The first day at Microsoft: Don’t just stand there


A second installment in a very sporadic series titled The first day at Microsoft, relating stories of funny things that happened on people’s first days at Microsoft. Today, we hear from Employee Y:

One of the things you have to do on your first day is get your photo taken for your identification badge, and I waited in line with the droves of other new college interns starting that same day. As a result, the line for photos extended out of the room into the parking garage. (ID badges are distributed from a room in the basement of one of the parking garages.)

     |-----
     | CAR
-----+-----
  * * * * * 
     +-----* 
ID   |      *
room |----- *
     | CAR  *
-----|----- *
     | CAR  *
     |----- *
     | CAR  *
     |----- *

As we waited in line, a car pulled up and wanted to park in that empty space near the door that people were blocking. The entire line of college interns just stood and stared in stunned amazement when they realized that the person driving the car was Bill Gates.

This stalemate lasted a good ten seconds before I spoke up and said, “Hey, everybody. I think Bill is trying to park in that empty space.”

That was enough to snap people out of their frozen state. A hole was made, Bill parked his car, crisis resolved.

I like to amuse myself by thinking that each of those interns that blocked Bill from getting to the parking space cost the company more money in wasted time than the intern will make all summer.

Comments (30)
  1. Psa says:

    Glancing at your post I saw a diagram with several CARs in it and thought you were going to write about LISP data structures.

    Back on topic, there are parking meters in London earning considerably more than the workers in the adjacent shops.  Which must be depressing.

  2. Ian says:

    Are all ‘first day at Microsoft’ stories about Bill Gates’ car?

    http://blogs.msdn.com/oldnewthing/archive/2007/09/26/5131601.aspx

    Based on a sample size of two… ;-)

  3. Wait a minute. Is Bill Gates really so productive that wasting 30 seconds of his time will cost the company tens of thousands of dollars?

    Maybe Microsoft should start closely monitoring the amount of time that he spends in the bathroom.

  4. Scott says:

    Wait a second, Bill Gates doesn’t have his own parking spot at Microsoft?

  5. AJ says:

    From now on, I want confirmation from the man himself on these stories.  They reek of urban legend.  And why the weird entrancement?  I have had the opportunity to meet Bill at conferences on a couple occasions and once when I was still in High School.  He was very approachable and personable, not the type of person at all who seems like he wants to be revered in this way.  It probably creeps him out a little bit.

    [I doubt he remembers these little incidents. Do you remember that time you had to wait an extra ten seconds for a parking space five years ago? -Raymond]
  6. Huh says:

    Maybe Bill lost his badge and needed a new one?

  7. scyost says:

    This actually happened to me in 2001. The conversation actually went like

    "Hey, I think somebody is trying to get into that space"

    "Oooh, who is it, Bill Gates?"

    And it was. And then corporate security shooed us all out of the parking garage and into a hallway. I bet the incident happened multiple times because the line to get your badge taken is in a very inconvenient place.

  8. rconde01 says:

    I think they probably just have a Bill Gates look-a-like they send in to humble the new recruits

  9. bramster says:

    "I bet the incident happened multiple times because the line to get your badge taken is in a very inconvenient place."

    It’s been fixed in Vista.  :)

  10. Srdjan says:

    Obviously, this happened before 2001/2, when Bill’s office was in same building as security office. Today, this situation cannot repeat :)

  11. AaronBur says:

    I ran into the same thing during my first internship in 2001.  Back then, Bill and Steve both had reserved parking spots right outside the main security office in Building 8.  Every week, the new interns got their badges right around 1:00 pm and Bill probably ran into them on Mondays coming back from lunch.

  12. GreaseMonkey says:

    Well, he might lose his ID badge again, and then nobody would know who he was.

    If you were to give them all sticky-shoes, they might be able to queue up on the walls of the building, saving space.

  13. ChrisMcB says:

    Why the weird entrancement? I dunno, you’ll have to ask the bright eyed interns yourself.

    When I was an intern I went to the intern dinner at Bill’s house (before he built is new one) After dinner a dozen or so interns were gathered around chatting with Bill. As it was time to go, I walked up to him and shook his hand, and thanked him for dinner. The rest of the group stood around like deer in a headline with their mouths wide open. Looking as if "you can shake his hand?"

    This story doesn’t even come close to reeking of urban legend.

  14. Mr Cranky says:

    @ChrisMcB: …"dear in a headline…"?

    OK, that’s probably a typo.

    I think Mr. Gates should just work 30 seconds later rather than lose the company $1000s.

    I used to work for H. Ross Perot in the early 80s (EDS on Forest Lane in Dallas).  When he decided to show up in his helicopter, sometimes interns got splattered all over the golf course.

  15. マイクロソフトでの初日:そこにだけは立ってはいけない

  16. Merit says:

    One important detail is missing from this story – What does Bill Gates drive to work?

    Probably not his 959.

  17. Lauren Smith says:

    Jeez, my BG story has him in his car as well.

    Based on a few runs of my Bill Gates Monte Carlo location profiler, BG spends almost 100% of his time in his car.

  18. phill says:

    [Quote]

    Wait a minute. Is Bill Gates really so productive that wasting 30 seconds of his time will cost the company tens of thousands of dollars?

    [/Quote]

    Maybe not tens of thousands of dollars – but maybe $9,000?

    http://www.templetons.com/brad/billg.html

  19. Mike says:

    Hold on, Bill Gates drives his own car? Talk about wasting time…

  20. Chad says:

    @Scott:

    "Wait a second, Bill Gates doesn’t have his own parking spot at Microsoft?"

    If I’m not mistaken, that *was* his parking spot at Microsoft. His office is in a different building now.

  21. /. says:

    Bill probably ran into them on Mondays coming back from lunch

    1. Get intern job at Microsoft

    2. Get run into by Bill Gates in his car

    3. Sue.

    4. Profit!

  22. Jim says:

    <blockquote>

    Maybe Microsoft should start closely monitoring the amount of time that he spends in the bathroom.

    </blockquote>

    Didn’t you realize that Bill’s turds are valued at 60-70K a pieces.

  23. KC says:

    Speaking of weird billg-isms … Yahoo is currently running a headline "Burgers with Bill".  Billg is being interviewed at a fast food place, sitting at a table by the window. A guy walks up to the window and mouths "can you spare some change?".   :)

    http://cosmos.bcst.yahoo.com/up/player/popup/?rn=3906861&cl=5221983&ch=4227541&src=news

     KC

  24. It’s been fixed in Vista.  :)

    @bramster: good one.  +1

  25. Cooney says:

    One important detail is missing from this story – What does Bill Gates drive to work?

    My guess is it’s a lexus.

  26. SvenGroot says:

    If I was Bill Gates and knew I was probably going to drive through a line of interns that day, I’d go to work driving an old Citroën 2CV. Just to confuse them. :)

  27. I remeber going to the same place for my badge when I went to work in redmond 2 years back. I also remember someone telling me that Bill Gates’ office is in one of the buldings in that cluster.

  28. Cooney says:

    how about taking a chauffer driven honda?

  29. microbe says:

    Is this a reserved slot for BG? If yes, definitely a badly chosen one.

    Suspicious of the story.

Comments are closed.