Monday, 6 May 2013

Another Stupid Monday

The weather here is finally gorgeous. It's difficult to believe that on the weekend of the 25/26, it snowed. This weekend, we had temperatures over 20 degrees C. I even managed to get a tiny little sunburn.

The lovely weather continued today, which made me resent having to sit in a dark, airless room entertaining lunatics. Except that I didn't entertain any lunatics today because even the lunatics wanted to be outside in the sun.

The only lunatic I entertained today was Madame X, who was in rare form. Shortly after starting work this morning, I overheard her throwing something away in the garbage can just outside my office. I don't know what it was she was discarding, but I heard her say, "Thank you" and "Goodbye" to it.

At quarter after two, she ran--literally--back to my room and said, "Sweetie, it's after two! Go for lunch!"

"Actually," I said, "I'm waiting until three. If I don't get a reading before then, I'll just take off for the day."

She wasn't pleased, but what was she going to do? It's my second last day there, and I'm a sub-contractor anyway. Then, at twenty to three, she sent Cassandra, the part-timer, back to tell me to go right away.

And because she can't trust anyone to do anything properly, Madame X appeared in my office to say, "Cassandra has to leave at three-thirty and I am having a panic attack about too many people (two) leaving the shop all at once (45 minutes apart)."

I suppressed the urge to tell her that she needs psychiatric intervention and some time off, because yanno what? This ought to be patently obvious to her. So I packed up my crap and got the fuck out.

And yes, my last day is this coming Friday. She came into my office last Monday, looking all trepidatious, making me think perhaps she had read the blog and recognized herself. She shut the door and turned on the music, which only served to reinforce my suspicion. And I didn't care: I haven't said anything on the blog that I wouldn't say to her face if confronted (although face-to-face, I might choose more delicate language, the essential message would remain).

Anyway, then she said, "I want to run something past you." And she went on to explain that getting another reader in for me on holidays and Fridays was a pain in the ass (her word was "hassle"), so would it be a huge problem if my last day was May 11.

Naturally, I was delighted. I reassured her that I understood completely that her first priority was the store and she has to do what is best for her business and that my life is in transition, too, and--here I laid it on good and thick--as a fellow traveler and soul in this universe, it is my responsibility to make her transition as effortless and painless as possible.

Whereupon, she burst into tears, hugged me and told me that I had "made her life." That is, of course, rather an extreme statement, but that's the norm around that place. She was, she said, concerned that I would be hugely pissed off, which again, underscores how little she's been paying attention.

But anyway, there you have it. I am free of this particular brand of lunacy as of Friday at 7:00 p.m.

Monday, 29 April 2013

Bug Off!

More insanity from the esoteric side of the street, as it's Monday and all...

Everyday that I work at the tarot shop, Madame X asks me how many readings I want. I am supposed to announce my desires to the universe in the hopes that these desires will manifest into actual readings, therefore cashola. But I've kind of given up on that whole thing, because it never happens and she always adds on to it anyway.

I was especially cynical this morning, because I woke up to snow flurries. Piss me off. So when she asked me, "What do you want today?", I said, "I want to accept with grace whatever the universe sees fit to send me."

"Okay, Universe, Sharon wants six hours and three half hours! Thank you for manifesting this desire today, April 29, 2013!"

I think I had three hours in total, which was more than I was anticipating, but still...

Then, a few minutes later, she called out to the staff, "Someone needs to look up beetles on the internet! I'm finding beetles in my house!"

"What kind of beetles?" I asked.

When she described them, it was pretty clear that what she was talking about are sow bugs.

"Don't worry about it," I said. "They're a little creepy, but they don't harm anything, so they won't wreck your stuff."

"But what does it mean when you find them in your house?" she said.

"That spring is coming and the bugs are emerging?"

She thought I was being funny. But seriously, why would you look for a deeper meaning than that?

Oh, and to top it all off? Client Number One of the day said to me, "I have a mental health issue."

Actual quote. Fuck my life.

Anyway, I had a terrific time at the Calgary Comic-con this weekend. I have a fabulous story to tell about my encounter with Carrie Fisher that all of you will enjoy, so give me a while to get my poop in a group and I'll get it out there, hopefully before the week is out.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Taro...oh, no! Here Comes Another Crazy!

I'm all for going beyond one's comfort zone and trying something new, expanding one's horizons and broadening one's mind. But, in certain circumstances, one really must come to the conclusion that one is not really cut out for certain kinds of work, or that one lacks the skill set to perform a particular job properly.

This is what has happened to me with regard to tarot reading at the shop, where since December, for two days a week, I have gazed into the misty future for all manner of people. A good percentage of those people have been excellent candidates for the puzzle factory. I have related some of my experiences here. Not surprizingly, nothing has changed, except that I have finally become so fed up with the rampant craziness that, following the Victoria Day weekend, I am going back to one day a week at the shop.

There are two recent clients that stand out as memorable.  One has an official mental health diagnosis who only comes to see me because she wants to know if there is a future in a relationship with one of her professionals, who is married with children and is completely unaware of her feelings for him. ("No.") it just doesn't sit well with me to take money from someone who is on a fixed income due to a mental health issue.

The other one was a nice Christian lady who suffers from bi-polar and snow mould: she doesn't work because she can't, and the government won't give her money for disability because her husband makes too much money. And her questions? "We're really poor, and I'm just wondering if my finances are going to turn around for us anytime soon. I really don't know where the money goes." (Really? *cha-ching!* Cuz I do! That will be $100.00 please.)

It has become rather obvious to me of late that I simply lack many of the skills needed to read tarot effectively for most of my clients. Oh, I can build a narrative with the best of them and I know the cards inside out and backwards. That's not the problem.  The problem is that I am intrinsically pragmatic and don't necessarily buy into all the attendant crap that goes along with this kind of industry. I'm not a gypsy. I don't connect you to your spirit guides. I don't even necessarily believe in spirit guides. I do not speak to the dead and I will not take pictures of your aura. My stones are purely decorative. Incense is for in case one of us farts during the reading. Also I like the smell of nag champa. Have deck, will travel, I don't need anything else, like candles.

I also, it must be admitted, lack a certain tolerance and compassion. I must be honest. I have a very general sense of compassion for those less fortunate than I, but, while I would never do anything cruel or degrading to such a person, neither do I have any desire whatsoever to have them in my office. This is best left to professionals who went to university and took the degrees to do the job properly. I do not want the responsibility or the hassle, because I am made uncomfortable by whatever infirmity plagues them.

For example, on Monday, after my first crazy client of the day ("No, I will not put some cards down and tell you what someone else is thinking. That's not ethical."), I heard a small, piping voice coming from the front of the shop.

"Mommy! Mommy! Mommy! Mommy! Mommy! Are we going? Are we going? Are we going now? Are we going now or what? Mommy! Mommy!"

Then the shop went quiet, except for the Deva Premal cd that is on constant rotation, and to which I am forced to listen for eight hours every Monday and Friday. I looked up, and in the doorway was a small child, roughly four or five years old, and clearly a victim of Down's Syndrome. He stood there, staring at me for a second, and then he got up onto the chair across from me and blew out all my candles.

I stared at him in silence, wondering how difficult it would be to beat an aggravated assault beef against a retarded child. I was on the verge of deciding to punch him in the throat anyway, when his mother magically appeared and hustled him out the door, apologizing.

So you see? If you asked me to my face if I feel badly for people who are intellectually diminished, I would tell you in all sincerity that yes, it is an deeply unfortunate thing and I am grateful every second of every day that I am not likewise afflicted. And I do mean that. I really do. Nevertheless, get out of my office.

Now, if it was just the clients--and the client's occasional child--that would be one thing. The other issue I am having is that the chick who owns the shop is just as crazy as her customers. I'll call her Madame X. Madame X is rigid and has some really impressive control issues. She will not leave the store even to get her own lunch, "in case something happens". Recently, she was diagnosed with an upper respiratory infection that was bordering on pneumonia, yet she never missed a single day of work. The same is true of her bladder infections, which occur because she puts off using the facilities because she is so busy multi-tasking.

That's none of my business (although she talks about it and describes the symptoms candidly during work hours), but it illustrates how off-balance her behaviour is, and how screwed up her priorities. I mean, it's not like she doesn't have staff, she does, but she can't relinquish control long enough to get over a serious illness. That's a problem.

She is plenty whacky in other ways, too. From my dark little room, I can often hear her thanking Archangel Michael and Archangel Raphael and Merlin (!!!) for favours granted to her.

She believes implicitly that she is an "empath", which is apparently someone who picks up on the feelings and pains of others. It is not at all unusual for her to blurt out, "Okay, who's got the headache?" It doesn't matter if customers are present; she'll ask them, too. If someone admits to having the headache, she will ask permission to tape a lithium crystal to their forehead (because apparently, Tylenol is too complicated). So then the staff member or customer goes about their business with a rock scotch-taped to their melon.

If, however, no-one cops to the pain, the show is even better. Then she says, "Oh, this must be So-and-So's" (even though they may be across town), and she goes down on all fours wherever she is standing and asks the Universe to "sever ties" so that she no longer has to carry the pain. I think it's funny that it never occurs to her that it could be her own goddamned headache or lower back pain, it always has to be someone else's.

She has a lot of jewellery stuck to the wall behind the till with that silly putty sticky stuff that is meant as a temporary adhesive. If  a piece of jewelley falls to the floor (and what are the chances, given the temporary nature of the stuff), there is great meaning to it, depending on the design or the stones ("Oooh! Jade! Abundance! Sales are going to pick up!").

I could go on and on, but the bottom line here is that I just can't immerse myself any longer in that pool of foolishness. I used to enjoy reading tarot, now I resent it, because in so many cases, it seems exploitive of the wrong people. I'm being asked to provide a service for people who are in no position to benefit from it. And the woman pimping me out has but a tangential connection to reality.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to consult my pendulum on where my youthful idealism went. 

Monday, 25 February 2013

Mercury In Retrograde Under A Full Moon

The crazies are out in full force. I spent eight hours at the tarot shop and half--yes! fifty percent!--of my clients today were full on cray-cray!

I began my day by putting on my tinfoil beanie, because I knew I was in for some lively action. Oh, I know people in my line of work should be yapping about “reframing one’s experience” and “choosing optimism” or “putting out positive energy”, but while everyone else sits around holding hands and singing “Kumbaya”, I have to deal with crazies. 

My first reading this morning, for example, was a completely uptight Swedish woman who wanted to know who the father of her grandchild is. Clearly, she was looking more for a psychic than a tarot reader, because she complained that the reading was very general. Well, yeah, Inga, it is, but why are you sitting here instead of calling a doctor’s office for a paternity test? Think it through, Flicka. Sheesh.

I cannot, for the life of me, understand why people choose to take the convoluted route to solving a problem and then blame me when I don't give them satisfaction. Fer fuck's sake!

It really is amazing what kind of information people think you can offer them. A couple of weeks back, I had this client. I'll call her Mary. She was an older woman who began our session by explaining that she was in a relationship with this guy, but she didn’t know if she should break up with him or not because he drinks too much, smokes pot and makes her IBS kick up.  Frankly, unless you are a gastroenterologist, you know an appointment is going go badly if the client refers to her bowel in the first 30 seconds. 

Mary was no exception and was perhaps the most passive person I have ever met. I said to her, “Well, if you’re not happy in the relationship and he makes you feel ill, why would you stay?”

She said, “I dunno.” 

So, I put some cards down, but it was really just a formality, because while I usually like to gently lead my clients to their own conclusions, Mary wasn't actually bright or motivated enough to get there in the half hour we had together. So, eventually I just told her to dump him. I mean, she was having to compete for him with his eighty-year-old mother (with whom he was still living), a fight she was destined to lose. Without hesitation, she said, “Okay.” (I should have also said, “Now empty out your bank account and bring me the contents in small, unmarked bills”, but I have promised to use my powers for good, not evil. More's the pity.)

Having resolved the issue of her current relationship, Mary was all fired up to see what the future held for her in terms of other men. She asked me if she could pray on my cards. (Aw, jeez: one of those.) Naturally, I said yes, because it’s always fun to see what comes out of their mouths. Mary did not disappoint. She said, “Lord God, please let me know what kind of man I’m going to meet, what he’ll look like, what kind of job he has, what kind of car he drives…”
What kind of car he drives??? Honey, do you really think my tarot deck is able to tell me if your swanky new beau drives a Hummer or a Pinto??? Jesus, if I could get that kind of detail out of these cards, I wouldn’t be at this dinky little shop reading for God-botherers like you! Holy fuck.

My last client today was so fucking crazy that I couldn't even take a stab at answering her questions. I actually sent her down the hall to talk to the other reader because... well, I’ll let her explain it in her own words.

“So I saw a picture of this guy on the internet, and I don’t know him or anything, but he is on my mind all the time. He’s in my thoughts constantly. When I see his picture, I’m just filled with this sense of overwhelming importance and emotion, and I guess I just want to know why. Like, do I know him from a past life, or am I just crazy?”
(I’ll take “I Am Just Crazy for $500, Alex.”
“That’s your Daily Double!”)

Out loud, I said to her, “I just want to clarify: you have no connection or interaction with this person? You just see his photo.”

“Well, I’m not actually qualified to diagnose crazy.” (Inside Voice: But you’d be my best candidate of the day so far, and that’s saying something, girl.) “And this kind of issue isn’t really what I do, but the other reader does, so I’ll just go find out if she’s available.”

And thank God, she was available, because the thought of spending an hour with this pleasant but twacked-out young lady was giving me schpilkas in my genechtigazoink. I mean, if she’s starting out with a batshit crazy question like that, then there’s no telling where we’d end up. But it probably involves talking to the spirits of her dead hamsters, all of which were named after goddesses.

"Isis was my favourite, so I don't feel like I gave Kali all the attention she needed, maybe because she was always abusing her environment and trying to escape, and I just felt that she was rejecting me, so I kind of resented that. Astarte got pregnant and had a bunch of babies, but she ate them all, because I think Hecate's cage was too close to hers. Anyway, I just lost Demeter and she comes to me in my dreams a lot and I think she's trying to tell me something. Can we ask something like that?"
Yes, we can ask something like that, but the answer isn't pleasant and involves the prescription of powerful anti-psychotics.
Tomorrow, I am schedued to work at the law office where I will no doubt be required to deal with a slightly different set of whackjobs.
Lucky me.


Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Tarot Tales: Installment Two: The Magic At Grandma's House

So, quite recently, I had a(nother) batshit crazy client. It’s an occupational hazard: occasionally, I end up spending half an hour or so with someone who is completely bananas. I truly earn my money in these moments.

This crazy bitch didn't smell like urine, nor did she suffer a lateral lisp, but she strongly resembled the Shishter From Shashkatoon in many ways. There was just something dodgy about her mannerisms and very slow, dramatic speech patterns that made my Spidey-sense tingle.
She began by telling me, “Well, I just lost a grandma that meant the world to me. I sacrificed a job to go to Ontario and look after her before she died, and it was really tough. It was her wish that I look after her, cuz my aunt didn’t want to. And even though it’s been two and a half months since grandma bought the farm [I’m paraphrasing, here—ed], she visits me three times a week. I even got a Christmas card from her. ” (cue ALARM BELLS)

Me: “Okay, so what is it you want to know?” (Cuz, bitch, that's all exposition. Get to the point).

“I wanna know if the Will is gonna go through alright, or if we can expect trouble.”

I shook my head, because this was definitely not where I had anticipated the reading going. “Ooookaaaaay. Do you expect to probate the Will?”

There was a long pause as she looked at me blankly.
“Yeah. Maybe. I dunno,” she said, finally.

Me: “Because estates take a long time to settle under the best of circumstances. When there are complications like codicils or when you probate, it takes significantly longer.”

“Can I ask you a question? What does ‘probate’ mean?”

This chick was about my age [I'm not exactly a spring chicken anymore--ed], and somehow, she had managed to live her whole life without ever encountering the concept of challenging a Will. Blows me away. I almost asked her, “What area of the city is the rock you live under in?”, but then I remembered that I was being recorded, so I just explained to her what “probate” means.

“Oh, cuz I’m pretty sure my aunt is gonna take everything!” she said.

“Are you the executrix of the Will?”


“Is your mom?”


“So your aunt is?”

“Yeah, but before she died, grandma left me with instructions about her wishes and I need to see that they are carried out.”
(In my head: Well, that's tough titty for grandma.)

Outside Voice: “Well, the first thing you need is legal counsel.”
Not My Problem List
1. Why are you wasting money on a tarot reader? Research a lawyer for your mother. They are expensive.
2. Without any legal documents, you are screwed, blued and tattoo'ed legally.
So having discussed the Will issue, Loony Tunes wanted to address the issue of her marriage.

“Cuz, while I was taking care of grandma in Ontario, she said to me, ‘I sure hope he doesn’t have a girlfriend while you’re gone’.”

(In my head: Well, now I see why auntie didn’t want to take care of her: grandma was a fucking bitch.

Outside Voice: “So do you think he’s fooling around on you?”(The cards said “yes”, by the way.)

“Yeah!” said Loony.

“And why do you think that?”

“Because I saw texts to him from another woman on his phone.”
(In my head: I’m not going to ask why you were snooping around on his phone.)

Outside Voice: “Did you confront him about this?”

“Yeah, we had a huge fight and he denied everything.” (Imagine that!!!)

And then, having discussed the likelihood of his at least flirting with other women in an inappropriate fashion, she said, “I’m pretty psychic, eh? And I just knew I was gonna get that Christmas card from grandma after she died. I knew it, but I hate when I see stuff that’s gonna happen and then it comes true.”

“How exactly did you manage to get a Christmas card from grandma?” I asked, and stopped myself from adding, “Because I can’t imagine the postage on something from Beyond the Grave.”

“Oh, one of grandma’s friends sent it to me, cuz I’m pretty sure grandma told her to,” said Loony.

At this point, I almost said, “Get out of my office, you delusional dingdong.” But there were only a few more minutes left in the session, and I thought I would amuse myself by mining her for more information. It's a sickness I have. I know I shouldn't ask. I know there are dark corners into which I shouldn't peer, and I know that doing so invariably results in the death of what little hope I have for humanity left. I know this, and yet, I do it.
So I said, “And grandma visits you three times a week?”

“Yeah,” said Loony. “The other night I asked her to let me know if she was around and she rapped on the table.”

OOOH! Rapping on the table!!!! Bust out the Ouija board, kids! We got ourselves a gen-u-wine seance! What is this, 1851??? Rapping on the table. Sheesh. Thanks very much for dropping by and spreading your particular brand of crazy. That’ll be $60.00 please. Don’t let the door hit your ass on the way out.

Oh, and get a shrink.

The other noteworthy client I had was a young woman who wanted to know if her aborted baby was okay on the Other Side. This question is so wrong on so many levels, but the short answer is...
This is the kind of crap I have to wade through from time to time.