6 April 2015

Incredible sight!!

I dropped Natasha, Nikita and Sharmila at Stanford for their campus visit. I had another hour and a half at hand. So, I headed to University Avenue in Palo Alto, parked the car and started walking. The idea was to sit down at Starbucks and observe all the people walking by or talking excitedly about their next new idea to start a startup.

It was then that I saw the sprawling Apple Store. Tempted by the possibility they might have some iWatches on display, I walked in. They did not. So, it was a pretty short stay inside the the store. But I saw something that made me feel really good about Apple.

As I started heading back to the door, I noticed a young lady wildly gesticulating (or what seemed like wild gesticulations) to a young man facing her. The young man had the unmistakable Apple employee blue shirt on. My first thought was an impatient or maybe even an irate Apple customer trying to explain something to him.

Except, as I came closer to them, I noticed he started doing the same. And none of them were speaking!!! In a flash it dawned on me that it was a customer who was bereft of the power of speech. And Apple actually had a sales agent handy who could converse with her through whatever hand language it is that people bereft of the power of speech speak with!!

I absolute froze in my steps. Clearly among the three of us, I was the one dumbfounded. Eventually, I came to my senses and proceeded to the door again. At the door, I did turn my neck around and perhaps, rather rudely, stared at the two for some time for a few moments. I recognize the rudeness of the act. But the moment was too powerful not to be taken in deeply.

It is one thing to make arrangements for people on wheelchairs. But to make arrangements for people who cannot talk at a retail store, that is something else. Not sure how many retail chains do this. If they do, hats off to them.

Today, I doffed my imaginary hat to Apple’s respect and sensitivity to differently abled human beings.

Posted April 6, 2015 by Rajib Roy in category "Musings", "Vacations


  1. By Anamika Chatterjee on

    Most employees in our neighborhood Kroger have some form of disability that does not however hamper them from dispensing the duties they are hired to do and do them effectively. I recently had a hard time getting the attention of a lady in the bakery only to realize later that she could not hear. Its was an interesting all smiles conversation with lots of pointing and hand gestures that she and I had eventually.

  2. By Steve Martin on

    When I worked at Apple we frequently dealt with people with hearing and vision challenges. (Having devices all around that you can type on and let them read is a godsend when you don’t know sign language). One of my most rewarding experiences was helping a blind customer set up his new Mac (I was given time to study up on the features that would help him out). We had a trainer who worked at length with a nearly blind young teen who I worked with a couple of times also, Full Apple support to do whatever it took to make their experience great.

  3. By Sumana Rao on

    Reading your update gave me goose bumps out of respect for Apple! Powerful moment indeed! Thanks for sharing !

  4. By Meryl Lacy on

    I thought this story was going to end with you starting a startup with one of the passerby’s. ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. By Sri Ganesh on

    In Mumbai there is a chain of stores that have. I was once dumbfounded to explain myself as to what I wanted. I did not know how to communicate with a person who could not speak and hear. There was a signboard which told me that the girl was handicapped and I did not see that. In Israel you have a restaurant run by the blind. You are led to your table by these blind waiters. Yes the place is in complete darkness. An experience to go through.

  6. By Sibapriya Dasgupta on

    Was there a communication problem due to difference in language?Are you sure he was using the sign language apt for a hearing and speech impaired customer? If that is so , I am really impressed!

  7. By Amitesh Mukherjee on

    Your narration of the event in the Apple Store today and reading a little bit about Apple’s current and former CEO and knowing about them, I could not help thinking about the following Simon Sinek video you introduced me to ( http://www.ted.com/talks/simon_sinek_how_great_leaders_inspire_action?language=en#t-335131) where he says about how Apple communicates “Everything we do, we believe in challenging the status quo, we believe in thinking differently”…Simon Sinek talking about how Apple communicates WHY they do what they do….He continues , “People don’t buy what you do , people buy why you do it….The goal is not to business with people who need what you have but the goal is to do business with people who believe what you believe…”… I was hesitating whether to get the Watch or not. There is no more question in my mind.


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