Five-ring Circus

Best Jobs at the Olympics: Surfing Jet-Ski Guy

Brisa Hennessy of Costa Rica surfs during the women's quarterfinal as two jet-ski guys look on
Brisa Hennessy of Costa Rica surfs during the women’s quarterfinal as two sentinels of the sea do their thing, at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Tsurigasaki Surfing Beach on Tuesday, in Ichinomiya, Chiba, Japan. Photo illustration by Slate. Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images.

Nominee: Surfing jet-ski guy

Where to find them: Tsurigasaki Surfing Beach

Job description: Operate a jet-ski, bob placidly in the water, stay out of the way

Why this might be the best job at the Olympics: You have a very important role. As the surfing jet-ski guy, you will sit on a jet ski out in the water during the surfing competition and watch the surfers compete. When a surfer goes down, you will—I think—spring into action, because you are—I think—the last line of defense between an imperiled surfer and the terrors of the briny deep. It is possibly up to you, surfing jet-ski guy, to zip on over and rescue that surfer before they get lost in the waves. This awesome responsibility might paralyze a lesser guy, such as the surfing rowboat guy, but you, surfing jet-ski guy, are up for the challenge. You are the hero that the Olympic surfing competition both needs and deserves.

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Your job is fun! It involves riding a jet ski. You don’t ride it very much—you mostly just sit on it as if it were a very expensive buoy—but at the start and finish of each day’s competition you can really open up the throttle. “Let’s give ’‘em a show,” you will say, as you zoom through the waves to and from your designated spot. You are basically the surfers’ opening act, surfing jet-ski guy. This job will be the means by which you will finally be able to realize your long-deferred showbiz dreams.

You might actually be a photographer or a camera operator! You might also be a die-hard surfing fan who has taken it upon yourself to obtain the “best seats in the house.” It is sort of hard to tell what your actual job is, surfing jet-ski guy, besides sitting on your jet-ski about 200 feet offshore. This vagueness gives you lots of creative latitude to write your own job description, and to potentially assume new responsibilities along the way, such as spearing fish from your jet ski, or launching fireworks from your jet ski. If you are a self-starter who thrives under minimal supervision, then you will find great success as the surfing jet-ski guy.

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As it turns out, there are actually be two of you on that jet ski, which means that I am actually describing the surfing jet-ski guys, plural. This is great news! Two are better than one. You can invite a friend to join you on your jet ski, or you can invite a stranger and create a new friendship while bobbing around together on the waves. Think of the deep conversations the two of you will share. As the surfing jet-ski guys, you will form a bond that no one will ever break and few will ever understand.

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If you are a guy who likes to get wet, then “surfing jet-ski guy” is the job for you. You will be out in the water for so long that you will compete for the title of Wettest Guy at the Olympics. This title is not an official one, and winning it will not earn you a medal, but being very wet at the Olympics is still an accomplishment that no one can take away from you. For the rest of your life, you will be able to call yourself an Olympic wetness champion.

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Why this might not be the best job at the Olympics: The fact that you do not actually ride your jet ski all that often will eventually come to bother you. As the surfing jet-ski guy, you will spend hours on end staring jealously at the surfers, well aware that you could be going much faster than them, if only you were allowed to. But you’re not allowed to, surfing jet-ski guy. In fact, as per Section D, clause xix of the latest version of the ISA Rulebook, you will be “deemed an interference” if you “[re-enter] the competition zone and [ride] a wave or [interfere] with any other competitor in any way.” The unfairness of this policy will gnaw at you until you are unable to think of anything else. As the surfing jet-ski guy, resentment will come to rule your life.

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Your job is pretty boring, to be completely honest. “A job for self-starters” is sort of a euphemism, because even the biggest self-starter on the planet would soon find it tedious to just bob in the waves all day, waiting for a surfer to get in trouble and/or get in position for a good shot. Your mind will inevitably wander as the surfing jet-ski guy, which means that it’s very likely that you won’t be prepared when the moment demands that you spring into action. You will spend the rest of your life haunted by the fact that you didn’t save that surfer and/or get that shot because you were daydreaming about enrolling in coding bootcamp or something. The guilt will eventually become too much for you to bear.

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You might get seasick! Sure, you chose a job at sea thinking you were not susceptible to that. But maybe you’re not familiar with the Japanese waters, and that combined with this heat and humidity is all just making you woozy. It is not all fun and games, bobbing in the waves all day. If you forget to fortify yourself with anti-nausea medicine, then the odds are pretty good that you, the surfing jet-ski guy, will eventually become the puking surfing jet-ski guy. The surfers will look at you with pity. The surfing rowboat guy, your nemesis, will point at you and laugh. You will burn with shame as you puke some more.

There is always the chance that you will not get along with the other surfing jet-ski guy perched atop your jet ski, in which case this dream job will soon become a nightmare. You will bicker endlessly about which one of you gets to drive the jet ski, and which one is the caboose. Your arguments will grow so loud and bitter that they will overshadow the competition. You will make the news, but not in a good way.

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If you brag about being an Olympic wetness champion, you run the risk of people misunderstanding your point and assuming that you are talking about something dirty or gross. Every surfing jet-ski guy eventually becomes a pariah.

How this could be a better job at the Olympics: The surfing jet-ski guy should be allowed to keep every fish that they can spear while perched atop the surfing jet ski.

Verdict: As a refresher, we judge the Best Jobs at the Olympics on the amount of exposure the job gets, how enjoyable the job seems to be, the job’s enviability quotient, and whether or not the job involves wearing a funny hat. I’ll give surfing jet-ski guy 1 out of 3 points for exposure, because it’s honestly a real problem that we don’t actually know what surfing jet-ski guy’s actual job is, or whether or not the surfing jet-ski guy is even a guy. 1.5 out of 3 points for enjoyability, because it would be a better job if the surfing jet-ski guy were allowed to shoot off some fireworks every now and then. 2 points out of 3 for enviability, because, all other things being equal, I think we’d all rather be on a jet ski than not be on a jet ski. And 0.5 out of 1 in the category of Does this job require you to wear a funny hat?, because while it does not appear to be a job requirement, I doubt that anyone would mind if the surfing jet-ski guy did wear a funny hat. 5 out of 10 points for the surfing jet-ski guy. This is currently the best job at the Olympics.

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