I was watching a rerun of an old movie recently, but to me it was new. The Out-of-Towners came out before I was born, and I never saw it, although I was well aware of it. The twists and turns were hilarious, but sometimes painful to watch because there are so many parallels to real-life travel these days.

In so many ways, we still depend on big systems to move us around, from place to place. It also made an impression on me because that kind of grit and determination still exists today.

Mishaps and Bad Luck

It’s a movie about the mishaps of a couple from small-town Ohio flying to New York City for the husband to interview for a big job. It’s one disaster after another. Foggy weather forces the plane to reroute to Boston. They miss the train to NYC. When they do find another train from another station, they arrive in NYC only to find the city plagued by strikes: public transportation, sanitation workers, and the taxi cabs.

In their rush to get around, they forget to call ahead to their hotel, and end up losing their reservation to other people who were also stranded in NYC. They are led astray by a con man who pretended to want to help, and instead he robs them at gunpoint.

Many Opportunities to Give up

The couple wanders around for hours, cold, wet, and hungry. When they finally find a church, they think at last they will have a chance to pray for their circumstances to change. But it turns out that the church is being rented for a commercial, and their prayers will have to wait until hours later, at 2PM.

Eventually, they make it back to the hotel to get the room of someone who just checked out, but sadly, there’s still no warm food to be had. Their luggage has also arrived by that point, but the key is in the wallet that the con man stole from them earlier. Each time they got close to a goal, bad luck intervened, and they lost hope again that he would make that 9AM interview.

Grit in Today’s Economy

Eventually, he does manage to show up on time for the interview. In his own words, “Any old shmuck can show up at 10AM,” but the expectation is for 9AM…no matter what. I won’t give away what happens in the end, but it’s worth watching.

And this is what brings me to the gig economy and the sharing economy. For all the stories about how bad Uber itself and the drivers are, there are plenty more about respectable people who choose that avenue to earn extra income.

Plenty of people double as Uber drivers; in their other life, they own businesses, or otherwise make a good living. Some are people who have fallen on hard times and need some supplemental income. Here’s a sample of the other types of drivers I’ve had:

  • Someone who owns a trucking business
  • An accountant studying for his CPA
  • A technology manager
  • Owner of a business that services printers and copiers
  • A club promoter
  • A systems engineer
  • A real estate investor
  • A captain who delivers boats up and down the east coast

Reality TV makes it seem as if everything in life should come easily. Grit is something that a lot of people don’t seem to have, but I do encounter it regularly enough to have faith that there’s hope for humanity.