One of the famous stories about Steve Jobs is that he used to drive around in a Mercedez Benz sports car with no license plates. What’s more, he was also known to park in Handicap spots on Apple’s Cupertino campus. During a recent interview with Jobs biographer Walter Isaacson, Isaacson said that he asked the Apple co-founder why he would do such a thing and left with the impression that Jobs didn’t really feel that certain rules applied to him.
At one point, Jobs told Isaacson he didn’t put license plates on his car because he didn’t want to be followed. Isaccson naturally pointed out that a car with a missing license plate is much more conspicuous. Jobs just shrugged his shoulders.
Well as is often the case, there might be a little bit more to that story – at least to the extent of Jobs riding around with no license plate. Now as for Jobs’ penchant for parking in Handicap spots? Well, that’s just an objectively crappy thing to do.
iTWire recently interviewed Jon Callas who had previously worked in various security positions within Apple. Note though that we’re referring to OS security, not campus security. In any event, Callas recounts that Jobs became aware of a loophole in California law whereby the owner of a brand new car had up to 6 months to get a license plate.
So Jobs decided to strike a deal with his leasing company. The story goes that Jobs, every 6 months, would exchange his silver Mercedes SL55 AMG for the same exact model. “At no time,” the report notes, “would he ever be in a car as old as six months; and thus there was no legal requirement to have the number plates fitted.”
So take that for what it’s worth. Also note that Jobs had previously addressed why his Mercedes lacked proper license plates in a 2001 interview with Fortune. Jobs said that he was merely trying to avoid parking tickets. “It’s a little game I play,” he said.
And it must have been a “game” he played for decades on end. According to legendary Apple programmer Andy Hertzfeld, Jobs even in the early 80’s was keen on discarding license plates and parking in Handicap spots.
Steve Jobs was not the most considerate individual at Apple, and he had lots of ways to demonstrate that. One of the most obvious was his habit of parking in the handicapped spot of the parking lot – he seemed to think that the blue wheelchair symbol meant that the spot was reserved for the chairman.
Whenever you saw a big Mercedes parked in a handicapped space, you could be sure that it was Steve’s car (actually, it was hard to be sure otherwise, since he also had a habit of removing his license plates). This sometimes caused him trouble, since unknown parties would occasionally retaliate by scratching the car with their keys.