The Case Manager (7)

I have fired my Case Manager.

All this time I thought he was offering his services out of the goodness of his heart, out of his desire to see a poor gal like me finally get a date and perhaps, by some miracle, a second date.

But no. Imagine my surprise when I was reviewing the charges on my credit card bill and noticed a $59.99 charge from Must be some kind of mistake, I thought. I’ll call them on Monday and have them reverse the charges.

“Oh, are you not satisfied with your experience?” the woman on the other end asked when I told her I wanted the charge removed.

“Well, I haven’t really used the service for three and a half years now.” That was when I stopped searching through pictures, stopped reading profiles, stopped sending emails and winking clear across cyberspace. Three and a half years ago. “I mean, I don’t use the service in the traditional sense. I mostly just hang around with Jim. You know, Jim? I’m sure you’ve heard of him– Case Manager Extraordinaire. I spend time with him and he coaches me on being a better person and getting a date and all that. But he doesn’t charge me. So this $59.99 charge must be some sort of mistake.”

Silence. And more silence.

“Or… maybe it’s not? Please don’t tell me you’ve been billing me $59.99 every month for the last three years. I didn’t sign up for that. I clearly remember paying for six months. Just six months. Plus, I check my statements on a fairly regular basis and I’ve never seen a charge from you guys before this.”

“Well, actually, yes. You’ve been a member with us for nearly four years.”

“At $59.99 a month?!”

“No. It’s $59.99 for three months. You’ve been billed every three months.”

“What?” How could it be? Did my random credit card statement scanning really happen only when there wasn’t a $59.99 charge from Or, did I just scan right over it because it wasn’t some ungodly huge amount that made me wonder where it came from?

The latter, I’m thinking. I charge everything to my REI credit card and get 1% back, which results in a hefty REI dividend each year. So, I have a lot of charges on my statement each month. Still, though.

“So, can I get the charge taken off?” If so, I could save $59.99 of the approximate… $720 I’VE BEEN CHARGED OVER THE LAST THREE YEARS!

“And, while I have you on the phone, can I please close my account for forever and ever?”

When I saw Jim a few days later, I told him the story. I told him I was officially done with Therefore, he was fired. I begged him to continue his services with me, not via but just as a private consultant. A pro bono private consultant.

He agreed.

But that $59.99 must have gotten him thinking. Tonight he texted me and asked if I wanted to play racquetball in the morning. A typical text I get from him every few days. Of course I wanted to play.

Thank you for your interest in the program. Please hold for confirmation.

And then, a few minutes later: Your request for court number one has been approved for 5:00 and 6:00 a.m. tomorrow morning.

Not the typical response. A little on the formal side. Business-like. So I texted back: Moving on to Racquetball Case Management now? You charging $59.99 every three months?

Pricing has been modified since the last time you made a payment. It’s been simplified to ‘a buck a point.’ Pretty self-explanatory, isn’t it?

Well, for that price, I can reserve my own damn court. I don’t need a Case Manager and I don’t need a Racquetball Case Manager either!



I went to a movie recently called The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. In the movie Walter tries online dating with eHarmony and has trouble with his account. When he calls for assistance, he establishes a relationship with the eHarmony employee, who then helps him refine his profile and work on meeting the girl of his dreams. It reminded me so much of my online dating Case Manager idea that I couldn’t help but wonder if a) they stole my concept or b) these online dating services really do have the equivalent of Case Managers?


Just for the record (because I know some of my readers are/have been confused by my Case Manager series):

As far as I know, does not have Case Managers.

As far as I know, I am not as hopeless as I make myself sound and would not be a candidate for Case Management services if such services existed.

I stopped using three and half years ago when I met an amazing man named Jim. We’ve been hanging out ever since.

I’m not too terribly upset about the $720. However much I’ve invested in has been totally worth it.

The Case Manager (6)

We gonna ski Bangs Canyon or the Ribbon or something?

I texted back. Bangs, as in down the slickrock slab? Ribbon, as in down the slickrock slab?

Nah, just casual doinking around on the flats. Skiing on top of the desert is pretty cool.

I texted back. Yeah sounds good. But do I have to get out of bed?


The Case Manager (5)

After fleeing from the camper, sure that I had failed my “potential as a camping girlfriend” evaluation by my Case Manager (The Case Manager (4)), I was given another opportunity to prove myself.

It was the next weekend when my Case Manager texted me from the camper. Sure would be nice if some hot chick would bring me some Mexican food.


The Case Manager (4)

I gathered up my bags—one with clothes, one with outer wear, one with toiletries—and reached for the camper door.

“Well, thanks for coming out,” said my Case Manager.

“You’re welcome. Thanks for inviting me.”

“Yeah, well, we do this from time to time. For our special cases. We’ll bring them out here, under the guise of camping, and just do some observation and analysis. Try to figure out what the problem is, why you haven’t had any luck on”

“Oh.” My mind raced with everything I did over the last two days. I didn’t realize he was studying me. It hadn’t occurred to me that he might be on duty this whole time. “So, what kind of things were you looking for?”

“Oh, you know, like whether you have a good attitude, an appreciation for being out here in nature, how you share common space, how well you cook, if you were courteous and good to the man.”

Good to the man? My case manager? I thought he was working for me.

I let him win at cribbage. Six games. That should get me some points.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABut, really, my mind was stuck on that word cook. I hadn’t cooked anything. I would never cook in a camper. I’d be afraid of explosions or carbon monoxide poisoning or something. Cook? I hadn’t even brought any food along. It hadn’t occurred to me. I was a guest, wasn’t I? Wasn’t my Case Manager supposed to take care of me the whole weekend?

“Well, what if I fail?”

“Baby, if you fail, I fail—since you’re my special project—and I don’t want that to happen. So, I’ll go back, compile the data, let you know.”

“What if it’s bad? Would you drop me from your caseload?” My heart raced, my shoulder felt sweaty, all of a sudden, where the straps from my three bags came together, hanging there too long now.

I had to get out, had to be on my way. I was getting anxious, panicky. What if my Case Manager dumped me? I couldn’t bear the thought. He’d been taking such good care of me for so long, years now. I wrestled with the camper door and took the big step down to the stable, solid Earth.

“Like I said, ‘If you fail, I fail…’” was the last thing I heard before getting into my vehicle and heading back home.

The Case Manager (3)

I have my ballot here & will drop it off on the way home if you can give me some input on how to vote.

Can I ever! I text back. And I list the school board candidates for whom he should vote, the ones endorsed by the teachers’ union, my union.


Can you meet me somewhere? We need to review your profile. Plus, I have a confession to make.

I show up and we order a couple of beers at the bar. There are three TVs in front of me, all sports. I ask the bartender, “Hey, any chance we can watch the election results?” Then I realize it’s 8:05, not exactly news time, and I tell him never mind.

He goes to his phone, pokes around on it, and returns. “You interested in the school board outcome?” I nod. “Williams and Parrish won. Mikolai’s ahead, but that one’s not final yet.”

I thank the bartender and turn to Jim. “Jim! You did it! You helped the good guys win!”

“Yeah, about that. Something you should know. I was on the news today. And I kind of said you were my girlfriend.”

“What? Isn’t that unethical? I’m your client!”

Jim is my Case Manager. He was assigned to me over three years ago when it was determined that I was “a special case.”

“It was an accident. I was dropping my ballot off, bending over to put it in the slot, and when I stood up, there she was. A news woman with a camera. She asked if she could interview me and I said, ‘No, no, really you don’t want to. I don’t know anything about this election.’ And she was, like, ‘Perfect! Exactly who we’re looking for.’ I don’t know what she asked me, but I ended up saying something about my girlfriend was a teacher and she told me who to vote for.”

“What? Jim! I’d turn you in if you weren’t such a good Case Manager. Ask for my money back. Maybe even sue for damages.”

“What kind of damages?”

“Well, were you wearing that goofy hat?” My eyes wander up to the striped touk, askew on his head, a seam–which most people would put in the back–running a crooked line from above his left eyebrow to somewhere above his head on the right side, disappearing in the dim light of the bar. The ear flaps–one slightly in front of the right ear, the other behind the left ear–turned up, looking like duck tails, both ears exposed, I suppose, since he was inside out of the November chill.

“Of course I was wearing my hat. And my Carharts, too. I just came from work. Sheez, I was probably the first Carhart-wearing voter she’d ever seen.”

“Yeah, and now the whole world is going to think that I was out “convincing” all the Carhart guys to vote my way in exchange for being able to say I was their girlfriend. That’s the damages I’m talking about.”

“Oh, calm down, I didn’t use your name.”

“You didn’t?”

“No. I just said ‘my girlfriend told me how to vote.'”

“Oh. So that’s no big deal.”

“I know, that’s what I’m saying.”



“Except you’ve been walking around with that touk on, the same touk you wore on TV, where you said, in front of the whole world, that your girlfriend was a teacher and she told you how to vote.”

“Yeah, so?”

“So there’s a good chunk of people in this town against the union, against our candidates. I’ll bet someone’s following you. That hat you’re wearing, you with your ‘girlfriend,’ the union brat girlfriend… We’re probably going to get shot on our way out of here.”

My beer is gone, but Jim’s is still full.

“Drink up! Our guys won. And we need to leave. Actually, I think it’d be better to leave without you. It could be dangerous for you to be seen with a teacher. A teacher who’s telling everyone how to vote.”

I gather up my purse and the touk, tell Jim to be safe, to be vigilant on his way home, and turn to go. It’s hard to leave him. A voting man is an attractive man.

Outside, hurrying down the sidewalk, I hear Jim come up behind me. “Wait! I’m going with you. You shouldn’t be out here on your own. Plus, we need to get to your profile. Change your career listing. At least temporarily, at least until this election stuff dies down.”

I tuck into the crook of his arm, where it’s all warm and safe and no one can easily identify me, and he walks me to my car.

Ask for my money back? Sue my Case Manager? That’s crazy thinking. He’s the best Case Manager I could ever ask for.

The Case Manager (2)

It was Friday afternoon when my daughter told me her choir was singing The National Anthem at the football game. The football game that night.

Just after her announcement, my Case Manager happened to call.

“Whoa!” he said. “I wasn’t expecting you to answer. Shouldn’t you be out on a date or something? It’s Friday night!”

“Well, technically, it’s Friday afternoon.”

“Depends on your time frame, I guess.”

“You mean time zone?”

“Yah, whatever.”

“Hey, speaking of time, good timing on your call. I was wondering if you could find me a date for tonight. I need to go to the football game. And I’m going to El Tapatio beforehand to drink a margarita.”

“Kind of last-minute, don’t you think?”

“Yes, but can’t you just do some sort of search in your system? Just enter loves football and drinks alcohol and you should come up with a long list of potential dates for me. I don’t really care who it is, just send him over to El Tapatio. I’ll be there about 6:00. Oh, I have to leave at 6:50 though and walk to the game in time to hear the national anthem.”

“This is a little unorthodox, not exactly in my job description, not how  works.”

“Yah, but you’re my Case Manager. Listen, it’s no big deal if you can’t find anyone. I’m perfectly capable of drinking margaritas on my own. I have to go now. I’ll be at El Tapatio.”

Since there wasn’t much time, I took the liberty of ordering two margs on the rocks with salt and a combinaOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAtion platter appetizer. I ate chips and salsa and sipped my water, but, as time passed and no one was showing up, I figured I better get busy on my margarita. I also had a taste of the combination platter. Just a taste. A few nachos, half of the quesadilla, and a couple of the chimichanga bites.

Just when I was losing all hope of getting a football loving, alcohol drinking date for the night, or any date, for that matter, in walked my Case Manager.

“I came to tell you I couldn’t find anyone,” he said as he pulled out a chair and had a seat. “I had a few possibilities, but then they looked at your profile and decided they were busy for the evening.”

“Oh, well, since you’re here, do you want to drink that margarita and help me eat this? You don’t mind if I double-dip, do you?”


“I don’t have to. Double-dip, that is. It’s just easier. It makes sense to me. Also, do you think it’s okay to just go ahead and order like this when I’m expecting a blind date? Is that a little too much? Because I’m thinking he’d understand, being that I have to leave in, um, fifteen minutes.”

“The ordering part is fine. Maybe just don’t eat half of it and get the whole table slopped up before he even shows up.”

“Good advice. I’ll try to remember that if I ever get a date. Hey, I have to go soon. Do you want to stay here and finish this up?”

“What? No. I’m coming with you. I’m the stand-in.”

“My date? No! You’re my Case Manager. I don’t want to lose you as a Case Manager.”

The kindest and most devoted Case Manager ever, I thought.



“Hi! Yes, it’s Jim. Jim from”

“Oh, hey! Good timing.”

“Yes, well, as you know, I’m your Case Manager. I’m just calling to see how things are going.”

“Really? Wow. You guys over there at work this late?”

“Well, a Case Manager like me does. I have a lot of you women to keep track of, you know. I do what I can to make sure you gals get plenty of action.”

“Well, I’m glad you called.”

“Yah, well, listen. I was just reviewing your file and noticed you haven’t been getting many hits. Any hits. No winks. No messages in the inbox. Nothing happening for quite some time now.”

“Well, my toilet’s clogged up.”

“I don’t see how that has anything to do with this.”

“Really? How do you expect me to get a date when my toilet doesn’t work? How could I have a man over if there was no place to… you know…?”

“Mmhmm. But back to the point of my call this evening. I was thinking we should get together. Take a look at your profile. Analyze it. See what’s turning the guys away.”

“Okay. How about tomorrow?”

“Mmm, I don’t know. I’m awfully busy…”

“But, you’re my Case Manager.”

“Okay, tomorrow works.”

“My place?”


“And maybe you could take a look at my toilet while you’re here.”

This post was written for the Weekly Writing Challenge: Dialogue. “Begin a post with a scene that includes dialogue.”