Tuesday, January 15, 2008

End of an Era: Bill Gates moves on

By now everyone has heard that Bill Gates is moving on from Microsoft to focus solely on philanthropy. He gave his final Keynote at the mammoth Consumer Electronic Show (CES) in the Den of Sin (Las Vegas) last week. A video was shown of what Bill's final day might be like. If you haven't seen it, take a look. It's hilarious.

On a personal note, I've had a close encounter with this man/myth/legend back during my tenure at Microsoft Studios in the late 90's. It was early on a crisp fall day and the Department of Justice was coming after Microsoft for anti-trust violations. Because of the nature of the investigation, Bill Gates and other execs had to do satellite linkups for testimony and questioning. I was in miraculously early due to light traffic. Suddenly a cameraman came running into scheduling and pleaded with me to come with him. We ran toward Studio A.

"So what do you need me for?"
"Can you do hair and makeup?"
"Sure. But who I am working on?"
"Bill G."
(Gulp) "Oh."

For anyone who knows me, I am really not qualified to apply makeup or fix hair on anyone, let alone Bill Gates. But I was the only female in the building at the time so that qualified me. I nervously walked into the studio with the makeup kit and there he was, sitting on a stool as the crew fussed with cameras and lights. I approached Bill and said a meek "hi." Then I asked him if it was ok if I put some powder on him to take the shine off. He closed his eyes and started rocking a little, muttering to himself. I don't think I've ever applied powder on a moving target before but I achieved even coverage. Then I needed to comb his hair. And I have to tell you, the most amazing detail with stays with me to this day was how soft his hair was. Like the fur on an angel bunny. He must use the nicest shampoo on the planet with rare herbs, berries and endangered species. Just before stepping out of the shot, I tried to adjust his collar that had his typical "I-just-slept-in-this-shirt" look. The uplink started and I held his water.

I was soon relieved by the actual hair & makeup person who look completely flustered that she was late and that someone else had to do the job. But it was a rush and something I'll never forget. Regardless of how one feels about Microsoft, it sure was something to be in the presence of someone that influential, well-known and powerful. Even if you're just trying to make his face less shiny.

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