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I Was A 20-Something Phone Psychic

A few years ago, I got a job as a phone psychic.

Yes, really.

It was an alarmingly easy job to procure. A friend of a friend was doing it and she gave me her boss’s number. I called, gave my name and information, and I was hired. Simple as that. No resumé, no interview to speak of, no background check, zilch. The next day, I simply had to dial in to the number I was given and incoming calls were transferred to my home line. I was e-mailed a script, which I was to use as a guide for conducting readings via the telephone and I say without any notion of hyperbole that this script was unadulterated shit. I immediately scrapped it and went with my instincts.

I went into this endeavor with the understanding that most of the people calling would be relatively gullible. If they’ve actually taken the time to call that bloody number, knowing the cost, they’re likely to be brain twins with a dust mite. This turned out to be correct, with a few exceptions, but the overall experience of being a phone psychic was not what I had expected.

The bulk of callers were not people who wanted any sort of spiritual guidance or eerie predictions, they were people of a much simpler sort – lonely people. Excessively lonely people. People lonely enough to pay $4/minute to talk to a stranger on the phone. Considering that genuine psychiatric counseling costs something in the area of $1-$4/minute, we must also assume that these people aren’t exactly what one would call erudite.

The vast majority of my time became consumed with resolving these bizarre domestic disputes involving things such as “that damned toilet he’s got out there on the lawn f’rall the neighbors ta see” and playing out for my ears was the most perplexingly stereotypical aural visage of White Trash America. They would call me when their husbands got blowjobs from the daughter of “that colored man in the blue trailer down yonder” and inexplicably expect that I could wave some vestigial ESP wand to mend this situation.

All in all, it got depressing. I opted to hang on to the job longer than I would have liked, mostly because it served as great material for my playwrighting, but also because…well, how many jobs are there during which one feels let down when they DON’T hear the phrase “he just likes her more ‘cuz she gots more teeth than I does.”? (Verbatim, I swear.)

Eventually, however, I became desensitized and my pity waned. I became resentful that my time was ravenously consumed by the needs of people who - I’m not even kidding - named more than one of their offspring “Bubbah”. More than one Bubbah in one trailer. Can you even imagine?
Between holding their hands through the rigors of post-hunting season ennui, patronizing their alarmist fears that “that 9/11 thing is the start of the end times,” their concerns in regards to “them aliens” and their disturbingly strange fixation on dogs, I eventually cracked. What follows is a rough transcript of my final session as a phone psychic:

M-A: Thank you for calling the ____________________ Psychic Line. My name is Marc-Anthony. [I’ve deleted the standard gimmick in which I ask for detailed personal information in a prescribed attempt to keep them on longer than the “free three minutes!” The caller shall go by the nomenclature of “Charlene” hereafter, for the sake of anonymity. Her real name is Margaret Denton and she lives at 167 Meadow Lane in Penwan, Washington.]

CHARLENE: I was wund’rin if ye could tell me ‘bout my husband.

M-A: What about your husband would you like to know?

CHARLENE: If he skankin’ around on me.

M-A: You would like to know if your husband is “skankin’ around”?

CHARLENE: Skankin’ around on me, yeah.

M-A: By “skankin’,” do you mean unfaithful?

CHARLENE: No, skankin’.

M-A: I’m afraid that I’m not entirely sure what skankin’ means, then; in this context.

CHARLENE: Y’know, skankin’. With hussies.

M-A: So, cheating? Is he cheating on you?


M-A: So, you want to know if your husband has been unfaithful.

CHARLENE: No, I think he been skankin’.

M-A: Right. What makes you think that aforementioned skankin’ took place?

CHARLENE: I said I think he been skankin’.

M-A: Yes, I think we’re clear on the suspicion of skankin’. What I would like to know is what made you think that skankin’ was indeed happening?

CHARLENE: Okay, see – he got this job down at the Piggly Wiggly and that’s where all the skanks is.

M-A: I see. And you think that your husband might be receptive to the advances of these skanks?

CHARLENE: I think he skankin’ around.

M-A: At the Piggly Wiggly.


M-A: Has he been coming home late from work?

CHARLENE: He has! Yes, he has! Late almost every night.

M-A: And does he seem happier after work than you feel someone should after working a full day?

CHARLENE: That’s damn right! You good.

M-A: Thank you. Another question: Does your husband also show you a bit more affection than usual, but seem to require less in terms of conjugal interaction?

CHARLENE: He’s nicer. What?

M-A: Sorry. Is your husband nicer to you, but also not want as much ass?

CHARLENE: (laughs) You funny. Yeah, he got all sweet and shit but he don’t want any.

M-A: I see. I think, Charlene, that we should really consult the cards on this one.


M-A: Yes, the Tarot cards.

CHARLENE: Oh, I can’t do that. I been saved by Jesus.

M-A: Oh, it’s perfectly fine. These are Jesus Tarot cards.


M-A: The Beatitude Deck. Jesus approved.

CHARLENE: That in the Bible?

M-A: Sure is. The Gospel of Enoch. Chapter 22, verse 15.


M-A: Okay, Charlene – I am going to shuffle this deck and… say a silent Lord’s Prayer. While I’m doing that, I want you to focus on an image of your husband, and any skanks with whom he may be involved.

CHARLENE: Okay, I’m thinking.

(with some paper, M-A makes vague shuffling sounds into the phone.)

M-A: The first card that I see is the Fishers of Men card.


M-A: Yes. This card indicates someone who seeks out other people, perhaps in what we might label a “booty call”.

CHARLENE: Them skanks!

M-A: Yes, this could very well be referring to the skanks in question. The next card is the Water and Wine card. Uh-oh, Charlene…Does your husband drink?

CHARLENE: Yes! He drinks too much. I tell him to quit, but no.

M-A: Well, this card is directly on top of the Fishers of Men card…I’m wondering if his drinking is at all related to those skanks.

CHARLENE: He out drinkin’ with them skanks!

M-A: Could be, could be. But let’s see what the next card says…


M-A: Oh boy… It’s the Eye of the Needle card.

CHARLENE: What’s that mean.

M-A: This may be a strange question, Charlene, but I need you to answer honestly.

CHARLENE: Alright. I will.

M-A: Does your husband have contact with any camels?


M-A: Camels.

CHARLENE: Like the animal?

M-A: I don’t know, the cards are just telling me that camels are involved.

CHARLENE: Oh my God! Oh my Jesus! He smokes Marlboro, but I saw in his truck ash tray, I saw just yesterday, there was Camel butts in there! Holy Jesus!

M-A: I think Jesus and the cards have given you your answer, Charlene. He has, indeed, been skankin’ around.

CHARLENE: That sonofabitch.

M-A: I’m sorry, Charlene.

CHARLENE: Well, I’m glad you wuz here cuz it just goes to prove that no sin can hide from the eyes of the Lord.

M-A: That’s right.


M-A: Well, Jesus’s work is done. I think that you should go forth, divorce your husband, go back to school and become an anthropologist. Thank you for calling the _________________ Psychic Line and have a nice tomorrow.


( 35 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 6th, 2003 01:44 pm (UTC)

oh man, too much.

"Oh, it’s perfectly fine. These are Jesus Tarot cards"
Oct. 6th, 2003 05:24 pm (UTC)
Well, I had to entertain myself somehow...


Oct. 6th, 2003 02:34 pm (UTC)

i'm f*cking tearing here...AT WORK!

MA ure gonna make me loose my job...

Oct. 6th, 2003 02:37 pm (UTC)
That'smy goal! I want you all fired!

Oct. 6th, 2003 06:03 pm (UTC)
u evil man u...
Oct. 6th, 2003 02:40 pm (UTC)
You really like fucking around with people on the phone, don't you? I remember that one you did with the long-distance phone company...

Good job, man, good job :)
Oct. 6th, 2003 05:26 pm (UTC)
Thank ya, thank ya. There's just something about the phone that makes me think "People need a break from reality".

Oct. 6th, 2003 04:02 pm (UTC)
hahah oh man is your life exciting to read about.
Oct. 6th, 2003 05:28 pm (UTC)
Exciting? No, no, no... Wait till I bring hang gliders into the mix.

(Deleted comment)
Oct. 7th, 2003 05:00 am (UTC)
Ooooooo, a Catholic Jew...I can only imagine the fun you must have had. Please, please tell me you worked "kosher" and "body of Christ" into the same sentence.
Oct. 7th, 2003 06:00 am (UTC)
Not exactly, but I did mention a few times that my strict Jewish parents would get upset when I took the wine and wafer during communion. One or the other was fine, but both the blood and body of Christ was a bit too much like Milk and a Burger.
Oct. 7th, 2003 08:55 am (UTC)
Oct. 6th, 2003 05:44 pm (UTC)
I worked as a telemarketer for a year and a half where I raised money for the archdiocese of Milwaukee. Collecting money for the catholic church made it hard to live with myself, but I did have a little bit of fun. For one, I used the telephone name of Jake Dern, which made me a nice Jewish boy who had converted to Catholocism. Jake tried studying in seminary to become a priest but was convinced after a short time that god's plan for him was to raise money over the phone for the proliferation of the Catholic church.

I had my fun as a telemarketer, but damn man... I wish I had a tenth of your ability to improvise.

Oct. 6th, 2003 08:11 pm (UTC)
jsesus christ superstar.

MA, you are truely the most wonderful human being in existance. make me laugh everyday, sir.
Oct. 7th, 2003 05:01 am (UTC)
...is that an order?

Oct. 7th, 2003 06:38 am (UTC)
The "Jesus-approved" tarot deck? That's priceless. Priceless. And tarots against the rules, but calling a psychic in the first place is "jes' fine" I'm sure. :-)

You may truly be gifted with the ability for knowing camels were involved. The Eye of the Needle card... I suppose it could go to prove the argument that the devil can quote scripture just as easily as the "righteous."

Oct. 7th, 2003 08:57 am (UTC)
I bet I could out-quote the devil. That pussy.

Oct. 7th, 2003 12:25 pm (UTC)
Holy Sacrosant
Hello there Puppet dude. This, naturally, was saweet. I do miss this sort of reading material. The camel butts in the ashtray/clinching evidence--couldn't be more perfect. Hope all is well with you and yours.
www.blurty.com/users/jenkoplitz (not entertaining like your offerings, just my everyday pissing and moaning.)
Oct. 8th, 2003 08:47 am (UTC)
nice m-a. i drive past this house with a toilet in the back yard on my way to work. hehe. it's just...there. anywho, way to hoodwink the women who worry about their husbands "skankin" at the piggly wiggly. ~alexis
Oct. 8th, 2003 10:07 am (UTC)
I'm still boggling about the fact that "Piggly Wiggly" is an actual chain store. I mean, Jesus people!

Oct. 11th, 2003 02:17 pm (UTC)
dude, that was too awesome for words.
Oct. 11th, 2003 03:43 pm (UTC)
Well, Charlene deserves at least half of the credit.


Oct. 11th, 2003 03:51 pm (UTC)
oh indeed she does. I applaud the both of you.
Oct. 11th, 2003 03:54 pm (UTC)
Oct. 17th, 2003 07:46 pm (UTC)
oh man. i still dont know you. but i heart your writings. just writing to say im a fan.-Nia
Oct. 17th, 2003 07:56 pm (UTC)
*blush* Thanks.

Oct. 21st, 2003 10:03 am (UTC)
Oh, Christ up a tree, I thought I was the only one!!!
I've been a phone psychic too...for about a week, which was as long as I could stick it. These wretched people believed the tripe I was reading to them. After a few calls I, too, scrapped the fake-Tarot script and made it up off the top of my head...it was so depressing how they'd keep calling me and telling me I knew their innermost secrets when in fact it was patently obvious that a) they suspected their spouses and b) this suspicion was generally substantiated. I never thought I'd come across anyone else who admitted to having been a phone psychic...
Oct. 21st, 2003 10:09 am (UTC)
Re: Oh, Christ up a tree, I thought I was the only one!!!
That was always what it was, wasn't it? Cheating spouses. Very little else. Every once in a while, I would get someone wanting lottery numbers or advice about snagging their dream mate. It was depressing.

Oct. 21st, 2003 10:23 am (UTC)
Re: Oh, Christ up a tree, I thought I was the only one!!!
I had one once who wanted career advice. From a phone psychic. I told her she should look into the customer service industry, or possibly join the Peace Corps.

I found it unbelievably depressing. The worst part was the script. I mean, at least gimme a Tarot deck and let me do my own damn readings, inaccurate as they would be. Don't pretend you're doing a useless reading; DO the useless reading. And yet people continue to call these lines.
Oct. 21st, 2003 10:25 am (UTC)
Re: Oh, Christ up a tree, I thought I was the only one!!!
Agreed. I wound up buying a "Druid Animal Oracle" deck and just using that. I also got that insipid "Big Book of Birthdays" thing and used that. It was ridiculous.
Oct. 21st, 2003 10:24 am (UTC)
Re: Oh, Christ up a tree, I thought I was the only one!!!
...Might I add you to my friends list? Your writing is superb.
Oct. 21st, 2003 10:26 am (UTC)
Re: Oh, Christ up a tree, I thought I was the only one!!!
I'd be honored.

Jan. 31st, 2005 03:41 pm (UTC)
That's bloody damn brilliant. I adored every delicious word.
Jan. 31st, 2005 07:48 pm (UTC)
Thanks muchly, m'dear.
Oct. 4th, 2005 05:46 pm (UTC)

I randomly went to have a look at his one. :)

Kick ass. A pro Phycic and I get my calls for free :)

( 35 comments — Leave a comment )


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Marc-Anthony Macon

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