Imagine waking up one morning and discovering that society has shifted 180 degrees. Education is now frowned upon. Dropouts are favored by employers. Unskilled laborers now command the highest salaries, while doctors and lawyers earn minimum wage. In this new society, CEO’s take public transportation to work. Clerks and pizza delivery guys? Why they ride in limos, of course.
In a romantic comic fantasy entitled “Life Swap,” an advertising VP who has it all, and more, awakens to a world for which he is unprepared. Drake Skeffington, partner at the ad agency, The Skeffington Group, with his father, Cole, lives the good life. He has known only wealth for all of his 35 years. He rubs elbows with the pampered, chosen people. Drake’s father encourages him to associate only with those who are able to advance his career and social status, and instructs him to dismiss, ignore and snub the manual laborers of the world. Drake is slightly resistant to these demands, but always seems to yield to the powerful head of the Skeffington clan.
Each morning when he arrives for work, Drake buys a paper from Packard Brown, a newsstand vendor in his building. The wise old vendor, who has taken a liking to the young ad man, confronts him one day about his attitude toward the less educated, the unchosen, the blue collar crowd. Packard explains to him that wealth and status are superficial. When you strip them away, you’re left with just the inner spirit, and the playing field has been leveled. “Take the time to look within, and you’ll see that each of us is really no different than the other.” Drake, intrigued by the comment, shares Packard’s remarks with his father, who immediately dismisses them as the ranting of a failed social climber.
Unbeknownst to his parents, however, Drake has been dating Carla Victorine, a bartender at the local country club. He makes her promise to keep their relationship a secret since it is forbidden for club members to fraternize with the hired help, not to mention the reaction from his parents, who would never approve. When Carla tires of their clandestine romance, she abruptly quits her job, and tells all. But she soon learns that her social status, not club policy, is the real reason Drake has been hiding their relationship. Enter the sage old newspaper vendor…on assignment, we now learn…from his heavenly employer. Finally convinced that all his efforts to reform Drake have failed, he decides it is now time to teach the young blueblood a lesson he will never forget.
When Drake awakens the next morning, he finds himself, not in his plush condo, but in a low-income sub-basement apartment. His closet, normally filled with $1,500 suits, has been replaced by a wardrobe from the local dollar store. And his new Porsche has been magically transformed into a 1984 Ford Thunderbird with 250,000 miles. When he arrives at work, his showplace office overlooking the Chicago lakefront is now a tiny cubicle. In this new society, employers covet brawn, not brain. Janitors, elevator operators, and window washers are attired in three-piece suits, while executives wear service uniforms.
Drake is beside himself. What has happened? He assumes it is just a bad dream that he will soon awaken from. This new social structure takes full effect when Drake finds that he is frequently dismissed, ignored and snubbed by the same people, who yesterday, would have been his victims. The taste of rejection is bitter, he discovers. He soon vows to repent, to be less judgmental, and to appreciate the inner man. Having witnessed Drake’s metamorphosis, the newsstand vendor returns society to its current, imperfect state.
Meet the new Drake Skeffington…humanitarian. The End. Well, not quite. You see, Drake’s attempts to become more tolerant and loving are met with resistance. His overtures are interpreted as insincere and patronizing. When he re-encounters the pretty bartender, he is now determined to pursue a lasting relationship, but she too is skeptical. How can someone so overbearing and condescending suddenly become caring and compassionate? Drake must now prove his sincerity. To do so, for the first time in his life, he is forced to stand up to his father, the consummate bigot. It isn’t until then that his parents are fully able to comprehend their son’s conviction, as well as their own misguided thinking. Drake not only helps opens the eyes of others, but manages to win the hand of the woman he loves.