A Holiday Guide to Scamming Christmas Ghosts
Like most people, I am constantly threatened by the possibility of ghosts appearing in the middle of the night, shrieking dire warnings of pain and misfortune that I will soon suffer as a result of all my hilarious malevolence.
This happens to you guys too, right?
You just don't write for Cracked as long as I have without committing some petty morally dubious acts, and even though the courts of this land have yet to find a way to do something about me, there's nothing stopping authorities from a higher realm from stepping in. Due to fluctuations in the Spiritual Jingle Index, the barrier between our planes is always weakest during the holiday season, and not a Christmas goes by without me being visited by upwards of eight ghosts, eager to show me the error of my ways. They're kind of mean about it, actually.
"OOOOOOOH YOU ARE THE BANE OF ALL REALMS, DICK."
This year, though, I stood prepared to greet them and turn their horrible wailing to my advantage. I present a transcript of my encounters to you, the hate-filled business owners that make up the bulk of Cracked's readership, in the hopes that you will find a way to use this information to maximize your own profit potential this holiday season.
The Ghost of Christmas Past
Christmas ghosts love to show you visions of things in the hope that this flood of new information will influence your behavior. The trick to taking advantage of their nosiness, then, is to use the opportunity of seeing things you wouldn't normally have seen to guide your business decisions. From that perspective, it would seem like the Ghost of Christmas Past is the least useful ghost, seeing as she shows you only things that have already happened. But I managed to find a way around this.
-A shimmer appears in my small, cramped bedroom. The Ghost of Christmas Past appears before me-
Me: Oh no! A ghost!
It's polite to express a token amount of fear when greeting a ghost.
Ghost of Christmas Past: I have come to offer you a chance to save yourself from the wretched path you are on.
Me: Nice, nice. Looking forward to it.
-The Ghost of Christmas Past squints at me funnily. The room shimmers, taking us somewhere else-
Me: Where are we?
Ghost of Christmas Past: This is your past, Bucholz. Look at yourself. What you're doing for your family. You were not always the selfish man you are now.
-Before us, a younger me takes Christmas presents from a large bag and sets them down underneath a tree. Indeed, it does look very heartwarming and generous-
Me: This looks heartwarming and generous as shit, doesn't it?
-The gifts placed, Past Me then starts to fill the sack back up with the Christmas gifts that were already underneath the tree-
Ghost of Christmas Past: What is going on?
Me: If you just take the gifts, they notice right away. By leaving big, empty boxes, they won't notice until Christmas Day. It's funnier that way.
Ghost of Christmas Past: You're stealing from your own family?
Me: This isn't my house.
Ghost of Christmas Past: Holy shit.
Me: This is how I paid for college.
Ghost of Christmas Past: That doesn't justify it at all.
Me: But what if I told you that "college" is what I called Ketamine.
Ghost of Christmas Past: Jesus.
I used the Ketamine to get through my day job, driving a school bus.
Ghost of Christmas Past: -checks notes- It says here you were good once. Maybe if we went back further?
Me: No, I was a bit worse before this. What is this, 2001? Yeah, this is probably me at peak niceness here.
Ghost of Christmas Past: This can't be right.
Me: Maybe I get better if I can send a warning to myself at this young, impressionable age?
Ghost of Christmas Past: That's not how this is supposed to work.
Me: Come on. Be cool.
Ghost of Christmas Past: What do you have in mind?
Me: Just make me sort of ghostly transparent, and I'll shriek a warning to the young me to mend my ways.
Ghost of Christmas Past: OK.
-A ghostly shimmer descends over me, making me somewhat less transparent-
Me: -shouting, quickly- HEY ME. IT'S YOU, FROM THE FUTURE. LISTEN. I'VE TRICKED A STUPID GHOST INTO HELPING US. THE PATRIOTS WIN THE SUPER BOWL THIS YEAR. NEXT YEAR'S THE BUCS. THEN THE PATRIOTS WIN THE NEXT TWO.
Ghost of Christmas Past: Hey!
Me: -wrestling with the Ghost of Christmas Past- BUY STOCK IN APPLE RIGHT NOW. YES, APPLE. SHORT WORLDCOM. FLIP HOUSES LIKE A MOTHERFUCKER UNTIL 2007, THEN GET OUT.
Ghost of Christmas Past: Stop it!
Me: INVENT SMARTPHONES.
-The scene fades away, as Past Me nods, taking furious notes-
The Ghost of Christmas Present
The Ghost of Christmas Present is kind of a dink. His thing is that he really likes to show you all the fun other people are having talking shit about you. This is a pretty transparent attempt to make you regretful, and you're well within your rights to turn it right back on him.
-The lights dim in my lushly appointed penthouse apartment. A faint howling sound as the Ghost of Christmas Present appears before me-
Me: Eek! A scary ghost!
I wasn't actually that scared.
Ghost of Christmas Present: Don't patronize me. I was just talking to the Ghost of Christmas Past. Did you know she's crying right now because of what you did?
Me: -Lighting a cigar with a smartphone that I had previously set on fire- I did not know that, no.
Ghost of Christmas Present: Not cool, man. Now, listen. If you knew the impact you were having on those around you, I'm certain you'd change your ways. I'm going to show you what your employees are doing right now.
Me: Nice, nice.
-The room shimmers. We appear in the cramped but warm home of my employee, Rob Patchet. He and his family sit at a table around a couple stained McDonald's bags-
Me: Ugh. This is depressing. You couldn't show me the Christmas Eve a bunch of lingerie models are having?
Ghost of Christmas Present: Just watch.
Rob Patchet: I'm sorry we couldn't get the 20-piece. My awful boss, Mr. Bucholz, wouldn't give me my Christmas bonus this year.
Ghost of Christmas Present: Do you see how much your own employee hates you?
Me: Is that what you came to show me? You went to all this effort to have people insult me behind my back to my face? Isn't that kind of childish?
Ghost of Christmas Present: Well ...
Me: The Ghost of Christmas Past was right about you.
Ghost of Christmas Present: WHAT DID SHE SAY!? I WILL FU- ... oh. I get it. You are just the worst.
Me: I'm trying. And, honestly, this isn't so bad. "Awful boss"? That's nothing.
A Small, Trembling Child: You work so hard, father. It is a shame that coarse-palmed sack wanker doesn't treat you better.
Me: Oh! OH! Oh shit! That's better! I like this kid's moxie. Uh, the kid, there? The one flashing gang signs?
Ghost of Christmas Present: It's Michael, and he's weak from hunger.
Me: Well, yeah. The 10-piece McNuggets is a terribly poor value. Patchet should manage his money better. After the holidays, I'm going to lecture him a bit on financial management.
Ghost of Christmas Present: That's an assholey way to do something generous, but it is technically generous.
Me: Lectures that I'll charge him a reasonable amount for.
Ghost of Christmas Present: Holy shit.
Me: Which will be a nice little income supplement for me over the holiday season.
Ghost of Christmas Present: You're a monster.
Me: No, monsters have fur and ... oh, you meant the metaphorical kind. Yeah, a bit, then, sure. Anyways, that awesome little kid there. Trembling Todd? How much do you think he's worth to Patchet? Like, if you had to put a dollar figure on it.
Ghost of Christmas Present: -hate-filled stare-
Me: A dollar?
-The Ghost of Christmas Present howls, and the scene disappears-
The Ghost of Christmas Future
The Ghost of Christmas Future cribs a lot from the Ghost of Christmas Present's playbook, in that he tries to show you how much the world hates you when you're gone, even though it frankly makes less sense when coming from the future. When you're gone, you're gone, and if the eggheads want to make you into a "villain" or a "child-endangering villain" in their history books, well, let them. All that matters to you is that you lived like a king, sleeping on a mattress stuffed with smartphones.
But, any glimpse into the future is a valuable opportunity, so when the Ghost of Christmas Future comes to visit you, be sure to keep an eye out for any sports almanacs or inventions you can steal and return to your time with.
-A deep chill descends over my lush and tastefully decorated apartment. The sinister form of the Ghost of Christmas Future appears before me-
Me: Egads! Yet another terrifying ghost!
It's important to not roll your eyes. They're trying their best.
Ghost of Christmas Future: Silence, fool!
Me: Seriously, the chains are a nice touch. Or did you die in an S&M dungeon?
Ghost of Christmas Future: I am paying the price for my own misdeeds. A cruel fate, but one that pales beside what you are yourself bound for. Tremble!
-The room fades. We're standing at a funeral. No one is crying. Several people appear to be celebrating-
Me: This is my funeral, right? That's what you wanted to show me? That I'm so hated that people will be doing windmill, Top Gun-style high-fives at my funeral?
Ghost of Christmas Future: That doesn't alarm you? That you're so hated?
Me: Being loved doesn't do anyone much good once they're dead. -looks around- What year is this, anyways? Who won the Super Bowl last year?
Ghost of Christmas Future: Shut up. This is one year in the future.
Me: I die within a year? Hmmm.
Ghost of Christmas Future: Not so cavalier about it now, are you?
Me: I guess not. How do I die?
Ghost of Christmas Future: Knife wounds.
Me: Nice, nice.
Ghost of Christmas Future: Nice? That you're so hated that someone would knife you to death?
Me: No, because that's awesome. So intimate. To inspire knife attacks. Also, because that kind of fate is super preventable. I'll just hire a bodyguard or start wearing mithril wherever I go.
Mithril: the perfect gift for the hated business owner on your shopping list.
Ghost of Christmas Future: The malice you inspire in the hearts of men will not stop at knives. Whether by poison or bullets or angry, pecking birds, your enemies will find a way to end you.
Me: -scratches chin- You're right. You may have showed me the way to avoid one death, but you can't show me how to avoid them all.
Ghost of Christmas Future: No, I cannot.
Me: What if you help me?
Ghost of Christmas Future: I will never help you, villain.
Me: Not even if I can find a way to use my skills to free you from your bonds?
Ghost of Christmas Future: Your skills? What use are your skills to one of my nature?
Me: I've been hustling ghosts all night. Listen. -I bend down to scratch up my plan in the ghostly dirt- We call the Ghost of Christmas Past up. When she arrives, we bind her with your chains, and then use her to travel back into the past and stop you from the misdeed you're repaying.
Ghost of Christmas Future: -the color drains from his already very pale face- That could work.
Me: Of course it will work. Then, you give me your gifts so I become the new, part-time Ghost of Christmas Future. Then you go rest for eternity, while I reign over this plane as an immortal.
Ghost of Christmas Future: I like it. OK. Hang on a second.
-The room shimmers. The Ghost of Christmas Past appears-
Ghost of Christmas Past: Hey Larry, what's up ...
Me: Get her!
Ghost of Christmas Past: OH GOD NO.
Chris Bucholz is a Cracked columnist and reigns over this plane as an immortal. His first novel, Severance, is incredible and available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Apex Books. Join him on Facebook or Twitter.
For more from Bucholz, check out 5 TV Moments That Caused Bizarre Real-World Consequences. And then check out The 30 Most Incredible Gifts You Can Actually Buy.
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