When Fate Comes Calling, You Better Have Your Cell Phone On

February 25, 2010

Every bench warmer, backup quarterback, and fat kid forced to play deep right field in gym class dreams of getting a chance to shine in the big game. And although it pretty much never happens (sorry, Disney), for one Olympic alternate that opportunity presented itself yesterday. If only he hadn’t turned his phone off just before getting the call that could have changed his life.

Patrick Beckert was the substitute for the 1,000 meter (or 3,000 feet, if the metric system is too confusing) speed skating race at the 2010 Winter Games. Essentially, this meant that if another athlete was unable to compete due to injury, drug overdose, or Jamaican bobsled-related bar fight, Beckert would be called in and able to go for the gold.

Well, guess what happened?

One of the Italian skaters was unable to suit up for the race. So, just as they have done several times in the past, both the Olympic organizers and team coaches called the lucky athlete to let him know the good news.

Only problem was, Beckert had turned his phone off just before the call came and missed the race entirely.

By the time he turned it back on, some other awkward foreign guy had won the gold medal and all Beckert had to show for his Olympic experience was a horrible life lesson and a series of voicemails that will probably haunt him until the day he dies.

The Olympics really are a special time.

Photo: Iconica/Getty Images