How to tell someone’s fortune


I have to admit, I can’t take full credit for this idea. Steps 1–3 were Pickles’ idea. This technique will only work if you have a smartphone and you take public transit regularly.

  1. Sign up for a Twitter account and a Google+ account.
  2. Next time your bus or métro is late, open Twitter and Google+ on your smartphone and search under “nearby” for tweets and posts that make reference to the bus or métro stop where you are. (A Twitter user’s first instinct, when his or her bus or métro is late, is to tweet about it.)
  3. When you’ve found a recent tweet about your particular public transit problem, try to identify who it is that wrote it. Often you can do this from the person’s profile photo and by seeing who is fiddling with a smartphone.
  4. Read back on that person’s tweets and try to infer 5 or 6 minor but specific details about that person’s life that couldn’t be guessed from the person’s appearance. Memorise these.
  5. Look for one major thing, like a fight with a family member or an assignment at work or school, that is recent enough to not have been resolved yet. Try to guess what it is that the person would like to hear about that.
  6. Approach.
  7. Ask to see the person’s palm, or the pattern of coffee grinds in the bottom of her cup, or (my personal favourite) grab the person’s earlobe, and say, “Your pagh is strong, my child.”
  8. Use the minor details that you have gleaned from his or her Twitter or Google+ feed to gain the person’s trust. (E.g. “Your roommate—she doesn’t do the dishes very regularly, does she?” or “Did you just get a promotion at work?”)
  9. Act surprised about something, and then play “hard to get.” (E.g. “Oh! Isn’t that something!” / “What?” / “I don’t know if I should tell you. It’s about [major detail from step 5].”)
  10. Let the person offer you money. Begrudgingly accept.
  11. Tell the person what he or she wants to hear. (“Your brother puts up a tough exterior, but deep down he forgives you.”)
  12. Cackle, disappear in a puff of smoke.

If any of you actually has an opportunity to try this, let me know how it works out.


    title = {How to tell someone’s fortune},
    journaltitle = {The Grey Literature},
    author = {Benjamin Gregory Carlisle},
    address = {Montreal, Canada},
    date = 2011-08-13,
    url = {}


Carlisle, Benjamin Gregory. "How to tell someone’s fortune" Web blog post. The Grey Literature. 13 Aug 2011. Web. 21 Mar 2019. <>


Carlisle, Benjamin Gregory. (2011, Aug 13). How to tell someone’s fortune [Web log post]. Retrieved from

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