My first shift was on Valentine's Day, which was like learning how to Parkour without first learning how to walk. The service would link to my personal phone with the caller from their 800 number, so I was able to work from home. That night my phone rang constantly with needy, single callers. The majority of these lonely hearts asked about people they hadn't even met yet from online dating sites. They were spending $3.50 a minute to obsess over someone they'd never even kissed. I was collecting $1.99 per minute to tell them what I saw in the cards, which was, by and large, bullshit. They were never going to meet, let alone, love these strangers. By the end of my evening I felt infected with desperation and insanity (which makes sense considering my employers had classified me as an "Empath," a skill that was added to my profile).
The magician Julien Proskauer revealed that the levitating trumpet of Jack Webber was a trick. Close examination of photographs reveal Webber to be holding a telescopic reaching rod attached to the trumpet, and sitters in his séances only believed it to have levitated because the room was so dark they could not see the rod. Webber would cover the rod with crepe paper to disguise its real construction.
Many of the agencies will insist the readers manage a call average of at least so many minutes per call, to them if you cannot keep the clients on the phone AT LEAST that long you are losing them money. They then organise their computer to only pass on calls to those who can keep people on the phone, so those with a poor call average will sit there for a lot longer before they maybe get a call.
I dug them out again this spring for a foray into a career as a phone psychic—the latest installment of “Human Guinea Pig,” a column in which I am supposed to explore intriguing corners of life, but in which, so far, I mostly humiliate myself. (Like here, for example.) Locating openings for my extrasensory services was easy. I went to an online job site and typed “psychic” into the search engine. I sent e-mails to the three companies listed, and two—I’ll call them ESP Net and Chakra Con—sent me back contracts to fill out.