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From indytony: Overheard (and Adapted) – A Writing Exercise

In his post today, indytony offered another interesting read. Go check it out and try your hand at this. I thought about the idea of how to adapt an overheard word, and I recalled this incident at a car dealership:

To set the scene: a young woman and her dad have brought their car into the service area. The dad and technician were in negotiation about the cost.

How much will it cost?

A diagnostic will be $240.

Two hundred forty dollars?


Is that how much it will cost to fix?

[Secret eye roll from technician] No, sir. That is the cost for the diagnostic.

Why so much?

We charge by the hour.

Can you tell me how much the repair will cost?

[Secret eye roll from technician] Sir, I have to have the vehicle diagnosed in order to determine the problem before I can provide a complete estimate.

What if I just trade it in?

So, what you are saying is, instead of getting a diagnostic to find out what’s wrong, you want to trade it for a new model?

Well, that or how can I get a cheaper diagnostic?

[Secret eye roll from technician] I can do a minimal diagnostic which would be $120  so you can get an idea of what’s wrong,and then you can decide whether you would like to move forward with a trade.



I want to trade it in.

[Audible sigh from technician after turning to motion to a salesperson] Great! Let’s get you over to the sales floor. Once you decide, your salesman will let you know the trade amount on your car, m’kay?

[Dad and daughter get up without another word to the technician and walk with salesperson to the showroom]

It was painful to watch. I think these are the kinds of conversations that catch our ears more than others. Often the best and most positive conversations happen without words…


  1. indytony January 6, 2013 2:58 am

    Good work.

    I would have walked away that technician with the rolling eyes in a heartbeat. I mean $240 for a diagnostic. What is it? A Lear jet?

    Thanks for the plug.

    • AR Neal January 8, 2013 12:13 am

      Close! It was an Audi A6, I think. Love your blog–and enjoy sharing it!

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