Five-ring Circus

Best Jobs at the Olympics: Luge Track Patroller

You make lugers feel seen and protected. You are important. You are the envy of luge fans everywhere.

The luge track patroller highlighted beside the track as a luge competitor zooms down the track next to her.
A luge sentinel. Photo illustration by Slate. Photo by Justin Peters via NBC.

Nominee: Luge track patroller

Where to find them: Yanqing National Sliding Center in Beijing

Job description: Patrol the luge track, stand on a catwalk next to the luge track, observe the luge competition

Why this might be the best job at the Olympics: You have a very important role. As track patroller, you will stand on a catwalk near the track at the Sliding Center and wait for something unusual to happen. If and when it does, you will spring into action, rendering aid to the best of your ability and/or summoning outside assistance. If and when something unusual doesn’t happen, then you will just stand there, as still as a statue, watching the lugers zoom past, one by one and sometimes two by two, but never three by three. If they were to zoom past three by three, well, that would count as something unusual, and you would spring into action. Your job involves a lot of standing, and occasional springing.

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Though your title is luge track patroller, most of the time you will be more like a luge track observer. You will observe the luge in a strictly professional capacity, never waving, never reaching out your hand for a passing high-five. Your steadfast presence will soon become a comfort to the Olympic lugers, who may well feel overshadowed by their more prominent teammates who compete in better-known sports. “We might not have the ratings or the endorsements, but at least we have our faithful track patroller,” they will tell one another. “At least the track patroller is always watching.” As track patroller, you will make the Olympic lugers feel seen.

You have the “best seat in the house” for one of the most exciting sports in the Olympic programme. Plus, your job is basically to just stand there and watch. As track patroller you will be the envy of the many luge fans from all over the world who, because of COVID-19 restrictions, cannot themselves travel to Beijing to watch the luge in person. You may eventually be asked to appear on a popular luge podcast to recount your thrilling experiences. Your rarified experience will mean that when you are at social events in the future, you will be able to dine out on your stories about your time patrolling the 2022 Olympic luge competition, which everyone will listen to with rapt attention and curiosity.

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“Best seat in the house” is really just a turn of phrase, and not a particularly accurate one at that, because you do not actually have a seat, per se. In fact, if you hate and fear sitting, then track patroller is the job for you, because there’s not a chair to be found in your small stretch of the catwalk. Your calf muscles will get a real workout during your shifts as track patroller. Eventually, you will go on a popular calf-muscle podcast to recount how your calves got so big. “I owe it all to my temporary job as track patroller,” you will say. Your candor will spark a very odd fitness craze. You will be paid handsomely to endorse standing desks and treadmill desks that boast of your professional Olympic approval.

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As track patroller, you will stand near a rectangular box on a post, as if you are guarding it. The box features a pictogram of a featureless human head sheathed by a pair of what look like headphones, presumably indicating that there is a telephone inside the box, or perhaps a pair of warm earmuffs. It will be up to you to ensure that this phone and/or these earmuffs are not used frivolously. It might also be up to you to use the phone and/or earmuffs to call for help in case of disaster or render aid in case of cold ears. This box will be your bailiwick.

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In your patrolling capacity, you will play a very, very small role in ensuring the integrity of the Olympic luge competition. If, for example, a luger were to spontaneously leap off of his sled coming out of the turn and, claiming cold ears, make a break for the earmuff box, it would be your duty to spring into action and thwart his chilly plan. You will, in turn, be thanked profusely by the luge judges, and perhaps be made out to be something of a hero. You will politely decline these accolades. “All in a day’s work for me, the track patroller,” you will say.

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Why this might not be the best job at the Olympics: Though your job involves watching, it is not entirely clear if you have a good view of the luge. You tend to stand parallel to the luge track and face straight ahead, looking off at some spot in the distance rather than at the exciting luge action happening right off to the side. If you cannot actually see the luge very well, then this would make you less a luge observer than a luge listener, which is a much less exciting job.

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Track patroller is a lonely job. Unlike other, non-luge-based jobs that involve patrolling, you do not have a partner with whom you can banter and for whom you would lay down your life. During your long shifts, you will daydream about how fun it would be to work with a grizzled old patroller who doesn’t take any shit from anyone and is only 10 days from retirement. Then you will realize that, this being a temporary position, you are all 10 days away from retirement. You may soon get depressed and wish even harder that you had a partner in whom you might confide. The loneliness will overwhelm you.

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For the sake of professionalism, “look but don’t touch” must be your motto while you are observing the luge. If you are a “people person,” you may well find this restriction very frustrating. “Why can’t I pat their backs as they zoom past? The lugers would love it,” you will say. When you decide to test your thesis, you will be surprised to find that the lugers do not, actually, love it. You will ruin the luge competition and get fired from your temporary job. You’ll be asked to appear on a popular luge podcast, but not in a good way.

If you are a lazybones who hates standing, then luge track patroller is not the job for you. You will spend your shifts searching in vain for some surface on which to sit and/or lean. You will not risk it, though, because you know that you are in a surveillance state (though in fairness, who isn’t?), and thus there is a nonzero chance that the luge track is in some sense also patrolling you. You will feel stymied because of this. You will live out your days as a stymied luge patroller with aching legs.

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There is a chance that you might panic if and when crisis strikes, mistakenly using the phone in the box to treat a cold-ears emergency, or using the earmuffs to call for help in case of an accident. You will live in fear of one day becoming the “laughingstock of the luge.”

How this could be a better job at the Olympics: The luge track patroller could be promoted to luge track detective and get to solve luge mysteries, such as “How does luge work?”

Verdict: As a reminder, we score all of our Best Jobs at the Olympics candidates on the amount of exposure a job gets, how enjoyable the job seems to be, the job’s enviability quotient, and whether or not the worker gets to wear a funny hat. I’ll give luge track patroller 2 out of 3 for exposure, because even the most popular luge podcasts are not objectively all that popular. 1 out of 3 for enjoyability, because, man, would it kill the venue operator to give the patroller a chair? 1.5 out of 3 for enviability, because while you will be in close proximity to the “two Tobis” and other famous luge celebrities, you will never get to shake their hands. And 0.5 out of 1 in the funny hat category, because while there is nothing immediately funny about the hat you are wearing, it might be one of those jokes where you have to think about it before you get it. 5 out of 10 for the luge track patroller. This is currently the best job at the Olympics.

Previous nominees for Best Job at the Olympics:
Surfing Jet Ski Guy
Robot
Figure Skating Stuffed Animal Wrangler
Curling Measuring-Device Guy

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