Satan 11: The Sitters You Meet in Hell.

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I love being a fortune-teller. It's a delightful hobby, a deeply meaningful practice, and the best job I've ever had. How many people get paid to do what they love? Not very many. But being a professional fortune-teller also means that I occasionally have to deal with sitters who make me absolutely insane, and this is why I've learned to identify problematic sitters so I can get rid of them when they appear. If you encounter these sitters, don't hesitate to fire them into the deepest depths of the abyss.

1) J. Wellington Wimpy: “I’ll gladly pay you on Tuesday for a hamburger today!”

The first problem sitter you'll encounter is the one who insists that he or she can't afford to pay anything. This is my least favorite kind of sitter: the one who asks me to do free work (no matter how small) or who swears up and down that he or she will come back in a week and pay me then for the work I did today. Just say "no" to free work. Don't do it. If you do free work, stop doing it. You're teaching your sitters that your time isn't valuable, and they'll take and take until you've got nothing left to give. 

And what do you think your sitter means when he or she says, "I can't afford to pay anything right now?" I know that he or she probably spent at least $5 on coffee, cigarettes, candy bars, soda pop, chewing gum, or a purchase on the iStore or Google Play today. And how much did he or she spend yesterday? And how much will he or she spend tomorrow? So don't even think for a moment that your sitters are poor, because I know for a fact that's not true. What they're really saying is, "My daily indulgence of coffee, cigarettes, candy, soda, or tech is more important to me than your time." So if you ever hear a sitter saying, "I can't afford to pay anything," then you can be sure that what he or she is really saying is, “I won’t pay anything.” This kind of sitter can still be useful to you if you find a way to get him or her to circulate word of mouth in your favor, just be careful that one non-paying sitter doesn’t turn into a dozen.

2) The Know-Nothing: “I don’t know what to ask. Do you know what I should ask?”

The second problem sitter is the one who won't ask a specific question. There are two mandatory ingredients for a successful performance: desire and specificity. It's not enough for your sitter to only want a Tarot reading, because desire alone will only bring him or her to the ritual chamber. Without a specific question which addresses the deep concern that motivated him or her to seek the deception, he or she will be sorely disappointed. If you were a doctor and a patient walked into your office, you'd ask, "What's the problem?" And when the patient responds, "I don't know; I just don't feel good," what would you do? You'd rightly prescribe two aspirin and charge the patient $50 for wasting your time. Plumbing your sitters for information doesn't just enhance your performance, it also creates a deeper and more enjoyable fantasy for them.

3) The Do-Nothing: “I don’t know what to do. Will you tell me what to do?”

The third problem sitter is the one who won't make a decision without you and just begs you to tell him or her what to do in any circumstance. While this can be useful for getting the sitter to buy more Tarot readings, this kind of sitter rapidly becomes a psychic vampire who won't give you a moment's rest. When this sitter appears, my first line of defense is, "Only you can take responsibility for your life, and while I'll do my best to present options and alternatives, you alone have to live with the consequences of your decisions, and for that reason only you can make them." As you might expect, a short lecture about personal responsibility usually gets rid of them. 

4) Woody Allen: “Play it again, Sam.”

The fourth problem sitter is the one who'll pay for a performance but doesn't ask the question that he or she really cares about. This sitter will smile and nod all the way to the end of your performance, but then out of nowhere ask you to perform again for free to answer the unasked question. When this happens, I reply, "I'm sorry I didn't answer the question you really wanted to ask, but I don't have time to play guessing games and that's why I asked you up-front what you wanted to look at today." This problem sitter thinks that the squeaky wheel gets the grease, but at my Tarot table it’s the protruding nails that get hammered. 

5) Sneaky Squirrels: “I hid an acorn, Can you guess where I put it?”

The fifth problem sitter likes to test the psychic and deliberately withholds critical information. I always spend a few minutes talking with the sitter and setting up the performance so that I know the context in which I'm going to perform, and that's why it’s particularly frustrating when I complete the performance and then the sitter says, "I didn't tell you this one crucial piece of information that suddenly makes this entire performance worthless." There’s very little to be done for this sitter. He or she has enough awareness to test if the fortune-teller is a genuine psychic, but not enough awareness to realize that no psychic yet has won the lottery. 

This sitter is sometimes handled with verbal judo—“Please think a little more closely about what we discussed,” or, “Let’s take a look back and see if the answer is still in the cards”—but in the end, all you can do is make sure he or she pays for your work before you shuffle him or her out the door. Or if you’re particularly cruel, you can recommend this sitter to a fortune-teller you don’t like.

6) Mr. Magoo: “Oh, Magoo, you’ve done it again!”

The sixth problem sitter is the one who genuinely believes that he or she has psychic abilities but can't divine his or her own future and needs you to do it instead. This sitter is especially problematic because he or she knows enough about how a deception works to peek behind the curtain and hold you accountable to your tool. They'll pick apart your esoteric practices, question your methods, argue about your interpretations, and often enough swear that you're completely wrong... which is hilarious because I thought the reason he or she came to me is because he or she can't see what’s happening and needs another perspective? The way it looks from my side is that such sitters know full well what's happening because they can clearly define everything that isn't their situation.

7) Dr. Ramoray: “I see what you did there.”

The seventh problem sitter wants to know exactly what cards you pulled, exactly how you arranged them, what deck you're using, and "by the way, have you heard of this other incredible Tarot spread that is so deep and powerful you've probably never done it?" This kind of sitter tends to believe that there's a sacred, definitive, and One Holy Truth which all Genuine Fortune Tellers are obligated to follow. This sitter will Google anything you say the instant you say it and when it doesn't match up will complain that you didn't do it right. Sometimes, this sitter will even call you a liar—which you are, so it's no big deal—and get very upset that you didn't do the specific mumbo-jumbo that he or she was expecting. In this situation, there's nothing you can do because this sitter is a worshiper of the One True Occult (to which apparently only he or she is actually initiated.) Indulge this sitter at your peril, because there's very little to be gained from him or her.

8) Jellyfish John: “I can’t be left alone without adult supervision.”

The eighth problem sitter is the one who demands constant reassurance that your predictions are 100% accurate because he or she can't endure any degree of risk or uncertainty in his or her life. You can assuage his or her fears through a strong show of confidence, but he or she will come running back to you the very moment your prediction fails (and it will fail, of that you can be certain.) They'll demand greater assurances that their reality isn't exactly what it is, and even though they’ll happily pay for further deception, this will only perpetuate the cycle. This kind of sitter is bread-and-butter for professional fortune-tellers, but if you find yourself with this kind of sitter don't make the mistake of crossing personal and professional boundaries or you'll be getting phone calls and emails from him or her at all hours of the day. 

9) Magic 8 Ball: “Try again later.”

The ninth problem sitter is the one who's convinced that he or she will get the answer he or she wants if he or she just keeps asking. This sitter is a blessing because he or she will become a frequent customer and spend a lot of money asking you to do very simple work, but will also become a curse because he or she will argue with you when a later prediction contradicts an earlier prediction. Unless you feel like spending vast amounts of time recording and indexing your performances, the only way to handle this sitter is to take all the money he or she is willing to throw at you and then pretend surprise and offer sympathy when he or she complains about the failed prediction.

10) Psychic Vampires: “I want to suck your blood.”

The tenth problem sitter is the one who just won't go away when the show is over. It's expected that any sitter is going to have some follow-up questions, but this kind of sitter asks dozens of follow-up questions for more and greater detail. This sitter will conceive every possible permutation of how the asked question could evolve, and it can be fun to give progressively unbelievable predictions just to find the limits of the sitter's gullibility, but this sitter is ultimately a psychic vampire who will drain all your energy. Feel no remorse when insisting that this sitter continue paying money as a condition for your continued attention.

11) Trolls: “(unintelligible verbal diarrhea)”

The eleventh problem sitter is the one who only appears to be a sitter, but is in fact a predator who thinks you're the prey. This sitter is almost invariably religious and is found on both the left- and the right-hand paths. On the right-hand path, this sitter is disguised as the curious Christian taking a walk on the wild side, but only uses your performance as a way to figuratively hold you hostage and ask why you hate Jesus. On the left-hand path, this is usually an occultist who believes that he or she knows better than you the divine secrets of the highest peaks of the most blessed mountains beyond the far reaches of the western sea (and so on), and like the curious Christian will use your performance as a means to challenge why you refuse to accept his or her higher wisdom. 

If you’re a sadist, then you can give these masochists the verbal abuse they desire, but this will only perpetuate the relationship and encourage them to troll you with increasing severity. The only way to handle this sitter is to just stop talking. Any response at all to their overtures no matter how small—even saying, "Eat shit and die!"—is taken as a sign that they've still got your attention. The only assault this sitter can't endure is the silent treatment, so hit where it hurts the most and close your mouth when you talk to them.