and cut
into our sales,”
he later said.
God?””Yes.””That’s a tall order.””Not so tall that you can’t reach.”My waiter appeared.
I hesitated for a moment. I orderedtwo coffees. We introduced ourselves.
His name was FrancisAdirubasamy. “Please tell me your story,” I said.
“You must pay proper attention,” he replied.
“I will.” I brought out pen and notepad.
“Tell me, have you been to the botanical garden?” heasked.
“I went yesterday.””Didyou notice the toy train tracks?””Yes, I did.””A train
still runs on Sundays for the amusement of thechildren. But it used to run
twice an hour every day. Didyou take note of the names of the stations?””One
is called Roseville. It’s right next to the rosegarden.””That’s right. And the
other?””I don’t remember.””The sign was taken down. The other station was
oncecalled Zootown. The toy train had two stops: Roseville andZootown.
Once upon a time there was a zoo in thePondicherry Botanical Garden.”He
went on. I took notes, the elements of the story. “Youmust talk to him,”
he said, of the main character. “I knewhim very, very well. He’s a grown man now.
So upon his return to Apple he made killing the Macintosh clones a priority.
When a new version of the Mac operating system shipped in July 1997,
weeks after he had helped oust Amelio, Jobs did not allow the clone makers
to upgrade to it. The head of Power Computing, Stephen “King” Kahng,
organized pro-cloning protests when Jobs appeared at Boston Macworld that
August and publicly warned that the Macintosh OS would die if Jobs declined
to keep licensing it out. “If the platform goes closed, it is over,”
Kahng said. “
Closed is the
kiss of death.”
One of his motivating passions was to build a lasting company. At age twelve,
when he got a summer job at Hewlett-Packard, he learned that a properly run
company could spawn innovation far more than any single creative individual.
“I discovered that the best innovation is sometimes the company, the way you
organize a company,” he recalled. “The whole notion of how you build a company
is fascinating. When I got the chance to come back to Apple, I realized that
I would be useless without the company, and that’s why I decided to stay and rebuild it.”
Killing the Clones
One of the great debates about Apple was whether it should have licensed its
operating system more aggressively to other computer makers, the way Microsoft
licensed Windows. Wozniak had favored that approach from the beginning.
“We had the most beautiful operating system,” he said, “but to get it you had
to buy our hardware at twice the price. That was a mistake. What we should
have done was calculate an appropriate price to license the operating system.”
Alan Kay, the star of Xerox PARC who came to Apple as a fellow in 1984, also
fought hard for licensing the Mac OS software. “Software people are always
multiplatform, because you want to run on everything,” he recalled. “And
that was a huge battle, probably the largest battle I lost at Apple.”
After my writing day was over, I would go for walks inthe rolling hills of the tea estates.
Unfortunately, the novel sputtered, coughed and died. Ithappened in Matheran,
not far from Bombay, a small hillstation with some monkeys but no tea estates.
It’s a miserypeculiar to would-be writers. Your theme is good, as areyour sentences.
Your characters are so ruddy with life theypractically need birth certificates. The plot
you’ve mappedout for them is grand, simple and gripping. You’ve doneyour research,
gathering the facts – historical, social,climatic, culinary – that will give your story its
The dialogue zips
“They speak a funny Englishin India. They like words like bamboozle.” I remembered
hiswords as my plane started its descent towards Delhi, so theword bamboozle was
my one preparation for the rich, noisy,functioning madness of India. I used the
word on occasion,and truth be told, it served me well. To a clerk at a trainstation I said,
“I didn’t think the fare would be soexpensive. You’re, not trying to bamboozle me, are
you?” Hesmiled and chanted, “No sir! There is no bamboozlementhere. I have quoted
you the correct fare.”This second time to India I knew better what to expectand I knew
what I wanted: I would settle in a hill stationand write my novel. I had visions of myself
sitting at atable on a large veranda, my notes spread out in front ofme next to a
steaming cup of tea. Green hills heavy withmists would lie at my feet and the shrill
cries of monkeyswould fill my ears. The weather would be just right,requiring a light
sweater mornings and evenings, andsomething short-sleeved midday. Thus set up,
pen in hand,for the sake of greater truth, I would turn Portugal into afiction. That’s
what fiction is about, isn’t it, the selectivetransforming of reality? The twisting of it
to bring out itsessence? What need did I have to go to Portugal?
The lady who ran the place would tell me stories aboutthe struggle to boot the
British out. We would agree onwhat I was to have for lunch and supper the next day.
Despite the grueling schedule, the more that Jobs immersed himself in Apple, the more
he realized that he would not be able to walk away. When Michael Dell was asked at a
computer trade show in October 1997 what he would do if he were Steve Jobs and
taking over Apple, he replied, “I’d shut it down and give the money back to the
shareholders.” Jobs fired off an email to Dell. “CEOs are supposed to have class,”
it said. “I can see that isn’t an opinion you hold.” Jobs liked to stoke up rivalries as
a way to rally his team—he had done so with IBM and Microsoft—and he did so
with Dell. When he called together his managers to institute a build-to-order
system for manufacturing and distribution, Jobs used as a backdrop a blown-up
picture of Michael Dell with a target on his face.
“We’re coming after
he said to cheers
from his troops.
It was rough, really rough, the worst time in my life. I had a young family. I had Pixar.
I would go to work at 7 a.m. and I’d get back at 9 at night, and the kids would be in bed.
And I couldn’t speak, I literally couldn’t, I was so exhausted. I couldn’t speak to Laurene.
All I could do was watch a half hour of TV and vegetate. It got close to killing me. I was
driving up to Pixar and down to Apple in a black Porsche convertible, and I started to get
kidney stones. I would rush to the hospital and the hospital would give me a shot of
Demerol in the butt and eventually I would pass it.This book was born as I was hungry.
Let me explain. Inthe spring of 1996, my second book, a novel, came out inCanada.
It didn’t fare well. Reviewers were puzzled, ordamned it with faint praise. Then readers ignored it.
Despite my best efforts at playing the clown or the trapezeartist, the media circus made no
difference. The book didnot move. Books lined the shelves of bookstores like kidsstanding
in a row to play baseball or soccer, and mine wasthe gangly, unathletic kid that
no one wanted on theirteam. It vanished quickly and quietly.
The fiasco did not affect me too much. I had alreadymoved on to
another story, a novel set in Portugal in 1939.
Only I was feeling restless. And I had a little money.
So I flew to Bombay. This is not so illogical if yourealize three things: that a stint in
India will beat therestlessness out of any living creature; that a little moneycan go
a long way there; and that a novel set in Portugalin
1939 may have very little to do with Portugal in 1939.
I had been to India before, in the north, for five months.
On that first trip I had come to the subcontinent completelyunprepared.
Actually, I had a preparation of one word.
When I told a friend
who knew the
of mytravel plans,
he said casually,
That week he gathered his top managers and staff in the Apple auditorium
for a rally, followed by a picnic featuring beer and vegan food, to celebrate
his new role and the company’s new ads. He was wearing shorts, walking
around the campus barefoot, and had a stubble of beard. “I’ve been back
about ten weeks, working really hard,” he said, looking tired but deeply
determined. “What we’re trying to do is not highfalutin. We’re trying to get
back to the basics of great products, great marketing, and great distribution.
Apple has drifted away from doing the basics really well.”
For a few more weeks Jobs and the board kept looking for a permanent CEO.
Various names surfaced—George M. C. Fisher of Kodak, Sam Palmisano at
IBM, Ed Zander at Sun Microsystems—but most of the candidates were
understandably reluctant to consider becoming CEO if Jobs was going to remain
an active board member. The San Francisco Chronicle reported that Zander declined
to be considered because he “didn’t want Steve looking over his shoulder,
second-guessing him on every decision.” At one point Jobs and Ellison pulled
a prank on a clueless computer consultant who was campaigning for the job; they
sent him an email saying that he had been selected, which caused both amusement
and embarrassment when stories appeared in the papers
that they were just toying with him.
By December it had become clear that Jobs’s iCEO status had evolved from
interim to indefinite. As Jobs continued to run the company, the board quietly
deactivated its search. “I went back to Apple and tried to hire a CEO, with the help
of a recruiting agency, for almost four months,” he recalled. “But they didn’t
produce the right people. That’s why I finally stayed. Apple
was in no shape to attract anybody good.”
The problem Jobs faced was that running two companies was brutal.
Looking back on it,
he traced his
back to those days: