Now and then everyone has weird dreams, even Bill Gates.
He dreamed he had died…and gone to heaven. (Yes, that would be a surprise to everyone.) However, heaven wasn’t what he’d envisioned, or even read about in the Economist. For one thing, it wasn’t awesome and well lit. Instead there was an amorphously very large area full of people, all waiting to get into heaven proper. Millions upon millions of people, waiting with nothing to do but look at each other, converse, and meditate. Those without relevant skills found this difficult, including Bill Gates, but unlike software there were no other options.
Occasionally a being with wings would make its way through the throng, carrying a clipboard. After Bill had waited several weeks, one of the beings came to him. His face, instead of being celestial, was scarred by acne. He was wearing a T-shirt, dark blue with gold lettering that spelled TEAM PETER. The effect was holographic but vague, as if it had been a good idea when somebody brought it up in a meeting.
“Hello.” The voice was bored. It could have been the voice of any typical customer service representative. “My name is Gabriel and I will be your guide, or more specifically, induction coordinator.” Bill was about to raise a question, but he was cut off – “Not the Archangel Gabriel. You don’t see any stupid horn do you? I was a Gabriel from Philadelphia. Now, your name – last name first, unless you’re Chinese.” The tone was peremptory.
“Gates, Bill.” Gabriel began flipping pages on his clipboard. While he fumbled, Bill recovered his usual assertive mode: “What is this? Why are all these people here? I’ve been waiting weeks! Where’s Saint Peter?”
Without answering, Gabriel continued his search. Finally he said, “Ah – your record of Earthly Works. Impressive! Things are looking pearly for Mr. Gates!” Gabriel did indeed look pleased, but his tone changed again, “However, it shows here that you were CEO of a very large software company. There are very few of you here, you know.” Looking directly upward, Gabriel sighed, “There must be a Reason.”
Gabriel continued, “You see all these people, Mr. Gates? Do you think Peter can meet them all personally? I think not.”
“I guess not,” Bill replied.
“Peter decided it was time to sub-contract. We call it Team Peter Enterprises, and I am a franchisee. We never see Peter, of course, he just sets policy.” Gabriel studied a paper on the clipboard. “Considering your history, it’s surprising but your credentials are in order. With your background, I suspect you will get a plum job assignment.”
Somewhat stunned at the thought of working in Heaven, Bill stammered, “Job assignment?”
Gabriel looked at Bill as if he were a puppy that had just pooped on the carpet. “Of course! What did you think? That you’d sit on your ass sipping ambrosia all day? Heaven is a big operation. As in the memo from Saint Ayn, everyone has to pull their own weight!” With that, Gabriel put a triplicate form on top of the clipboard and pulling a pencil from under his right wing motioned to Bill. “Sign here.” After signing, Gabriel pulled out the middle copy and handed it to Bill. “Take this and proceed to the induction center for Gate 309b. Look for your occupational specialist, his name is Abraham.” Bill started to open his mouth, but Gabriel waved him off, “Not that Abraham.”
No sooner had Gabriel departed than Bill found himself already standing before Gate 309b. He decided the speed of transport was a rich feature of Heaven. However, it was another six hours before he met with Abraham. His frustration must’ve shown on his face. Even before he could speak, Abraham said, “Obviously Heaven is centuries behind in its data processing.” He pointed to the paper in Bill’s hand, “We’re still using paper. We have a Directive from on High, of course. Have had it forever – to streamline the processing, but the rate of dying is unprecedented.”
Abraham put a finger to his head, as if thinking or perhaps receiving a message. “Ah. Which brings me to why you are here at this heavenly gate. You are to supervise the new Heavenly Data Processing Center or HDPC. It will be the largest computing facility outside creation, much bigger than anything operated by Google. Whatever you can imagine – a billion computer server farm, fully fault-less, instant communications, completely distributed – at your service as you see fit, the Works.”
Bill jumped up and down for excitement, though up and down are not fully sanctioned in Heaven. “Awesome! What a great job! This is really Heaven!!”
Abraham said, “The center is nearly finished. Would you like to see it now?” As Bill nodded, he was already there. He blinked. He rubbed his eyes. The glare from millions of computer screens faced him like an endless brilliant cloud, but that wasn’t what assaulted his eyes. Every single one of the computers was unmistakably an Apple.
“Not one PC,” he croaked. The thought of spending eternity tending to Apple products filled him with dread. “What about Windows?”
“You are forgetting something,” said Abraham.
Bill was afraid to ask, “What?”
“This is Heaven, where everything must run smoothly – heavenly. Just as specified to Saint Steven. If you want a data center using PCs and Windows, well…you can GO TO HELL!”
This was a dream that Bill did not even relate to Melinda.
[Adapted from an HTML version by Omri Weisman]