Is that who I think it is? I thought, before snapping this photo.
"Is that who I think it is?" I thought as I was walking out of the Paramount. CF

On my way out of Hamilton on Valentine's Day, I saw someone leaving the theater ahead of me.


The back of his head looked familiar.


Eons ago, I worked at the Cheesecake Factory in Bellevue, and one time Bill Gates came in. He wasn't in my section, but I saw him. All I remember is the way he looked as he was hunched over a plate of popcorn shrimp.

That was back before cell phones had cameras in them.


I thought about posting these pictures the morning after I saw Hamilton, but a Slog post that was just, basically, "Hey look, a rich person!" seemed stupid. And lazy. So I called the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's press line to ask if it were possible to get Bill's reaction to the show.


Looks like he enjoyed it, right? He's smiling. He must have liked it. Or maybe he was smiling because Hamilton was dead and the show was over and he finally got to walk outside and get some fresh air? Who knows.

Anyway, the Gates Foundation's press line went to voicemail. The pre-recorded message said, "Please note that his number is only for journalists and bloggers," so I'm pretty sure I had the right number. Sure, they're worried about malaria and other more important things than musicals at the Gates Foundation, but it was the only thing I could think of.


When I didn't get a return phone call, I sent an email.

In my note, I said that I had just seen Hamilton and that "as I walked out I saw Bill Gates walking out ahead of me. I wanted to catch up to him and ask him for his review of the show, or just a general comment about whatever he might want to say about the show, but I wasn’t able to. Is there any way you could obtain a comment for me to use?"

And immediately I got a reply email!


But it was an auto-reply:


These poor PR staffers must get asked for money a lot.

It seemed extremely far-fetched that Gates or any of his public-relations employees would have time to answer my request for an opinion of a musical, but it on the other hand it was a musical about the man who created the financial systems that still power the nation's economy—an economy that has been good to Gates.

That was weeks ago. No reply.

Feelings of despair and uselessness welled up in me—a common feeling among journalists and bloggers. Especially theater bloggers. I had all these photos of Bill Gates on my phone, and no excuse to use them.

Then, two days ago, I got an email from "Mr. Bill Gates." (!)

It came with the subject line "Hello." (!!!)

My god, Bill Gates? Writing me a personal email? To tell me what he thought of a play?

I opened the email.



What do you think? Legit? Should I click on that link? Do you really think Bill Gates has "no much time to live"? Do you think he was really writing to me "from hospital computer"?


JK. Of course I did not click on the link, nor write back. Mr. Bill Gates is happy and hale these days—I just saw him at the Paramount! Smiling! If I'd been a better journalist, I would have, you know, talked to him when I had the chance, instead of standing in front of that Hamilton truck taking stupid selfies.


Once I turned around, he was gone.