I was reading Jon Gruber's post today about the tablet and its "cone of silence," as he brilliantly puts it, and when he mentioned that certain Apple employees have "fallen off the map," it immediately made me think of what happened this past Sunday at Toronto's Yorkdale Apple Store. I was there for a Genius Bar appointment, as I attempted to get Snow Leopard installed on my MacBook (Genius' advice: erase, clean install, use CarbonCopyCloner). As anyone who has visited the store can attest, the Bar is in a cramped part of the store at its very back. So, to my side, I had the pleasure of eavesdropping on an interesting conversation. The store manager had come out to chat with a real-live Apple HQ employee, who I gathered was in town visiting family over the holidays. (He was purchasing a Crucial USB flash drive and some other peripheral, by the way.) But it was the deeper substance of the conversation that was intriguing. When the manager asked him what he was working on, he sarcastically dismissed her with "What are you talking about? Apple doesn't make new products!" She pressed him, and he got a little more serious. "I really can't tell you," he said, at which point she more or less backed off. I got distracted by the Genius, so I missed part of the conversation, but when I tuned back in the guy was mentioning that "if you looked [him] up in the employee registry, [his] entry was faked." (He only identified himself as Jonathan when the manager asked for his name.) He then also mentioned that he was in industrial design down in Cupertino, and had worked on the new iMacs and the Magic Mouse. After that juicy little tidbit hit my ears, he unfortunately headed off to do whatever other Boxing Day Weekend shopping he was at the mall to do. But that was much more interesting, for me, than getting a Genius to help me with my issue. Seems to jive quite nicely with Gruber's claims of a "cone of silence" and employees falling "off the face of the Earth," right? And, of course, it strikes me as interesting that someone who worked on design for the newest, display-focused iMac and multitouch-based Magic Mouse would be within the new project's inner circle. The image of the Apple tablet, in my head, just got a bit more aluminium'ed and smoothly-curved. Thoughts? Anyone have any similar encounters, recent or otherwise?