Time to Trade Up!
Jeff arrives at People’s Life Lot, ready to trade in his old life for something better. Lou, the salesman, offers him a chance to “trade up” to one of three new models: the major league baseball player, the corporate executive, or the regular Joe. After realizing that the ballplayer and executive don’t really fit his needs, Jeff asks “What’s so special about the regular Joe?” After listing qualities like peace, patience, love, kindness, community, and others, Jeff is convinced that the regular Joe must be a high priced model, only to find that the cost has already been paid. Plays like a comedy, with a Twilight Zone feel.
Setting: A “car lot” setting, with actors in different costumes, standing still as mannequins.
- Lou (salesperson)
- Professional Athlete
- Regular Joe
- 3 or 4 Extras dressed in costumes representing different occupations
Note: There are only two speaking roles, with lots of opportunity for non-speaking parts. If enough actors aren’t available, mannequins or cardboard cutouts could represent the lives.
Stage is decorated to look like a car lot. Over the loud speaker, we hear “Service Department Line One, Service Department Line One!” JEFF enters and looks around at the various MODELS spread out across one side of the stage – a CHEF, a ROCK STAR, a CONSTRUCTION WORKER, etc. He kicks the pedestal of one, checks the price tag of another, examines the guitar of the rock star. LOU McGUFFIN, the salesperson, enters from side steps.
LOU: That one’s always been one of our best sellers. Of course, this might be the last year we have it on our lot. I think it’s being phased out in favor of the Rap Star 3000. (she puts out her hand to shake.) Lou McGuffin. Pleased to meet you. I couldn’t help but notice that you look like a man of integrity and great wisdom.
JEFF: Uh, thanks. But I …
LOU: And your name is….?
JEFF: Jeff… Jeff Banks.
LOU: So, Jeff Banks, what brings you to PEOPLES LIFE LOT on a beautiful day like today?
JEFF: Well, I was just sorta browsing, I guess.
LOU: Come on Mr. Banks. Shoot straight with me here. I’ve been selling lives for quite a few years, and I can tell by the look in your eye, you’re doing more than just browsing.
JEFF: I suppose I am.
LOU: Anything catch your eye?
JEFF: Nothing yet. I haven’t really made up my mind what sort of model I’m looking for. I just feel like it’s time to consider a trade in.
LOU: You mean, “trade UP.” It’s time to trade up! Let me guess – lately, you’ve been feeling a bit sluggish. Sort of worn down. Your current model lacks the pep and energy you used to enjoy.
JEFF: Yes. I guess that’s accurate.
LOU: Don’t fear, Mr. Banks. Your current life – despite the high mileage and worn tread will bring quite a nice trade value. We can check your blue book value, but I’m getting ahead of myself, now, aren’t I?
JEFF: Well, I’m not sure if –
LOU: Let’s stop right there. You’re not in the market for one of these used lives. Let’s go in and see our newest models – they’re just off the assembly line, primed, filled, and ready to move.
He escorts Jeff to the other side of the stage, where three spot lights dramatically illuminate a sparkling trio of NEW MODELS: The Professional Athlete, The Executive, and The Regular Joe.
JEFF: Wow. I’ve never been inside your showroom before. I gotta say, this is pretty impressive.
LOU: We aim to please. So what do you say we take a closer look?
LOU (cont’d): Mr. Banks. Brace yourself. This Life is quite extraordinary. A unique one to be sure. Not just anybody can be a Professional Baseball Player. Making it to the Majors is a one in a million shot, but the payoff is incredible. Your new life will bring you an assortment of enviable traits – rippling muscles, blazing speed, achievement and notoriety – Mr. Banks, your name will be in the record books, kids will want your autograph, beautiful women will crave your affection. You’ll hit the home run that clinches Game Seven of the World Series – you’ll have your face on a Wheaties box. You’ll be famous.
JEFF: Hmm. Sounds great. But aren’t those careers kinda short? I was looking for something that will last for a while.
LOU: Say no more, Mr. Banks. I have just the thing. Right over here, it’s another extraordinary life, but this one will go 40, 50 years or more. Another long shot for the average individual, the Executive has all the trappings of success – a portfolio of incredible diversity, liquidity, and – oh, let’s just say, the guy is loaded. You’ll be wearing the finest tailored suits, you’ll go to work in your own luxury limousine, you’ll eat in the best restaurants, conference in a posh office with an able staff at your beck and call. You’ll have a beautiful wife and a membership at “the Club.” But more important than all of that, Mr. Banks, the Executive brings you influence and power. You’ll have captains of industry in the palm of your hand, economic indicators will adjust on your command, politicians will court you, competitors will fear you.
JEFF: That sounds pretty cool, I suppose…. But doesn’t that life come with a lot of stress. I’m not real good at handling stress. And, to be honest, I don’t really like noodling around with numbers all that much.
LOU: Mr. Banks, let’s be honest right here, right now. (pause) What would it take to put you in a new life today?
JEFF: Wow. That’s a tough question. It’s just that – well, my current life is so lackluster; I’m just so tired all the time; I have this sense that I should be more satisfied. I’m feeling trapped by all the things I’m expected to do. My boss wants me to be one place, my wife wants me to be somewhere else, my friends expect me to do things with them — my mind can’t seem to handle all the contradictions. Each day I end up doing the same old thing, and it feels like I’m getting nowhere fast. I just want to have a sense of purpose. I just want to have some peace. It doesn’t need to be great – I don’t need to be rich or famous or powerful – I just want to have … a better life.
LOU: Well, Mr. Banks. This is it.
JEFF: This one? What’s so special about this one?
LOU: This one is special because it has exactly the things you are looking for – it’s a life filled with meaning, freedom, and energy. For some reason, a lot of folks don’t bother checking out this model, but for the ones that do, they really seem to love it. In fact, in all the years we’ve offered a model like this one, we’ve never had a single one brought back for a trade in.
JEFF: That’s impressive.
LOU: This one has some other interesting features. He seems to get along exceptionally well with others, his relationships are strong and real, he has a circle of friends that seem to love and support him no matter what happens. And, most remarkable of all, he goes to bed at night with a sense of peace and purpose, unlike anything we’ve ever seen in any other model.
JEFF: Come on, now, there’s got to be a catch.
LOU: That’s what I thought at first too, but with all the incredible positives in this life, there seems to be very little downside. In fact, rumor has it that this model can last forever, and even increase in value as it gets older.
JEFF: No way!
LOU: I kid you not, Mr. Banks. Read for yourself. (He hands him a brochure.)
JEFF: It just seems too good to be true. (counting off the features on his fingers) Peace, energy, meaning, grace, freedom, forgiveness, purpose, friends, love, joy, patience, kindness, … eternal life. Well, I got it. I know what it is then – it’s got to be the price. There’s no way I could ever afford it. So, level with me – how much does this life cost?
LOU: For you, Mr. Banks. It doesn’t cost a thing. Someone else has already paid the price.