You Have A Lucky Face

I’d been walking back from a meeting in town when it suddenly began raining. I’m the type of person who packs an umbrella even at the slightest possibility of rain – in fact, at school my friends found it amusing how I always seemed to have an umbrella even in the middle of summer.

Lately though, I’d begun relying on a new weather app that provided very reliable hour-by-hour rain predictions to figure out what to wear in the morning – a sort of just-in-time clothing process – and today it told me the probability of rain was very low, hence no umbrella. And so here I was, sheltering underneath an awning waiting for the pedestrian lights to turn green, speaking to a guy who’d just been standing there.

I hadn’t noticed him at first; I was listening to a podcast of This American Life, the one about Father’s Day, and it took a while for me to realise he was actually trying to speak to me. The man was smartly dressed, wearing a dark suit jacket over an open-necked white shirt. He didn’t look like a weirdo, but you never know. I took one earbud out and turned towards him.

“You have a lucky face,” he said.

I laughed. “Thanks,” I said, thinking that he was just in a cheerful mood.

“You have a very lucky face,” he continued. “I can tell from your eyes and your mouth.”

“Hmm,” I said.

“But you look worried, you are frowning here,” he said, gesturing above my nose. “You should know that you will have good luck in the next three months, you will work hard but you will get what you are looking for.”

Ah, I thought, a fortune-teller. I glanced up at the lights; they were still red, and the rain was still coming down.

“Do you want to know why I think this? Let me tell you.” He slipped a red wallet made from leather out of his jacket and pulled out a few small bits of paper and a pen. He scribbed a few words on a scrap of paper, then crumpled it up into a little ball and gave it to me. “Don’t open it yet,” he said.

I took the paper and stuck it in my pocket.

“Okay, now pick a number from 1 to 9.”

Before I went to university, I thought I was interested in genetics and molecular biology. After precisely one lecture, I realised exactly how wrong I was and became determined to switch to something more stimulating, and I eventually found myself taking experimental psychology and neuroscience lectures. Many of them were highly reductionist or focusing on development or pathology, but some were at the cognitive level, and from them and from various textbooks I knew all about how humans reason and how poor we are at understanding logic and probability and causation.

They didn’t teach us specifically about magic, but it was clear that our limited capacity for attention and our ease of being misdirected was really the key to successful magicians. I once saw David Blaine perform a bit of magic at a TED conference. I was standing about one metre away from him when he did a fairly standard card trick on a guy he was close enough to touch, and then at the end gave the guy his watch back. We were all duly impressed; we had all been watching his hands intently, wanting to be the one person who was smart enough to see the trick, to figure out the ending. But he was too good.

“3,” I said, shrugging. He noted it down on a new piece of paper.

“Your favourite colour?”

The lights had turned green. This was the perfect opportunity to escape, but I wanted to see where this was going.

“Blue.” Why not?

“Your age?”

“Uh… 28.”

“How many brothers and sisters?”


“Brother or sister?”

“Brother.” He wrote down ‘B – 1’ at the bottom of his list.

“Okay.” He looked up. “And what do you want most? Good health, good life, good fortune, good love, good family?”

I laughed. What an absurd question. “All of them,” I said.

For the first time, he laughed as well. “You have to pick one.”

“Okay then… good family.” He wrote down ‘G – F’.

He asked me for his bit of paper he’d given me at the start. I pulled it out of my pocket and handed it over, and he waved it in front of his face at precise points, and gave it back to me. “Don’t open it,” he said again. Then he began talking about how the numbers all added up and how if you combined this and that, I would figure out my fortune.

I was starting to finally get worried. I figured that he’d be asking for money shortly, and things had gone on for long enough that it was already going to be embarrassing when I left. With the lights back to green again, I backed away and said that I had to go now.

“No no no no no, we haven’t finished yet!”

“Sorry,” I said lamely.

“But you haven’t opened the paper!” he protested.

“Sorry,” I repeated behind me.

Befitting my status as a former scientist and being an avid reader of all the science blogs and such, I’m intensely suspicious of superstition. I have no problem with black cats. I deliberately walk underneath ladders. I’m sure I’ve broken at least two mirrors. But walking away from this guy, I couldn’t help but think I’d somehow cursed myself by not letting him finish his shtick; it was surely a rude thing to do, no matter how (eventually) annoying he had become.

Of course, I opened the paper. Written on it was:

0 – 28
B -1
G -F

For about three seconds, I froze.

Firstly, I thought: Wow, could it be true? Did this guy actually figure this out? Have I been completely wrong about all of this my entire life?

Secondly: Obviously not. But what are the chances of him guessing? Still pretty high – certainly not high enough to get a decent hit rate.

Thirdly: Wait a second… he must have done a classic switcheroo while I wasn’t looking! This must be the same bit of paper he’d been writing my answers on, and when he was waving it around, he’d swapped them over.

Aha. I felt proud of myself at this piece of Sherlockian deduction, then slightly sad. It was a tremendously engrossing piece of street magic; certainly not that technically impressive, but no doubt more than good enough to fool the average passerby. I wondered how much money he made by doing this. I wondered what he would have told me next.

And I wondered whether this was his life, giving other people a glimpse ahead into their lives. Giving them a certainty, proven with written evidence and without any caveats or probabilities or qualifications, that things were going to get better. I looked down at the piece of paper again, thought about whether to throw it away or not, and kept on walking.

367 Replies to “You Have A Lucky Face”

  1. Same guy just approached me and did the same thing as for other people in the comments. Liverpool street station (more specifically – close to Spital Square). Slightly fat indian guy with a moustache and infamous black wallet with pictures of his “guru” and some other people.

  2. Lol, the same thing happened to me in the Netherlands. Towards the end of his speech, he told me about the poor people in India and I told him I was helping the poor people in Africa this summer (and that is true). When he asked me for some money I told him that I didn’t have any….. then he told me to withdraw some from an ATM and I told him I left my card at home.

  3. There we go. Central London, Indian man got me. He really got me. I am not into religion or anything, but this guy here has some skills, Jesus. If it weren’t for his reaction after I gave 10£ it would have been cool, but he wanted more, way more, he wanted my 70£ worth of shirt I had just bought. Of course I said no and he asked for credit card and pointed cash machine, arguing that I would have been unlucky in life if I had not paid him. I went away eventually but he looked damn angry.

    I realize know that this is a global scam. I am wondering how this thing started out. The procedure was the same as explained by above comments. There must be plenty of them, jeez

  4. I had to Google this as I’ve just had the same experience. Sikh guy in a pinstripe suite and turban near Trafalgar Sq.

    Non threatening and not physically strong looking – so felt safe – but a strange and slightly unnerving experience all the same.

    Same sort of trick: my age, wife’s age, number of kids + gender, favourite colour, lucky number.

    Obviously a paper switch and maybe the yellow paper he handed me was beneath the page he was writing on, so the print was transferred.

    He asked me to drop the paper into his wallet and then, just as casually, to drop some money in. It was quite hypnotic. There was already a £50 note in there; an indication of what he deemed an appropriate fee.

    I said I had no money, which was true, and after a couple of requests he wished me good health and walked away.

    Glad this forum post exists to put my mind at rest!

  5. I was in Hong Kong at a trade show and was approached by a man stopping me “you have a lucky face”. Then proceeded to tell me about several years that were not good for me, some other issues with m marriage and many other topics. topics and information that were put on the small papers in my pocket also true. My thought is that there are people who have the gifts of knowledge beyond what we understand. Within that group, like any, there may be good a less than honorable. I believe the gentlemen I spoke to had a good heart and he recognized things in me that I needed to hear. Also confirmed some topics that subsequently have helped me.

    I paid him what I had, from my heart. In all of that there is nothing dark. If this is how these folks make there living, is that so terrible? The honest ones may be giving more service than a many self serving business relationships.

    Like so many things, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

    I feel blessed.

  6. I am so glad I read this and walked away. This happened to me today, man called Yogi in Bangkok city centre. Same red wallet, questions and in the end wanted 2000 baht to help his travels and showing me kids pictures explaining he supports them with the funds he raises. Big scam. Beware and thank you for the article.

  7. Happened to me one week ago in Basel, Switzerland. I kept thinking how he did the paper switch, but the paper he was writing on was different than the one I had, and he must be lightning fast. Gave him $10 but he asked for $200. I do hope hos predictions turn out to be true haha as it was all good stuff. I’m happy this thread exists!

  8. So he was right- he has traveled the world over ! I️ met him yesterday and paid dollar 50 for a front town show ! Any pictures anyone ?

  9. Hi guys this happened to me on high street kensington, he stopped 3 of us and somehow managed to convince us to sit with him somewhere public, he spent over an hour doing exact same paper trick but with much more personal details, needless to say I have reported to action fruad and will call the police, he did the same thing with 3 quotes 190, 290, 390 I ended up giving him £50 and buying him a £4 drink. Its clear as day to me now that he took a moment when I was unaware writing down the same details we just discussed from his notepad on another perfectly even sided torn bit of paper (pre cut) and switched them in my hand by taking it away momentarily and rubbing it on my forehead.

  10. I met Indian yogi today in Hong Kong: he said I have a lucky face and sort of things…. what is different from previous stories is that he asked me my fav colour and number, but keep it private and not to share with him… which obviously I did … so he wrote down smith on pice of paper and gave it to me… he asked me to open it and to my surprise I had number 7 and blue: it was exactly what I guessed in the first place … he didn’t look into my eyes much, but was looking at my forehead mostly as if he was reading info off my forehead … anyway, I gave him 300 hk dollars

  11. Our guy was in Paris today (Miromesnil, 75008)! Just kidding, obviously they are numerous to do this scam all over the world…
    FYI : I will live til 96 !

    Anyway thank you baba yoghi you made my day

  12. New lucky face member report to duty. Anyway, kind of accurate I would say, so I gave him 100 Malaysia ringgit and put into an ang pao, and before I passed the money to him, I said karma works and I hope my donation will help the needy and poor through your hand. God bless you my friend. Amitaba.

  13. Thanks for sharing, it happen to me at One Raffles Link in Singapore.
    The lucky face thingy and etc… he ask for my favourite Color, age, what’s my happiness and stress.
    Share with me about a man is jealousy of my position at work while another is will uplift my career path.
    Asked me to open the paper he gave me and WOW, it was exactly what I shared on my favourite Color, age, my happiness and stress was a carbon copy of what he had written oh his black note book.
    Ask to put 5 mins every morning to meditate.
    Ask me to make a small donation for the blind children in India.
    I parted with $10 for the entertainment this afternoon.

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