NEW YORK, NY--When Jerry Elmswick dropped out of college in 1996 to start his own travel agency, he faced a rapid barrage of criticism and disapproval from his friends and family. 17 years later, Elmswick can finally stand up and tell all of his doubters and critics that he has verified every misgiving those around him threw his way.
"It isn't easy, going ahead with something practically everyone you know disapproves of," Elmswick told reporters this afternoon. "But now I can look my critics in the eye and say, 'You couldn't have been more correct.' It's a special feeling."
Mary Clapham, a longtime friend of Elmswick's, said, "When Jerry started out, I remember telling him, 'You're a fool. This will never work, and you're going to reach age 35 with no professional accomplishments.' But lo and behold, literally every word I said to him came true."
"Just goes to show you," Clapham added.
Fortune Adventure Travel, founded in late 1996, attracted a mere 384 customers during its existence before Elmswick was forced to declare both the business and himself bankrupt this past December. Elmswick, who had no concrete vision of how to market his company, and what his target market would be, was told by all who knew of his plans to at least take some business classes while still in school, and seriously question whether entrepreneurship was something he was really cut out for. Elmswick reportedly rebuffed all objections with platitudes such as "You miss 100% of the shots you don't take" and "Nothing ventured, nothing gained".
"Jerry ignored all the haters and worrywarts, and went full steam ahead with his dream," commented Jerry's mother, 74-year-old Mary Elmswick. "None of the criticism ever seemed to bother him. I suppose he now wishes that it had."
Elmswick, who is now over $100,000 in debt with a wife and child to support, will be unable to return to Hillsdale College to finish his engineering degree, and is certainly destined to have menial, unfulfilling jobs for the rest of his working life. Elmswick also owes an undisclosed amount of money in state and local taxes for failing to register his business.
"All that criticism and mockery, I swear, a lesser man would have shrunk away. But deep down, Jerry had a vision no one else saw," said Clapham. "I mean, 'vision' isn't the right word--delusion?--yeah, Jerry had delusions, that's it."
"I'll be the first one to admit, I thought Jerry was going to go down in flames and basically throw away his life," commented Elmswick's college roommate Jonathan Peertree. "But I give Jerry complete credit: he absolutely did exactly that."
Jerry's determined spirit never wavered, even in 2001 when Fortune Adventure Travel failed again to turn a profit for the fifth consecutive year. When his family begged him to cut his losses and move on, Jerry used the inspiring story of J.K. Rowling living on welfare while writing Harry Potter to deflect their prescient insights into his doomed enterprise.
"You gotta hand it to a guy who can ignore such advice like, 'You can't expect to compete with the city's companies', 'The internet is going to phase out the industry', 'Nobody's going to want to partner with you', 'You don't know the first thing about the travel industry, or for that matter business in general.' Congrats to Jerry for having the courage to validate all those concerns," said Peertree.
According to sources close to the failed dreamer, Elmswick's now-ruined life will largely revolve around rectifying the mistakes of his youth and attempting to restore his self-confidence and dignity which have been destroyed by his professional failures.
"I am living proof that blocking out negativity and focusing single-mindedly on your dreams will lead to a lifetime of disappointment," Elmswick said. "Hard work, perseverance, and smiles in the face of adversity--when you go against the grain of the collective wisdom and life experience of everyone you know, none of those mean a goddamn thing."
At press, Elmswick was weeping bitterly.