At some point, long ago (and before I became a mother), I read an article about the new house Bill Gates and his wife were building in Washington state.
I have little memory of where or when I read the piece, but there was one detail that has always stuck with me.
The story explained that each room in the house had some sort of special sensor that could tell which family member was in the room. Each person in the family and visiting was able to select temperature and lighting preferences. Guests were given special sensors to wear too. As I remember, if more than one person was in the room, there was a pre-set and programmed hierarchy that decided how the thermostat and lighting would be set.
Bill Gates was on the top of the hierarchy.
Oh, to be Bill Gates.
That story got stuck somewhere in the back of my head.
I’ve been a mother now for almost 15 years. In the last few months, the story of Bill Gates and the temperature and lighting of his home has made its way back to the surface of my brain.
To be frank, Taylor Swift forced the issue.
As you may have noticed, there are a lot of gadgets in this world that are supposed to bring simplicity and beauty into our lives. We all know and bemoan the fact that sometimes our techno-creature comforts have the exact opposite effect.
The music playing in the car I’m driving would be an example of electronic widgets and doodads of convenience bringing multiple complications and controversy into my life.
Here what would happen before my Bill Gates epiphany: My daughters and I would get into the car. Within nano-seconds, daughter no. 1 would have four wires attached between various sources and Taylor Swift would be singing her heart out for one and all to hear.
Daughter no. 2 would object to whatever Taylor Swift song was playing and an argument would erupt. This exact scene has progressed for months.
One day when I just couldn’t take the bickering anymore, I quieted the natives safely buckled in my car. I unplugged all musical apparati and began to tell them the story of Bill Gates and the temperature in his home.
They looked at me with blank stares and no response.
“I am Bill Gates,” I said. “From this day forward when I am in the room, I will control the sound. I am Bill Gates and never forget it.”
With Bill Gates’ help, however, I have brought peace and tranquility into what had become a rather tricky situation.
It’s not quite a 66,000 square-foot lakeside palatial estate overlooking Seattle, suited to my exact and every specification, but it’s a step in the right direction.
I get to listen to the music I want to listen to when I want to little to it, and a little James Taylor never hurt anybody. Yes, being Bill Gates is a beautiful thing.
Not only do I get to listen to the music I want, my newfound tactic settles all arguments and disagreements.
“But, Mom, why can’t I XXXXXXX (fill in the blank)?”
And the answer is simple, “Because I am Bill Gates.”