I heard Sydney Pollack tell this story once many years ago, to a struggling first-time filmmaker who was railing against the studio system that he had yet to even enter into.
It is really a parable, and has stuck with me through the years, as I've seen variations of this mind-set play out in various situations, in Hollywood, and among friends and even family.
Only years later did I come to know that it was a famous comedy routine by an old master: Danny Thomas!
There's this traveling salesman who gets stuck one night on a lonely country road with a flat tire and no jack. So he starts walking toward a service station about a mile away, and as he walks, he talks to himself. "How much can he charge me for renting a jack?" he thinks. "One dollar, maybe two. But it's the middle of the night, so maybe there's an after-hours fee. Probably another five dollars. If he's anything like my brother-in-law, he'll figure I got no place else to go for the jack, so he's cornered the market and has me at his mercy. Ten dollars more."
He goes on walking and thinking, and the price and the anger keep rising. Finally, he gets to the service station and is greeted cheerfully by the owner: "What can I do for you, sir?" But the salesman will have none of it. "You got the nerve to talk to me, you robber," he says. "You can take your stinkin' jack and shove it . ."
Sometimes we all struggle with keeping a positive attitude towards the events in our life. But since we have no control over what happens, but only the ability to reflect and improve on our attitude towards what happens, the Jack Story is a great piece of wisdom to carry with you in the trunk of your car in case you get a flat tire!