LILBURN -- The first time a spirit spoke to Chip Coffey, he brushed it off.
He and a co-worker had worked late one Friday evening and were passing each other in a parking deck when, he said, that co-worker's deceased brother spoke to him.
"All of the sudden inside my head I heard, 'Tell Pam hello for me,'" Coffey remembered. "I ignored it. Then, shortly thereafter, a minute, a minute and a half, a little more demandingly, 'Tell Pam hello for me.'
"I ignored it again. I thought, 'Chip you are going out of your mind.'"
That first spirit, however, was not easily dissuaded and ignoring it a second time didn't make the voice go away, he said.
"It felt like an afterthought in my brain and it felt like it didn't belong to me," Coffey remembered. "The third time he said it, he was demanding, 'Tell Pam hello for me.' Finally, I did."
Coffey's co-worker didn't believe at first that her brother was speaking to Coffey and asked for more details, details Coffey couldn't know any other way. After answering a few of her questions, particularly what she was wearing the last time she saw her brother alive, Coffey said she believed.
It was a conversation -- interdimensional transcommunication, as he calls it -- that opened up a world of possibilities for the Lilburn resident.
"It was like someone jump-started something, a floodgate opened and it's been a blessing," he said. "It's the greatest thing that has ever happened to me."
Coffey has spent the past decade making a career out of his abilities. He has appeared on the A&E Network reality television series "Paranormal State" and has hosted "Psychic Kids: Children of the Paranormal," a series that follows children with emerging psychic abilities.
On Saturday, the Gwinnett resident will host a gallery reading at Coolray Field, attempting to communicate with guests' deceased relatives.
Not only does Coffey act as a medium between the living and the dead, he has possessed psychic abilities, he said, since he was a child.
"Even prior to my conscious memories, I'm told I would look at the phone and know when the phone sometimes was going to ring, who would be calling, if people were going to show up at our house unannounced," he said. "It was really simple sort of precognitive things."
Abilities like this, Coffey said, aren't uncommon in his family, leading him to believe there could be a genetic link. Coffey's maternal great-grandmother was a Native American medicine woman he said was fairly well known in the South in the early part of the 20th century. His grandmother on his father's side read tea leaves and his mother also possesses psychic abilities.
"When (my parents) had a psychic kid, they weren't overly shocked," Coffey said.
But Coffey's abilities, the way he receives information, how he communicates with the dead, aren't processes he can easily explain.
"It's just there. It's in my head," he said. "Sometimes it's video, sometimes it's images, sometimes it's parts of songs, sometimes it's quote from books or images from movies and it can come to me in so many different ways and it's just there. I don't know how I know it but I know I know it."
While he might have an unusual job, working as a psychic and medium, Coffey said he leads a normal life here in Gwinnett.
"I am not Chip Coffey, psychic/medium, 24/7. I'm on airplanes, I have grass to mow, I have laundry to fold, I have a dishwasher to unload, garbage to take out, Wal-Mart shopping to do," he said. "I live my life just like everybody else does. I lead my life here and when I'm working I'm working, when I'm not I'm not. Do I consider myself special? No."
One of Coffey's passions outside the realm of the paranormal is animal rescue -- he has four dogs he has rescued over the years, one he found roaming around Buford starved and another he saw running in traffic in Lilburn. Coffey is a strong supporter of Angels Among Us, a pet rescue organization based in north Georgia.
"Rescue an animal, save an animal," he said.
For more information on Chip Coffey, visit his website at www.chipcoffey.com.