Ignition Switch

Copyright 2001, by Samuel M. Post.
Note: If you’d like to produce this play, on stage or in a class — please email me and ask permission. It will be granted, but I’d really like to know about it.

Minneagpolis Review


BILL, a mechanic

MRS. GIMPLE, a customer


A garage.


MRS. GIMPLE: Sometimes it starts. Sometimes it doesn’t.

BILL: Do you hear a noise?


BILL: Nothing?

MRS. GIMPLE: When it starts there’s a noise.

BILL: And when it doesn’t, nothing?

MRS. GIMPLE: Sometimes there’s a click. A quiet click. Almost imperceptible.

BILL: loudly
Not a klklklkkllklklkkl?

MRS. GIMPLE: softly
Just clk.

BILL: Clk?

MRS. GIMPLE: That’s it. Then I just sit there, turning the key. It used to take just a few times. Now, it either starts right up, or takes forever.

BILL: Sounds like the switch.

MRS. GIMPLE: My wrist is sore.

She holds her wrist.

BILL: What’d you do to it?

MRS. GIMPLE: Tried to start the car – over and over and over.

BILL: Let me see that.

She holds out her wrist. He touches it.

Does that hurt?


BILL: That?

MRS. GIMPLE: A little.

He takes her wrist and in his hands.

BILL: That?


BILL: Probably carpel tunnel.

MRS. GIMPLE: You think?

BILL: Could be thorasic outlet syndrome.

MRS. GIMPLE: Isn’t that in the back?

BILL: It originates here.

He puts his finger on her vertebrae.

But you can feel it all the way down.

He slides his finger down her arm to the tip of her finger.

MRS. GIMPLE: It travels that far?

BILL: Pain is deceptive. The source can be anywhere.

Pause. He releases her hand.

It could be a bone spur.

MRS. GIMPLE: I hope not.

BILL: Have you had an X-ray?

MRS. GIMPLE: I haven’t been to the doctor. I was hoping my wrist would heal when my car got fixed.

BILL: Hard to say.


It’s the ignition switch. No doubt.

MRS. GIMPLE: I’d like you to fix it.

BILL: I can replace the steering column.

MRS. GIMPLE: You said it was the switch.

BILL: The switch is inside the steering column.

MRS. GIMPLE: You mean the steering wheel?

BILL: That’s part of it. Plus the column.

MRS. GIMPLE: You mean that whole thing that goes from the floor up to the steering wheel.

BILL: That’s it. The steering column.

MRS. GIMPLE: How big is the switch?

BILL: About like that.

He shows her with his index finger and thumb.

MRS. GIMPLE: Isn’t that a waste?

BILL: Only way they sell it.

MRS. GIMPLE: Then do it. When you’re finished, call my husband and tell him to pick it up.

BILL: I certainly will,


MRS. GIMPLE: Would you also give him this envelope?

BILL: Sure.

MRS. GIMPLE: It’s a grocery list. He’ll need to go to the store.

BILL: Do you need a ride,

MRS. GIMPLE? It’s part of our service. We could drop you by the grocery store if you like.

MRS. GIMPLE: I could use a ride to the airport.

BILL: Ah, you’re on a trip for the holiday. Good time to get the car fixed.

MRS. GIMPLE: I won’t be back.

BILL: Until when?


BILL: Huh?

MRS. GIMPLE: No. Be sure to give Dr. Gimple the list and the car.

BILL: Give him the grocery list and the car. That’s it?

MRS. GIMPLE: There’s one other thing you could tell him, if you don’t mind.

BILL: Not at all.

MRS. GIMPLE: Ever had anybody leave you?

BILL: Ask him that?

MRS. GIMPLE: No. I’m asking you that.

BILL: Excuse me?

MRS. GIMPLE: Ever been…abandoned?

BILL: Sort of. In fact, yes.

MRS. GIMPLE: Anything you wish you had said, but didn’t.

BILL: Actually, yes.

MRS. GIMPLE: Say that to Dr. Gimple.

BILL: Say that?

MRS. GIMPLE: To Dr. Gimple. If it’s good enough for you, it’s good enough for me.

BILL: He’ll think I’m a crackpot.

MRS. GIMPLE: Attribute it to me.

BILL: That’s gonna be hard.

MRS. GIMPLE: Do your best.

BILL: Wanna know what it is?


BILL: What I would have said. What I’m going to say to Dr. Gimple, and attribute to you.

MRS. GIMPLE: Would it make you feel better to tell me?

BILL: It’s what I’m going to tell him, for you.

MRS. GIMPLE: But you and I both know it’s meant for someone else. Her. The one who dumped you.

BILL: But in this context, you’re the one who’s going to be saying it!

MRS. GIMPLE: But you’re the one who meant to say it!

perhaps pleading

BILL: So you don’t want to know what, in effect, you’ll be telling him — what I’ll be telling Dr. Gimple you wanted me to tell him on your behalf?

MRS. GIMPLE: I don’t care.

BILL: Fine. But it reflects on you.

MRS. GIMPLE: Okay. Say it.

Taking her wrist

BILL: I’d say, “Listen – you thought it would be tough. It’s not. My memory is short. I forgot about you in five minutes.”

MRS. GIMPLE: Excellent.

BILL: no longer quoting himself
If it were true.

MRS. GIMPLE: You said that’s what you’d say.

BILL: And it is. But it’s a lie. The truth would be, “I still think about you.”

MRS. GIMPLE: Whatever feels right for you.

BILL: Don’t worry.

MRS. GIMPLE: You’ll fix the ignition switch.

BILL: Frankly, I’m more worried about your wrist. Sometimes these injuries don’t heal on their own.

MRS. GIMPLE: Maybe I will have it X-rayed.

BILL: Perhaps some support would help. A little brace.

MRS. GIMPLE: I wouldn’t wear that.

BILL: They make small ones.


BILL: They even have these special gloves that might make it feel better.

MRS. GIMPLE: That would look ridiculous.

BILL: You could wear it around the house.

MRS. GIMPLE: I’m leaving my house.

BILL: You’ll live somewhere.

MRS. GIMPLE: By the time I’m there, the wrist will be okay.

BILL: It will be okay if you come back. Your car will have a new switch.

MRS. GIMPLE: I won’t be back. So — you can give me a ride to the airport?

BILL: Yes ma’am.

MRS. GIMPLE: I’ll need to take my wrist with me.

He releases her hand.


8 Replies to “Ignition Switch”

  1. I am a 17 year old boy of color, residing in South Africa. I loved it and would like to make use of it at my school’s next performing arts. May I make use of it?

    Thank you in advance.

  2. This play is really great, and since at my school my teacher suggested that we find plays then act them out. So can I use this for my project? Also I will not claim this as my play.

  3. Was looking for a play for 2 people male and female and i found this one Ignition Switch. I am sending this message to as for your permission also if you will give me more information for as the purpose of the play and the character Mrs. Gimple. This play will be an assignment for a final grade for my drama class and your responce will get me extra points thanks so much.

    1. Melissa,

      You certainly have permission to use the play in your class. The play is about a woman who is in pain, trying to escape from it, and is comforted by an unlikely companion — her mechanic. It’s a comedy. Break a leg,


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