The first day at Microsoft: A fender-bender

This is the first of what might be a series of stories on the subject, So what happened on your first day at Microsoft? Some facts may have been altered to preserve the anonymity of the subject, but the essense is true. Our first storyteller is "Employee X":

At the end of my first day, I back out of my parking space and accidentally hit a Lexus parked behind me. Oh great, my first day at work, and I dent somebody's fancy car. I leave a note of apology on the windshield, with my name, email address, phone number, and a promise to pay for whatever repairs are necessary.

The next day, I come to work, and I have a new email message.

From Bill Gates.

Oh my God, I dented Bill Gates' car.

Fortunately, he said not to worry about it.

Bonus: Russell Ball shares a voicemail message left by a new employee on his second day.

Comments (30)
  1. BillG was probably impressed that the guy actually owned up to it instead of taking off.

  2. Kip says:

    You mean Bill doesn’t have his own parking space up front somewhere?

  3. andy says:

    Kip: maybe he was in a meeting?

    Or, maybe some other new employee stole his private parking space on the same day? ;-)

    And, still the same day, somebody stole his limo so he had to rent a Lexus and therefore didn’t care much about the damages since his Platina Hertz card, or whatever, takes care of such issues.

    (Woho, build is completed… back to that console)

  4. Op de Old New Thing blog staat een leuke post…. This is the first of what might be a series of stories…

  5. Tom says:

    I like how Russel tried to "anonymize" the voice mail recording, but titled it chasealarm.wav.  I hope Chase is an even better sport now that he’s famous. :)

  6. Ollie says:

    So Lexus has been around since about 1989 and BillG wouldn’t be driving a car at any other MS site, so there must be about 100,000 possible suspects at the Redmond campus between 1989 and now.

    Personally I reckon it was Raymond :)

  7. Brian Schkerke says:

    Trying to figure out who did what when an article has been anonymized has a history of annoying Raymond. ;)

  8. Gabe says:

    Unfortunately it’s not clear what alarm has been set off. Is it the building’s security alarm? How was it triggered? The story would have been so much better if we knew what got this hapless n00b into this predicament.

  9. AJ says:

    Bill drives a Lexus?  Seems a little modest for a man of his stature.  ;-)

  10. Dan McCarty says:

    AJ: Bill’s Friend, Warren, drives a Lincoln.  Your point is that rich people should drive more expensive cars than Lexi?

    A great quote once from a WSJ article ("In Tough Times for CEOs, They Head to Warren Buffett’s Table," by Monica Langley):

    After paying $35 in cash for the two dinners, Mr. Buffett prepared to drive his fellow billionaire [Gates] back tot eh airport.  But his first new car in 10 years, a Lincoln Town Car whose license plate says "THRIFTY," wouldn’t start.  Mr. Gates says despite their best efforts, neither he nor Mr. Buffett could unlock the steering wheel.  So the two richest men in the U.S. were stranded in the Gorat’s parking lot, until the called a taxi to pick them up.

    I had dinner once at that Gorat’s a few years ago, just a few tables away from Mr. Gates and Mr. Buffett.  Their personal modesty is one thing that impressed me.

  11. John says:

    A Lexus ought to be enough for anyone.

  12. John says:

    A Lexus ought to be enough for anyone.

  13. Kamil Kisiel says:

    A few years back when I was on an internship at a company here in the Vancouver, BC area we had to head down to Seattle for some field testing of a product. It was only my third day at work. We rented a car from the airport and drove down to Seattle, doing some testing along the way. Since we had a lot of work to do, we ended up staying up till around midnight. The next morning I was a bit groggy when were going to leave the motel. I was pulling out of the parking spot, and noticed the one next to me was free, so I swung out a little wide and…. slammed the front passenger side right in to a concrete pillar in the adjacent spot. I managed to rip up the fender pretty good, but fortunately the car was still drivable. The company had insurance so it wasn’t a big deal and my coworker and my HR rep promised to keep it a secret but of course it wasn’t long till the word got out and I was known as "the intern who crashed the car".

  14. Tom Kidd says:

    I seem to recall that during whatever election year it was that Ross Perot first ran for president (1992 I think) it was revealed that he still drove a 1983 Chevy Nova. So, just because you’re rich doesn’t mean you drive the best car in the world – geeks in particular are known for having lackluster automobiles and preferring to spend their money elsewhere.

  15. Qian says:

    Of course if he had dented Bill Gates’ Porsche 959, he may not have been so forgiving. :)  I applaud his good sense in driving a Lexus.  Dollar for dollar, there’s no better car.  But he is also a bit of a car guy as well.  I believe he has around a dozen or two fairly pricey automobiles?  Nothing like Jay Leno crazy, but nothing so thrifty as Warren Buffet either.  Still, I salute Bill for not getting into the super-yacht pissing match between Paul Allen and Larry Ellison and for not buying a 767 party plane like Brin and Page.  Instead, he has put his billions toward some very worthy causes.

  16. Feroze Daud says:

    I also agree with the other commenter. This story was told to us in the orientation as part of a feelgood video, back in Jan’97.

    [Well excuuuse me for telling a story you’ve already heard. If you want, you can apply for a refund. -Raymond]
  17. squidbot says:

    Bill Gates driving a Lexus is correct, as of three months ago. I was driving to work one morning down the 520, looked at a Lexus SUV passing me in the carpool lane, and it was Bill and (I’m assuming) his kids. I thought that was pretty cool that the richest dad in the world drives his kids around :)

  18. JamesW says:

    Maybe this story can be used to prove if this car was really owned by Bill Gates. :)

  19. Andrew says:

    So I’m interested to hear who that was, if only for the reason that I’m pretty sure it didn’t happen.

    I was an intern at MS in the summer of 2004, and that exact story was told to us at orientation as part of the set of standard corporate “feel-good” videos.  As I was a graduating intern, I got to go to Gates’ house at the end of the summer for a BBQ and Q&A.  While most of the other interns asked fairly boring questions like “where do you think software is going,” etc, I retold that story to Bill and asked if it was true.  He said it was definitely *un*-true; and seemed to find it amusing that they were regaling new employees with it.  He did say that at one point he backed into someone else’s car though.

    [I worked with the subject of this story for many years. It’s possible that over time, details have been embellished to the point where it isn’t factually true any more. -Raymond]
  20. マイクロソフトでの初日

  21. Francis says:

    This reminds me of a story from a company where I used to work.  One of the perks was that we could borrow the company cars for personal use as long as they weren’t needed for business.  One day, one of my colleagues borrowed one and crashed it…and then it turned out that he didn’t have a valid driving license!

  22. Vladimir says:

    Are you sure the mail was really from Gates? It seems almost obvious to me that it was a prank mail from somebody who spotted the note on the car’s windshield and took it away. Maybe it was the owner of the car himself, and he decided to let it pass but played a little joke instead.

  23. says:

    Ooooops. Was it real?

  24. andrew says:

    well, smells a good job of MS PR dept. "A saint BG driving his modest Lexus".

  25. vexx_rus says:

    hit them once more!! ))

  26. Dave says:

    Poor guy lost his job over that fender-bender. He was in the marketing department and Bill figured that anyone that honest would never succeed there.

  27. Peter's Blog says:

    I saw this post on Raymond Chen’s blog. Since tomorrow is my first day at Microsoft I am 100% sure this…

  28. darth valer says:

    keeping it real fake – generosity of BG!

  29. AJ says:

    Did you guys miss the winky after my post?  It was meant as a joke.  

    However, I am sure Bill’s Lexus is a lot nicer than mine.

Comments are closed.