My Encounter with Steve Jobs

The year was probably 1998, I was a Junior at the San Francisco School of the Arts high school.

My major was visual art and I was incredibly lucky to be in the last SOTA sculpture class taught by Agelio Batle. In addition to teaching, Agelio was continuously trying to figure out a business that leveraged his unique take on aesthetics and understanding of materials. He did just that a few years later, but in 1998 he was selling incredibly expensive tables into the market of all things cool manifested by the first internet boom wave.

I used to work for him — help finish the tables, deliver them, and so on. The pieces were all 40s and 50s metal office desks — built to survive a nuclear winter. Agelio would buy them for nothing, sand them down, coat with polyurethane, install a fancy stainless steel top, and sell them for thousands.

He sold a couple of desks to a man who’d worked at Apple from a loft either in Potrero Hill or SOMA — I don’t remember. He was some sort of a designer, judging from contents of his office.

I guess the desks started rusting in a few spots and the Apple guy called Agelio in for maintenance. I happened to tag along.

We were in the office, inspecting the rust, talking about something, laughing, when the office phone rang (1998 had lots of those). As the answering machine kicked in and the caller began leaving a message, Agelio froze, looked at me with a look of extreme surprise and made a shush gesture.

So I sat under the table with a piece of sandpaper in hand, listening.

The only thing I remember about that message is that it was a man.

“Do you know who that was?” Agelio said when the man hung up.

I shook my head.

“That was Steve Jobs.”

I shook my head again — never heard of him.

One clap, two clap, three clap, forty?

By clapping more or less, you can signal to us which stories really stand out.