“Go get the newspaper!” I frown, and shake my head. Like I would ever do anything useful willingly.
“Do it yourself.” Grunting, I sigh and slump against the wall.
My cousin glances at me and tsks. “Well then, don’t just sit there!”
“Well, then, what am I supposed to do? Netscape didn’t reply yet.” I wrinkle my nose. I know I don’t have a computer science degree, but would it be so hard for them to at least say that? When you get turned down harshly, it hurts. But when you get turned down silently, it hurts even more. As if they dislike you so much they don’t even bother to tell you.
“Then go to their office and talk to them, dummy!” My cousin wrinkles her nose. I stare at her, raising my eyebrows exhaustedly even though I did nothing to tire me out. “Elon.” She stares at me, the way father used to. It means to do what they say or there’ll be consequences. Trust me, I know. Been there before. I shudder, and get up.
“Fine.” I purse my lips, and get my resumé. 24 years old, and still stuck in the house with no job. Well, I did have a job. Shoveling the dirt out from a boiler room. Too many risks, and not enough money. $18 an hour, only! (Around $30 today.) 30 minutes in there, and you’d get boiled to death.
The car rolls up to Netscape’s building and I take a deep breath. Talk to someone, and get a job or don’t. Easy.
I open the door hesitantly, but stepped in shoving my fears away. A man in a business suit made eye contact with me, and I walked towards him, my hand stuck out. “Hi, I’m Elon Musk. I applied for a job here-” The man interrupts me. Or actually, he does the exact opposite. He walks away.
I stand there confused, and feel my cheeks flush with shame. He’s probably busy. Doesn’t have time for me. It is 12:30, probably in a rush to eat his lunch.
I play with my resumé, acting like I have something to do while I wait for the attendant at the desk to come back. Another person in a suit passes by me, and nods, as if he knows me. I try to talk to him, but an assistant of his pops in, right before I introduced myself.
I pursed my lips, and glanced at my watch. 1:47. I should go home. I probably look stupid and awkward standing here and doing nothing.
My brain won the argument and I found myself driving back to my cousin’s. She glares at me as soon as I get back. “You didn’t get the job, did you?”
I shake my head. She rolls her eyes and starts yelling. “See, I told you! Did you even talk to them? Get out of here!” I frown, not actually knowing if I should.
Luckily, my brother pops in just in time. “What’s wrong?” He raises his eyebrows, looking at my cousin’s mad face.
“Kimbal, get out of this. None of your business.” My cousin pushes him away.
“Netscape rejected me.” I say bluntly. My little brother can’t make the rejection hurt more. Or maybe he can, but I’m willing to take my chances.
“Not true! You didn’t have the guts to talk to anyone! They just ignored you.”
Kimbal looks at me, and I can’t tell what he’s thinking. “Hey, remember that game you coded? What was it, Blaster?” He runs a hand through his hair.
“Blastar. And that was years ago, when I was 12 anyway. Why?” Kimbal grins when I ask why.
“You sold it for $500 then. If you code something now, how much would it sell for?” I shrug, but I feel the question repeating over and over in my head. “Well anyway, think about it.”
How much would it sell for? What would I code anyway? The internet’s more advanced now. I’d have to re-learn how to code, though. Hm…
- - -
I get up with a jolt, shaking the bed. My watch tells me it’s 3 in the morning, but I rub my eyes awake.
“Go get the newspaper.” That morning. Go get the newspaper. What if we didn’t have to? I feel a giddy smile on my face and rush to my brother's room.
I slap Kimbal awake. “Elon? Ow, that hurt.” He whines, touching his cheek and wincing.
“Oh my god, just get up!”
“I’ve got an idea. Now are you going to help me or not?” I glare at him with what I hope was an intense glare, and Kimbal nods sleepily.
“Why at…” Kimbal looks at my watch, “3 am in the morning? Just go away. Tell me tomorrow.”
I continue as if he never talked. “If we could get the New York Times on board with us, we could make some big bucks.” I look at my little brother again, this time explaining it. “If we could put all of the New York Times’ articles on one website, won’t that make things so much easier?” Kimbal looks surprised.
“Yes, but… where will you get the money to start? How will you even get to New York Times’ headquarters to talk to the CEO?” Kimbal continues with the questions but I stop him.
“Look, I’ll figure that out. Will you help?”
“I-” he looks for words, “Fine, yes. I will.”
A triumphant smile grows on my face, and Kimbal throws a pillow at me. “First, let me sleep!”
I roll my eyes, ready for an amazing day tomorrow.
Later that year:
“Elon?” My dad’s voice comes out crackly through the payphone I was using. I suck in a breath between my gritted teeth, and force them to separate.
“I need money. 25K to be exact.” I get straight to the point. I hear my dad cough in surprise from the other end of the line.
“What?” Dad sounds straight up angry. “And what would make you think I’d give you it? 25K is a lot. I thought you knew that.”
“I know. Kimbal and I are starting a company, Zip2! Also, you’re not giving me this money, you’re loaning it to me.” I inform him.
He snorts, “Why are you asking me? The bank rejected your offer?”
“No. Dad, I can do great things with this! Trust me! Just please, I need it right now.” I plead, not wanting to resort to worse methods.
“I know you can do great things, son. What makes you so sure that time is right now?” Dad raises a good question.
I hesitate before I answer, “It is, dad. I’ll give you the money back before the end of 1997. I promise.”
“Two years.” The line goes silent. I let him decide. “Two years. You know what? I’ll give you 30K, but in two years, 5% interest.”
I grunt, remembering what Kimbal said. I glance at him, and he raises his eyebrows, asking what happened.
I cover the speaking part of the phone. “30K, 5% interest.” Kimbal shakes his head immediately.
“Ask for 23K, no interest.” Kimbal waves at me dismissively.
I go against his orders, who is he to order me around anyway? I’m the elder! “20K. No interest.”
“20K, 1% interest.” Dad negotiates, trying to find a middle ground. I tell Kimbal and he hesitantly nods.
“Deal.” I can tell Dad smiles.
“I know you will do well, Elon. Tell Kimbal I warmly welcome you into the harsh world of business!”
I turn to Kimbal frowning. “Don’t you wish there was some easier way to transfer money?”
“No, not right now! Let’s party!” Kimbal smiles and hugs me.
“No, but, why is it so difficult?”
“Elon, come on! We just got the money, let’s celebrate!”
“PayBuddy. BuddyPay,” I mutter to myself.
Kimbal frowns. “What are you…?”
“EasyPay. No, that doesn’t sound right…” I scrunch up my eyes.
“PayPal?” Kimbal smiles. “Ha! I’m so smart!”
“PayPal.” I chuckle.
This was just a fun story I wanted to write! This is very roughly based on facts, I tried to make it as close to perfection as I can, sorry if I’m not right. Elon and Kimbal musk later sold the company Zip2 for $22 million. This set the ground for PayPal, and so on.