Here's an idea I would love to try if I had more time and money available. It would be great to set up one of those street-side psychic shops for a year, and run the psychic confidence game with the most outrageous angle you could think of. Maybe try something like divination by consulting the impressions that people's butts made in mudpies or something. The people paying to put their butt in the mud have already decided to believe you or they wouldn't be there, so it's a prime opportunity to indulge in some serious theatrics. And if you're not the sort to enjoy putting on theater for the fun of it, you wouldn't consider this either.
Regular readers of these erratic essays know I'm no fan of psychics. At best I think they're intuitive advisors who have to lie to themselves to believe they give good advice or to their clients to be heard. At worst they're the lowest form of thief: one who steals both their victims' dignity and money. And often their victims are the ones who can least afford to lose either. So why am I suddenly advocating this line of work?
The idea is to educate people about the scam viscerally. First of all, inquire enough about the potential customers enough to be sure that we're not taking anyone's health insurance premiums or keeping battered spouses from seeking shelter. Then instead of taking all the money and spending it, invest it for the customers. Close up after a year, take another year to let the investments earn something, and then return the money, along with an explanation. It would be hard to refrain from telling each client that they should expect a windfall in a year or so.
I really like the idea of showing up at someone's house a year after the last time they saw you, telling them you have a bunch of money and a story for them, and letting them in on the gag. Showing up with the money plus interest would likely keep you from getting beaten up, too.
Our psychic would get a great story out of it. Can you imagine telling that one over cocktails? An enterprising fake psychic could even write the whole thing up as a book and make some bucks for their trouble.
I predict that no one will try it. If I'm wrong, let me know about it. I'd love to hear how it goes.