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January 1, 2005

Confessions of an Ex-Phone Psychic: Part 1 of 2

Filed under: Main — Ryan Jones @ 12:00 am

Early last year I was in the market for a part-time job. It was pre-9/11, but the economy was already headed south. I was, (And still am), a self-employed web designer. Business was getting thin, and I was looking for ways to make a few extra bucks. I was discussing my plight with an online friend who was in a similar situation. We were joking about odd jobs we could do when she directed me to an ad on Guru.com. It went something like this:

Kanie Tarot Readers, Spiritual Advisors, Astrologers, etc. Work at Home
We are looking for tarot readers, spiritual advisors, astrologers, etc needed for our psychic line. This is a work at home position. Must have psychic ability. Must have good communication skills and the desire to help others. For more information, you can contact me at [email protected]

I laughed and surfed on.

Then I thought about what a kick it would be to say I had been a psychic, and I went back. I looked at the ad some more. I focused on the line that read ?Must have psychic ability?. Hmmm, definitely a stumbling point. I?ve been called many things, but never psychic. Throwing good sense to the wind, I decided to go ahead and make contact anyway, if for no other reason than to see how they tested that sort of thing.

Though the ad said nothing about it, it turned out I was applying to work for Ms. Cleo?s Psychic Network. That would be the incense-burning, West-Indian-talking lady who slapped down tarot cards and advice at a breakneck pace on infomercials all over late-night TV.

I sent out an email asking some questions and received what may be the fastest personalized response in the history of email. It wasn?t a form letter, but a bunch of specific answers to my questions, and a request for my phone number. Being in a rather playful mood, I sent it to them. Within two minutes I was on the phone with Rachel, the lady who was to become my ?Psychic Manager?, a.k.a. my boss.

Rachel was very polite, if in a slightly business tone sort of way. Very professional, and didn?t give off any of the flaky vibe I had been expecting. It felt more like I was talking to a real-estate agent than a person who traded in spirits in misdirected hope. After some quick questions about my background, my age, and whether or not I wanted to do this full time, she asked me for my fax number. I gave it to her and she faxed me a sheath of papers. The papers listed the rules of the business (no call-waiting on your phone, no explicit discussion of sex, no putting someone on hold). There was also one that described a typical call.

At the heart of each conversation are the 78 cards of the tarot deck. A “psychic” puts a caller at ease, collects their name, number, email, mailing address, and anything else they?ll give us, and then deals out a specific number of cards in varying positions. (There are as many ways to do a tarot card reading as there are people doing them. As you shall see, my personal style varied from orthodox to downright silly.) You then read the cards and try to make some sort of impact on the caller.

The card meanings themselves are insanely generic, monumentally unspecific, and usually hopeful. For example, “The Empress” card carries the following explanation: “A young fertile female. Can also represent material gifts. Maybe a mother having a baby or fertility in your financial situation. Gifts and money in progress. A good money card, or a female influence.” A lot of ground covered here, a wealth of possibilities. Easy to adapt it to your life, especially when you?re desperate enough to be paying $4.99 a minute to hear this reading in the first place.

Money and sex are two fairly consistent threads throughout the cards. Either a lack of, or an addiction to for which most experts will recommend to find a health center, if you need one this page has more information. Sometimes both. There is an occasional negative card, but for the most part they are optimistic; wealth and happiness are the most common upshot. According to the cards, we are all a bunch of success stories just waiting to happen.

So with all of this information in hand, I started my life as a part-time phone psychic. I purchased a deck of tarot cards off of Amazon.com ( This Deck, if you?re interested.) I had a 1-800 number to call when I wanted to work. I called it, entered some pin codes, and then I hung up. Pretty soon the phone would do it?s special three chirp ring to let me know I had a call, and that was when the fun really began.

To be continued…

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