I worked as a telephone psychic & tarot reader
Spoiler: I’m not psychic.
In 2015 I moved back to America after a decade of living abroad, off and on. When I was abroad one of the biggest selling points on my resume was simply that I was a native speaker of English. In America that obviously didn’t count for much. I needed to figure out a new line of work and I stumbled around for a year trying to figure out what I could do. While I was looking for new work, I also had it in my head that it would be great if I could figure out how to get money without all that messy “labor” business. It was from this standpoint that I gave being a telephone psychic a try.
I had seen ads recruiting psychics for the Psychic Power Network on Craigslist and I was intrigued. I knew that I wasn’t a natural bullshit artist but I had a plan to compensate--tarot. I could just give people tarot card reading over the phone and let them take what meaning they wanted from the cards. There are 78 cards in a tarot deck, and each card has two meanings; the meaning changes if the card is upside down. Again though, I had a plan. I didn’t even buy a tarot deck. Instead I printed off my own deck with both meanings of each card written right on the card.
I contacted the Psychic Power Network and got a job interview which consisted of me giving a tarot card reading to a company bureaucrat over the phone. And like that, I was in. In case you missed the sub headline--I am not psychic. Sure I didn’t last long as a telephone psychic but still, this company was more than willing to hire someone who never for a second thought he was psychic. If you take nothing else away from this article, take that.
The way the system worked was that I would call a number to change my status to active and then I could start receiving calls for readings on my personal phone. Customers could choose me off a list of psychics on the web site. I believe my psychic name was something like Drake Faith.
I remember being ready to do my first tarot reading. I had learned how to do a Serenity Tarot reading, which used more cards than simpler readings, which I figured would be useful since it would take longer and therefore make me more money. My phone rang, the caller ID reading “Crazy Person Hotline” --in retrospect, the name I assigned this number probably did not prime me in a useful way when receiving calls. I told the caller I would do a tarot card reading for them, but I hadn’t finished explaining the first card when she cut me off to tell a rambling, incoherent story about how a fellow church goer wanted her to do evil things, like bake sweet potato pie. She didn’t want me to tell the future or give advice; this clearly elderly person just wanted someone to listen to her. I barely said anything at all.
I don’t think I ever completed a full tarot card reading, that’s just not what the women who called the hotline wanted--and they were all women. One caller told me that she had just bought a car, and it was really more than she could afford, but would now be a good time to quit her job to focus on her music? No, I told her, don’t do that. I know that’s not what she wanted to hear because she straight up told me that wasn’t what she wanted to hear. She also asked me if she should get back together with her ex, I said that “ex’s shouldn’t be next’s.” The little rhyme made that bad news go down a little easier, but it still wasn't what she wanted to be told.
This is why I didn’t make a good psychic. If I wanted to create some repeat customers I should have just told people what they wanted to hear. Since I have a conscience, I tried to give people good advice, like a fool. One woman called me to know if she asked a coworker out, would he say yes? I tried to encourage her to go for it, without guaranteeing that she would be successful. She wanted to know if she asked him out, would it lead to marriage? I floundered and told her it was hazy that far into the future. A successful phone psychic would have just told her yes.
I got called out once. A woman requested me but she didn’t want a tarot reading and didn’t have any questions to ask me. Without anything to go on I stammered like a kid who forgot the oral reports were due until she accused me of making it up as I went. Said she was going to call someone else. Presumably someone who was better at making things up as they went.
There was one caller I refused to give a reading to. A woman called me whose adult son had gone missing. She wanted to know where he was. I told her I mostly gave relationship advice, I couldn’t help her. She begged me to give her anything, a name, a number, something. I remained firm, no. I wasn’t going to give her some kind of false hope. She probably just called someone else after we spoke.
In the end, I would quit being a phone psychic not because of the callers, but the lack thereof. I would be active for hours without getting a call. Inevitably I would get a call while I was in the bathroom. I would then get a terse email from the Psychic Power Network about customer service and how I couldn’t be missing calls.
After some more floundering I would get a regular job working 40 hours a week. I still occasionally get one of these emails:
You were previously an Advisor for Psychic Power Network. We hope you are doing well in whatever you're doing. We are now paying daily or weekly! We do have a limited amount of space on our site for additional Advisors. But, if you are interested in reactivation, please send us an email so that we may consider you for a position. TY