Grab the Magic Psychic Juice and gather round...
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From: Peter Langston <psl>
Date: Fri, 6 Sep 96 11:22:41 -0700
Subject: Grab the Magic Psychic Juice and gather round...
Forwarded-by: Keith Bostic <email@example.com>
Forwarded-by: firstname.lastname@example.org (Rick Sayre)
I Was a Telephone Psychic
by Harmon Leon
Just the other day, I was staring at an ad in the SF Weekly: "Psychics
Wanted for Phillip Michael-Thomas Psychic Reader Network."
Suddenly, I began to feel extraordinarily psychic. Coincidence? I think not.
In the 1980s, Phillip Michael-Thomas was the star of the #1 television
program "Miami Vice." Eventually, the show went off the air, and no one
heard from him for a while. But recently, Michael-Thomas re-emerged on TV
with his #1 telepathic hotline, "The Psychic Reader Network," leading a team
of 2,000 "qualified" professional clairvoyant advisors. How could I ignore
the opportunity to join this incredible man in his quest to help humanity?
I answered the ad. They mailed me an application. It consisted of the
following two items:
1) a form to sign, reading: "I, _____________, acknowledge that I have
experience as a psychic. I feel I can give genuine, accurate readings
to the public with confidence."
2) a paragraph asking about my "type of psychic experience," to which I
replied: "I am very psychic! I predict things. I read people's minds. I
have been a psychic for eight or nine years. In fact, I predict I will
get this job. Nine out of 10 times my predictions are correct."
Three days after sending my application, I get a phone call. "This is Josie
from the Psychic Readers Network!" Josie tells me my application checks out.
I'm told a few rules: never give callers your home phone number, and never
tell them to send you money.
Then I'm asked to give an impromptu psychic reading. Luckily, I'd seen the
infomercial a few nights earlier.
"Your name is Josie, correct?"
"What is your birthday?"
"Josie, I sense that you enjoy your work. Am I correct?"
"And what is it that you do?"
"I'm a psychic."
"Good. Josie, (I see a pen on my desk) I see a pen. A pen signing ...
paper. You're signing paper for A BRAND NEW CAR! You'll be getting a
brand new car."
Josie seems pleased with my psychic ability and pretty excited about the
car. She tells me I qualify to be a Phillip Michael-Thomas professional
psychic adviser. The entire interview/training session has lasted about ten
Callers will pay $3.95 a minute, of which I will receive 25 cents per
minute. Technically, I can make $15 an hour, plus a special bonus of 50
cents for getting callers to take advantage of valued discounts with the
"Phillip Michael-Thomas Psychic Membership Club."
Let the games begin
I'm ready to go to work. In honor of the occasion, I've christened myself
with a special psychic pseudonym -- THE GREAT SHAMU! The Great Shamu will
maintain an aura of great all-knowingness by referring to himself solely in
the third person. He has decided to premiere his newly found gift during the
Psychic Hotline Graveyard Shift--2:30 a.m. to 5:30 a.m.
With the help of some drunken friends ("Psychic Apprentices"), I begin my
descent into the realm of the paranormal. But first, a little preparation:
Necessary psychic gear
1 red bath towel -- to be worn as a turban
1 Hotel Front Desk Bell -- to ring at moments of great psychic
1 bottle of Tequila -- or "Magic Psychic Juice"
1 large bong -- for further inspiration
I punch my special pass-code into an 800 number. First, there's a recorded
message from a man with a whiny, effeminate voice. "Be sure to get those
call averages up! Everyone should be making 30-minute readings!"
Then my number is logged on the system. My phone immediately starts ringing.
It's creepy. Regardless, I pick up the phone with confidence.
"Psychic Hotline. This is the Great Shamu! Can you give me your name?"
(long pause) "Kevin."
He sounds like the saddest man on Earth.
"Kevin, the Great Shamu senses despair."
(Long pause) "Not happy."
I spend the next 45 minutes listening to the most intimate details of
Kevin's truly depressing life.
Gulp! I guess I'm not fully prepared for this. I was ready to entertain
Kevin with mysterious images of dark corridors, quicksand, and vultures
pecking out eyes. I thought I'd be talking to bored people looking for
stupid fun. But then I realize you have to be pretty desperate to call a
psychic hotline at 5:30 in the morning. I realize I'll be talking to a lot
of sad people--people who need positive reinforcement in their lives. I vow
to try this with my next caller. My psychic apprentices ply me with more
"Magic Psychic Juice." Bless them.
"The Great Shamu sees major success in your future. Have you had a
visitor from your past recently?"
"No, I haven't," sighs Cilenda.
"Oh, you soon will. I'm getting the number six. It's either six weeks
or six months. Yes. Six months. Something important will happen in six
months, and I believe you know what I'm talking about."
"Does it have to do with my finance?"
"Will me and my finance stay together?"
"I'm getting the image of a cake. Perhaps a reception or a party... Or,
a wedding reception! Now, you've been together for two years?"
"But in the second year you knew you were in love."
"I knew that. I'm getting the color blue. I believe it's an ocean. I
see the two of you on a beach. Frolicking in the water. Roasting
weenies on a fire."
This news leaves Cilenda contented. Ahhh, my first satisfied customer.
The phone calls keep coming. I increasingly find that it's helpful to make
vague predictions and leave plenty of room for interpretation. You can't go
wrong if you predict the mundane.
"I see something happening at a grocery store. Do you live in the
vicinity of a grocery store?"
"Yeah, about five miles," answers my caller, Rosemary.
"Yes I know. I'm seeing something happening with a shopping cart. Now,
something has happened recently at a grocery store. Can you tell me
what that was?"
"Interesting! That means something will happen."
[sound of kids screaming] "I have to go. My husband just walked in! The
kids are telling him I'm talking to my boyfriend."
Make stuff up
The more "Magic Psychic Juice" I imbibe, the clearer my predictions become,
and the clearer I see that I'm basically being paid to lie. This is more
ingenious than making random crank phone calls, because not only are the
victims calling you, they're paying $3.95 a minute to do so! Bring on more
"I'm sensing the color yellow. Yolanda, are you wearing yellow right
"I'm sorry. I'm getting a bit of blockage. I see something at the
workplace which is causing stress."
"I don't work."
"I know that. What I'm sensing is a new career occupation. It's
something to do with computers. Now, is this true?"
"Well, I'm interested in computer programming."
(Bingo!) "Okay, those are the computers I saw. But I'm reading a lot of
doubt and uncertainty."
"How much does this cost a minute, again?"
"See, there's the doubt. Now, I asked you earlier to write down a
question to ask me later. What is that question?"
"Will my husband divorce me?"
"It's funny that you ask that because I wrote down on a piece of
paper...THE SAME QUESTION!! I see compatibility. You have similar
similarities. There's a hobby you share, am I right!"
"It's a sport of a sort ... Is it archery?"
"But you do enjoy sports."
"I've got to go."
"Before you go, I see you'll be having a dream tonight involving a
dolphin. Just keep that in mind. I'll explain it to you next time you
Whoops, I spilt some "Magic Psychic Juice!" I'm starting to feel like KING
PSYCHIC of the free world! Time for a gutsy prediction:
"What's your name?"
"Ronny, I'm getting an image of an orange pig! Does this make sense to
"An orange pig?!"
"An orange pig!"
"There's not an orange pig in your room?"
Outright giggling doesn't help my psychic credibility. Since my caller is
unaffected by this and doesn't hang up, I use professional discretion and
terminate the call.
One last test of my amazing gift. I want to see if I can actually make my
next caller run around her home.
"There's a box in your room that's not ordinarily there, am I right
"This box ... I see yellow."
"How did you know that?"
"It's a yellow box."
"Oh my God!"
"Where's the box?"
"By the door."
"Can you get the box and put it on the table. Can you do that for me?"
"Okay, I've got it."
"Good, Cindy. There's an object in the box. Can you take that object
"Now put that object on the other side of the room. GO!"
(I hear the sound of phone being put down and Cindy stepping quickly
across the room.)
As I listen to her footsteps scrabble with what I imagine to be desperation
across her floor, I have a sudden psychic jolt about the present. I see a
desperate, pathetic society, and within it, I see myself, drunk, stoned,
be-toweled, torturing a tortured soul who is paying me for the privilege.
And suddenly, the thrill is gone. The thrill ... is gone.
Sure I'm disgusted by my behavior. Sure, I'm revulsed by my little foray
into flimflammery. I feel like a snake oil salesman. A jerk. I've misused my
But I'll tell you something--one last prediction from the Great Shamu: when
I get my $53 check in the mail for the night's work, I'm gonna spend the
entire thing on tequila. And I'm gonna like it.
© 1996 Peter Langston