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Nina In New York: Where's Oda Mae Brown When You Need Her?

A young professional's take on the trials and tribulations of everyday life in New York City.

My father always warned me that something like this could happen.

For reasons I forget and were probably entirely imagined anyway, one of his oft- and ominously-repeated lessons was never, never, ever to go to a psychic. And if I find myself before one despite his warnings, I should certainly never trust anything she says to me. She will tell me that I'm going to die some horrible death, but I'll have to see her again to find out when and how to avoid it. Or she'll tell me I need to fork over all my money or face dire consequences.

Of course, I did. On a lark, mostly. The conversation went something like this:

"You are very undecided about your major in school. You're having trouble."

"I graduated from college years ago."

"I mean to say you were uncertain at one point."

"Not really, I sort of always knew I'd be an English major."

"But you WILL be conflicted about your career."

"Okay, thanks."

All in all a completely benign interaction which mainly resulted in my feeling sorry for my psychic, who had also been eating a Popsicle which was dripping down her chin the whole time. But apparently I was in the bush league, and my father was right all along.

The New York Times reported on a Greenwich Village psychic named Sylvia Mitchell, who is on the lam after being charged with grand larceny. You see, she allegedly bilked a customer out of close to $30,000. Why would a person give a psychic that kind of money? That's what you might be asking. It's very simple. The client, who was no doubt a desperate and trusting person, paid $70 for her first visit during which she was told that a mere grand would buy her the answers to all her problems. And $1,000 later, she found out the truth: The root of all her woes lay in her toxic dependence on that universal of all evils, money.

Ain't it the truth.

So naturally, the way to resolve this is to part with said toxin. Not by cutting her credit cards or giving large donations to charity or family members or putting it away in a long-term CD. No, to be really cured, she had to fork it over to Sylvia. Just for safe-keeping. And guess what: Sylvia kept it.

Okay, so the woman is a bit of a dope. But this is what the psychic industry does. They prey on the vulnerable and take advantage of people who are clearly not in their right minds and are easily convinced of unbelievable things. I would have figured the Miss Cleo debacle would have scared most believers off, but she was but a small blotch in a far grander scheme (which likely didn't even include her). According to the same article, these psychics are part of a much deeper criminal network than I would ever have imagined. I assumed all of these charlatans were independent contractors, conning people similarly yet individually. Kind of like pickpockets or cell phone companies. But as it turns out, they're organized. They have a council of elders and agreed-upon territories and they operate in families. This suddenly got much creepier, right? Though I feel like they really ought to have better signage if they're as organized as they're alleged to be. I see misspellings and poor wording everywhere, and it just makes them look unprofessional. There's no way I'd pay a dime for someone who offers "plam readings" or "parking for psychic customers only."

Anyway, this is all moot because everyone knows that the real psychics have their own cable television programs and book contracts. If we just stick to only giving them our money, we'll all be fine.

The Nina Archives:

Never Was I More Disturbed To Say 'I (Sorta) Told You So.'

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The End May Or May Not Be Nigh…

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