I Was A Telephone Psychic

“Are you going to be pregnant in a few months? Is your man cheating on you? Maybe it’s time to return that ring! Need the answers today? Don’t worry, Miss Cleo is here for you. Call today, and at only $2.99 a minute, I’ll answer all of your questions and more!”

Surely you remember Miss Cleo. She had made a great deal of money before she went down for fraud. Before she left, she spawned an entire industry that thrives today, twenty years later. Google the word psychic, and you enter a whole subculture. This population consists of millions of people with questions and thousands of people willing to give them the answers by any means necessary.

Folks are lonely. Like Freddie Mercury told us in his song, some people just need someone to love. Like Nat King Cole told us, the greatest thing in life, is to love someone and be loved in return. Some people need escape. Some people need validation. Some people, are out of work and need to know when their going to get a job. A great deal of women need to know when that married man they’re having an affair with, is going to leave his family to be with them.

“He said he loves me. He’s telling the truth right?”

My initiation into this realm began years ago when I met a true psychic, fourteen years older than me. In minutes, without knowing me, she told me about two women that I was involved with, and described both situations with high detail. We had never met, how could this be possible? I was baffled, but most of all I was intrigued. I wanted her power for myself. I endeavored to study with her, and we became close friends. Entering her world, I became immersed in astrology, tarot cards, color meditation, runes, astral travel, and channeling. We didn’t do the palm reading thing. My channeling experiences are a story for another day. Perhaps you heard of Seth, a spirit who wrote a series of books through a woman named Jane Roberts. 

My psychic mentor and I tried to make money using our skill sets. We even opened a shop for about two months. I never felt comfortable adding a financial aspect to it all, but she was deep into that. Eventually, I accepted that there wasn’t enough consistent money to be made, and I turned in my pink slip. We stayed in touch, and years later she called me up insisting that I join her on staff with an excellent organization you may have heard of, California Psychics. She was making a killing with them and thought I could escape the retail jail I had been in for years. Coincidentally, I was at the end of my rope running a cash register forty hours a week. I was desperate, and looking for a way out. I was vulnerable to attack.

Still, I would have to be insane to leave my job and become a phone psychic right? I begged my job to give me part time hours, but they wouldn’t budge. Besides working, I was a full-time musician, and I needed control over my schedule. With music being my true calling, I had found my validation: I’ll be a telephone psychic so I can focus on my music full time. I’ll work around all my music projects. In time, music will take over, and I’ll get out of this nasty business. With the validation in tow, I decided to then leave it up to fate. In order to acquire a position, I would have to be tested by three bona fide psychics. Inevitably I would fail these tests. After all, I’m a pretty spiritual person, and I’ve had my moments helping people, but over the phone therapy with people I don’t even know? I expected to fail in the first round. What I didn’t understand at the time, was that I was entering a business. The people running psychic lines wanted to know if I could sling knowledge. In other words, could I talk to people in this situation and pull it off as a psychic? Was I believable? Could I represent their brand and generate income for both of us? Getting down to the crux, could I pull off the hustle? I was mildly surprised when I passed all three tests, and was informed that I indeed possessed “the Gift”.

The die being cast, I quit my job and signed on with California Psychics full time. I began a descent into my own darkness. I could validate my aggressive, rash, impulsive, and illogical action with astrology. What I did was textbook Aries.

I had much to learn about “the business.” First of all, you’re a brand within a brand. You have to sell yourself within the environment. People that arrive at the website are ready to go, but they still have to choose between up to thirty psychics at a time. I needed them to choose me. Factors included gender, race, age, my picture, and my profile describing my skill sets. At this early stage, I had decided that I was going to be my real self and try not to hustle people. I wasn’t trying to sell; I was just trying to make it work for myself. I was told early on that the site would watch me for repeat callers, people that come back to me time and time again. This would be considered in regards to my “growth within the company.” I didn’t take this seriously. I decided that if I could help somebody find an answer, then there was no need for us to continue to circle around an issue that had already been addressed. Unbeknownst to me, I was practicing bad business. I could pull it off, but California psychics needed me to BECOME the brand. The brand and the person had to be one and the same. We had ads on television 24/7, in addition to massive internet advertising. There was a staff of one hundred fifty. I quickly learned that to compete with the other psychics and to generate some scratch for myself, I would have to log heavy hours. The goal was still to develop a following. I dived in and discovered that in twenty-four hours of phone time, I made the same amount of money I made in forty hours running the cash register and making sales. It was two-dollars a minute to speak with me. I was still selling, just a very different product.

I never knew what would happen when the phone rang. After I did my scripted introduction, I would try and build a foundation to stand on. Most people were generous with information about their situation. In the pursuit of a satisfying conclusion, callers would try to help you achieve a successful consultation by giving you the answers they hoped to receive. Listening was paramount here. Once I had the basics of what we were going to talk about, I got into it. In the beginning, I tried to be very technical. I would ask for their birthday and then I would apply astrology and numerology. I would spend time explaining this stuff, which frustrated some people who wanted quick answers. Some people wouldn’t tell you anything and just came right out with a question. That was always a little scary. Hit and run vibe.

I remember this one girl who called me all the time, for just a minute at a time, with the same question: “Is Charles cheating on me right now?” I would end up talking to her about who Charles was, and what kind of person he was. Going deeper, we would discuss why she was involved with someone who would cheat on her. She deserved better. Other “highlights” that I recall are a man who just refused to accept that his wife had left him. He would call up very upset and want me to tell him that she was going to figure out she had made a mistake and would return to him. He asked me to consult spirit guides in regards to this. Another man would repeatedly call to try and reach his recently deceased wife. Painful stuff. One time a woman called who was a high-ranking police officer in the NYPD. She was in charge of two-hundred police officers, and the stress was breaking her. The strangest caller for me was a man who always called while he was on the train after work to discuss his racquetball game. Our conversations were often an hour or more, mostly about which racquet would be the best choice to use in his upcoming match. Somebody called me up for advice on buying a boat once. Still, as I often tell people, the most frequent calls were those woman in love with married men. Some required me to deliver a time-table. Will he move out next Thursday?

So it seems like my crazy world was functioning, right? I had logged in over five thousand minutes and over a hundred hours. I received a thousand dollar bonus for time logged in one week. It was then that I got served my notice, perhaps directed by a higher power of some sort.

“Dear Matt,

While we have appreciated your service with us, due to your low call statistics coupled with our evaluation results, it is in the best interests of both parties to discontinue our relationship.”

I was shocked. I was also on vacation. I called them to discuss it, and they said it was also due to negative testimonials that callers posted about me. Here’s a negative one:

“I had a career question for Matt, and it took a weird turn. He started answering questions that I didn’t ask, and only half answering those that I did ask. He answered my specific questions, but the answers were vague, or broad. I felt like he was guessing, or that the answers didn’t feel right. Afterward, I didn’t feel any better or further along than prior to my call.”

Here’s a more positive one:

“Matt’s voice came across as warm, spiritual, but intimidating. He’s very intellectual and can be hard to understand for someone not immersed in the metaphysical realms. He’s inspirational and speaks with wisdom. He does get sidetracked at times answering questions because he has a strong tendency to be a bit preachy.”

Time to cut my losses right? Nah. I had moved upstate and was low on funds. I had learned everything I did wrong. Now I knew what these people were looking for. I thought I had a real handle on what this was all about. There’s moolah to be made.

The Psychic Center was up next. I had a more permanent schedule to make myself more consistently available. My profile listed the following skills: Clairaudience, Clairsentience, Numerology, Native American Medicine Cards, and Tarot cards. They let me set my own price. This site also gave me a larger profile and published an interview with me to give callers a better understanding of what my deal was. The profile indicated how my first channeling experience went, and how esoteric spiritual practice was in my family. This was true. My aunt is a master astrologer and gave me my birth chart when I was just a kid. In the interview I explained how I work, which made it easier when people called me. I was more inviting. I mentioned working with Native American animal totems, which I still do today.

Unfortunately, the darkness just wouldn’t stop. One woman in particular latched her claws into me and wouldn’t let go. I had to have a separate notebook just to track all the drama in her life. This woman was a pure hustler. A single mom who had some kind of executive advisory career, which sounded copasetic, except that her main objective in life was to take advantage of men with big bank accounts. My role was to help her figure out who had the most money and who would be the easiest prey. Going deeper, we would consider the kind of people they were. We would discuss just how to act and talk to infiltrate their worlds. We also discussed how she should dress. How were these men vulnerable? When’s the best time and best way to make a move? Should sex be used as a method of taking power and gaining control? We spoke up to eight hours a week. The more this went on I started asking myself who was more twisted. Was it her for blatantly trying to hustle men, or me for helping her do it? Business from other callers was crawling. I was clearing one-hundred to three hundred fifty dollars a week. Lame.

I decided to pursue the big bucks. It was time for all or nothing. I was either going to make it doing this or wrap it up, fold up my tent, and raise the white flag. It was my psychic mentor again providing the hook-up. This time we worked for a psychic company based in France. Psychic Solutions was their brand name. This site promised serious loot. Their thing was that we would do readings via chat online. I found the chat method more efficient. I was making better money than my usual when I got an email from them saying they had to close, and that they had no money to pay me. It took me three months of sending demanding emails to get my thirteen hundred dollars. My last day working for them was three hours on Christmas morning. Finally, I had enough.

I still get emails offering me psychic work believe it or not. Lucky for me, I actually got the job back that I had surrendered whilst I made a mad attempt to climb psychic mountain. Whenever I look back, I still can’t believe that I went there and pulled it off. It’s not exactly something to be proud of. Still, if you believe for a second that spirit guides might be real, then you might enjoy what my spirit guide Samuel asked me a few days after I walked away from being a telephone psychic forever:

“So my friend. Let me ask you something.

What did you learn?”