Irregular Times
TRUE Urban Legends

Do I look like I'm joking?

To Irregular Jonathan:


My brother-in-law has a friend with a contact in Japan who was given a transcript of a tape recording of a phone call between a Japanese computer distributor (Mr. A in the transcript) and Bill Gates! The transcript was in Japanese but was translated for him by his girlfriend's mother. Here it is:

(Did I mention that this actually happened and is therefore really TRUE? It is!)

Mr. A: Hello? Do you want to buy a computer? We sell them with Windows 98, half price!

Bill Gates: Really? I don't remember approving such a deal.

Mr. A: Listen mister, I approve all deals. No one else!

Bill: This is Bill Gates of Microsoft speaking.

Mr. A: Oh, Mr Gates! Good morning to you, sir! Where do you want to go today, ha ha! We love your Windows 98, sell half price because we love it. It is so much better than that old fuddy duddy Macintosh operating system. Macintosh is not as user-friendly. Who can figure it out? Windows 95 always works and is so easy to install. It takes up practically no memory at all and never never causes computers to crash because of software conflicts. Clearly it is a superior product and the only one deserving of customer attention. You are to be congratulated, sir! How is the new home and your lovely wife? Please give me just a minute, I was reading your wonderful e-zine Slate. It is so much on the cutting edge of cyber culture that I usually spend half of my work day reading it just to keep up with the changing world of Microsoft products. . .

Bill: Say, I heard that you were selling pirated copied of Windows 98.

Mr. A: No sir!

Bill: Oh, now be honest.

Mr. A: Okay, I guess that I do sell a few of those. How could I lie to you, Mr. Gates? What do you want from me?

Bill: I just wanted to congratulate you.

Mr. A: Really?

Bill: Yes. I think it's wonderful that you're making such innovations in technology that you can make Windows 98 on your own. I think it's something everyone in the world ought to have, and I thank you for helping me in getting it out in your corner of the globe. It's going to make the world a better place to live in, you know.

Mr. A: Yes, sir.

Bill: Really, that's what I'm in it for - the humanitarian side of it all. Do you think that I would create such a revolutionary product as Windows 98 and then keep people who need it from getting it at as a cheap a price as possible? This is not about profits. It's about making a new world. Who needs money?

Mr. A: Certainly not you, sir.

Bill: My point exactly. Oh well, I keep on insisting that Microsoft take back my salary and spend it on libraries and a computer for every home, but my loyal workers won't let allow it. "We love you too much!" they say. I'm a pushover and I really can't say no to anyone, so I take the money. You tell me, what else can I do? I do have lots of plans to give my money away, eventually, somewhere down the line. Did you see that Barbara Walters profile of me? She sure is some kind of hard-nosed professional investigative journalist.

Mr. A: Her work is required reading for schoolchildren here in Japan.

Bill: Well, I just wanted to tell you to keep up the good work. And oh, before I forget - if you have any friends who want to start producing pirate copies of Windows 98 on their own, tell them to give me a call. I'm giving out grants for operations like that. Gotta make sure everyone has it, after all!

Mr. A: You sure are a grade A humanitarian, Mr. Gates.

Bill: Oh! I almost forgot -- you need to send me an email so that I can get in contact with you later this month. I'll get you some copies of Windows 2000 that you can sell before we release it here. Whatever I can do to help the cause, you just let me know, ok? Well, I've gotta run. I have to work on the plans for the splitting of Microsoft into several different companies. Nothing worse than a monopoly, I always say. Toodle-oo!

Mr. A: Goodbye, Mr. Gates.

Isn't that amazing? What's really amazing is that it's TRUE! It seems that we've all be a little bit hard on Mr. Gates. I, for one, think that we should all be ashamed of ourselves. We ought to each send him an apology by email through our Microsoft Explorer accounts, which happen to be pre-installed on all of our computers. Well, at least doing the right thing will be easy, in this case. What good ideas Mr. Gates has. And to think, this story is not only TRUE, but completely verifiable given that I heard it directly from my brother-in-law through his friend's contact in Japan, who read the translation of the transcript himself. We are TRULY in the middle of an information revolution, thanks to Bill Gates!

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