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My Zipper Was Down, and Nobody Told Me

February 23, 2016
Yeah, my zipper is down, but why are you looking at it? (image via wikimedia)

Yeah, my zipper is down, but why are you looking at it? (image via wikimedia)

Today was a good day until I realized my zipper was down.  It was right after lunch, and I was still wired after a couple late morning cups of coffee.  A bunch of co-workers had gathered into an office, and everybody was talking politics.  Usually I stay out of these conversations because they can go bad very quickly, but I made a risky humorous comment about one of the presidential candidates, and everybody laughed, including people who liked that particular candidate.    I was feeling pretty good afterward until I walked past a mirror and noticed a gap in my pants.

What the hell?

I didn’t say “What the hell?” but it was a “What the hell?” moment.  It’s best to keep quiet during a “What the hell?” moment.  If you say “What the hell?” out loud, everybody will notice, but if you keep quiet, it’s possible to escape with dignity.  At that point, there was nothing I could do anyway.  Dignity was out of the question.

Everybody who could have noticed had probably already noticed, so I simply fixed the problem right there and moved on.  But I was ticked off, and I had good reason to be.  First of all, nobody had told me about the zipper during the political discussion in the office.  I know everybody in the office saw it.  They couldn’t have helped but see it.  I had been standing up front for everybody to see.

I can understand why no women pointed out my zipper.  It would have been an awkward moment.  Plus, an obnoxious guy might have said: “Why are you looking at his zipper?”  No woman wants to have that conversation.  But guys should bail other guys out.  I believe in same-gender bailouts.  A guy should pretend to not see a woman’s wardrobe malfunction (and vice-versa), but guys should rescue other guys.

A few years ago, I told another co-worker about his open fly.  I mumbled my warning to him as I passed him in a lobby, and he swung his briefcase in front of him and quickly turned a corner.  When I saw him a few minutes later, he gave me a nod.  I like to think that I saved his reputation that day.  I’m kind of ticked off that nobody paid it forward for me today.  I got shafted on the pay it forward.

Pay it forward is such a crappy concept because it relies on other people reciprocating a good deed (instead of doing something just because it’s right).  If my co-workers can’t tell me that my fly is down, then they can’t be trusted with the concept of pay it forward.  Maybe I should intentionally walk around at work with my zipper down just to see who tells me.  Then I know whom I can trust.  But that can backfire.  If nobody tells me, then I’ll have the reputation at work as the guy who walks around with his zipper down.  That might be my reputation already, and I just don’t know it.

I’ve had other bad malfunctions in my life, and they haven’t always involved the wardrobe.  In high school when I asked a girl to prom, I had something hanging out of my nostril and didn’t know it until our conversation was over; the girl didn’t say anything to me about my nose malfunction, and she said no to the prom date.  I think she told her friends because several girls smirked at me the next day.  About a decade ago, I had broccoli stuck in my teeth for about an hour after lunch.  Broccoli in the teeth is gross, so that’s worse than a zipper.  Luckily, I’m a quiet guy, so I don’t talk much, and only a few people would have noticed the food malfunction, but that’s still worse than a zipper.

I’m also ticked off because now I think my co-workers weren’t laughing at my political quip.  They were laughing at my zipper.  It bugs me that my sophisticated commentary was ruined by a low-brow malfunction.  Then again, maybe my comment wasn’t as bipartisanly funny as I thought it was.  Maybe it was actually biased, and the only thing that saved me was my zipper.  Perhaps my zipper saved my office from becoming politically fractured.  I’ve worked in a politically fractured office before, and it’s not fun.  People usually get fired, and if you’re on the wrong side politically, you’d better get your resume ready.  Maybe my undone zipper saved jobs.

Even if that’s true, I’m not sure how I could have forgotten to take care of my zipper.  It’s usually automatic.  It’s like walking out of my house without shoes.  I’ve never walked out of my house without shoes.  I’ve never lost my keys or my wallet or my phone either.  I’m a man of routine, and one of those routines involves pulling up the zipper whenever I put on pants.  If I start forgetting my zipper, I don’t want to know what’s next.  The zipper is fundamental.

I don’t think I need to worry about a declining mental state just because I forgot my zipper, though.  I have a lot on my mind.  My job keeps me busy, I have a family to take care of, and I try to keep up with reading, writing, and watching TV too.  It’s a lot to keep track of.  With so much on my mind, I’m lucky it’s just my zipper that I forgot.

Even so, I really hope this was a one-time deal.  And if it’s not, I hope somebody tells me next time.


How would you tell somebody that his zipper was down?  What other malfunctions could cause an awkward situation?  How many times should a person pay it forward without being being paid forward before giving up?

From → Dysfunctileaks

  1. That definitely sucks. I usually try to tell someone if I notice a wardrobe malfunction such as an undone zipper or a bra strap on the loose and what have you. My recent malfunction were my pants tearing up on my butt. This happened at some point in church and I of course never heard or felt it. I was none the wiser. I was working with the media dept that day was standing on a stool and getting off thus having my behind all up in the air at awkward angles and of course everyone would have noticed the tear. But no one said a thing. Saw it right when I got home and I was mortified. Then I was like all well, I am home now. Can’t get any worse.

    • I don’t know. I try not to be judgmental, but somebody probably should have warned you. I’m not sure how it could have been done subtly, but somebody probably should have tried.

  2. This is hilarious. I’ve totally caught myself overanalyzing these types of situations before. If you’re a woman, the bra strap situation is similar, if not worse.

    • I hope that by overanalyzing, I can prevent this from happening again. I’m not sure if it works that way, though. Overanalyzing might just make it more likely to happen, or it might not have any effect at all. Maybe a study should be done about the effects of overanalyzing.

  3. Funny story with a moral. Excellent writing. You nailed the three act concept.

  4. Haha love this. Genius post!

  5. Hey, there is something to look forward to. It gets worse with age.

  6. Raney Simmon permalink

    That was really enjoyable to read. Thank you. 🙂

  7. Zippers sometimes unzip themselves, especially on jeans. They’re evil little blighters. So that answers the how could I have forgotten question. I’ve been known to wear unrelated shoes to work – or once a dress both inside out and back to front. The company nurse pointed that out to me! Rosie

    • “Zippers sometimes unzip themselves, especially on jeans. They’re evil little blighters.”-

      Thank you. Maybe that’s what happened, but I’m not sure that I should hope that’s what happened. I don’t want to wear pants that unzip themselves. That means I’d have to be paranoid about having an unreliable zipper. I guess that’s better than having an unreliable memory that forgets to zip zippers.

      • Didn’t like to mention this before but putting on a little weight will also cause zippers to unzip themselves, sneakily. Strategically placed safety-pin solves the problem but creates a number of others: forgetting about safety pin or safety pin bursting open to puncture waistline. Most elegant solution – purchase slightly larger, more expensive trousers. Anything’s better than an unreliable memory.

  8. I kind of get the ‘pay it forward’ thing, but really, people should just be better to each other because it’s the right thing to do. I’m afraid I AM judgemental and notice these things – I notice when other people are only ever interested in talking about themselves and don’t bother to enquire about me or mine iduring a conversation – I notice when a co worker is very happy to help themselves to snacks I take into work but never ever brings some in in return. I may not do much in retaliation, but that person’s metaphorical card is given a black mark.
    And someone really should have told you. It’s a man thing – like if a woman has her skirt tucked in her knickers, you kind of rely on your fellow man or woman to save your shame. It’s part of an unwritten gender pact – shame on them:)

    • I’m the type of co-worker who doesn’t eat the snacks others bring in because I know I probably won’t ever bring in snacks myself, thus becoming the type of co-worker you notice.

      But in my defense, if there’s a same-gender wardrobe (or nasal) malfunction, I’ll help out.

      • Oh, I’d have no issue with you if you didn’t want my snackage – each man’s snacking habits are his own business … Until he steals from others without coughing up the goodies in return.
        And helping with wardrobe and nasal malfunctions … It’s social Superglue – a way to bond and should never be taken lightly 🙂

  9. They should have warned you, your fellow gender sharers. They should know what that must be like. There’s no two ways about it.

  10. I had an awkward malfunction in the middle of a busy bookstore – my bra clasp-hook-thingy popped open (don’t ask me how I managed that). I was discretely trying to tell my aunt, who, at the top of her voice announced that she really didn’t understand the problem, pulled my top down from my shoulders to waist (this was back in the day (cringe) of “bodysuits”) and proceeded to clasp me back together. It took about the same time to register the shock as having my top back over my shoulders and turn a shade of red brighter than said top. Next time, I’ll keep my malfunction to myself and make a plan…

  11. hate it when that happens.

  12. Your co-workers are clearly all bad people. I hope that they do not rub off on you; you know what they say about the company you keep. Communication is one of the things that ruins marriages, friendships, businesses, so I don’t understand why they wouldn’t say something. Even as a woman, I would have bailed you out.

    When I was dating my husband, he was singing on stage at church and his fly was down the entire time, and it embarrassed ME. Granted, it wasn’t a Lenny Kravitz or Tommy Lee situation where anything escapes, and I would think the most someone would find offensive is a preppy Ralph Lauren pattern. As soon as he got off stage, someone said, “Your barn door is open,” and he pulled it up and that was that.

    But the barn door is often open, as is my son’s, who is nearly 13. As a woman, I have forgotten to zip-up less than half a dozen times in 40 yrs, but it escapes them weekly. Isn’t it a step in the process of the restroom routine? Just like handwashing? I don’t think you’re going senile, though. It’s just a male thing, like not noticing items on the eye-level shelf of the fridge or putting the seat back down.

    • greggy permalink

      Even for me it has happened…but far more worse..My pant zipper just BROKE while I was singing on the stage at church….and my pink underwear was on full display…The congregation was full of young women(around 40 in number) with only around 10 men..Am a 19yr old boy…for me this is too much to bear…but even my sister didn’t tell me about this.All I could see were a shy smile on every women’s face…Only when the service finished I discovered this…and I had to borrow tons of safety pins from my sister to hold my zip up….from then on the women started teasing me…really people should drop this attitude and be more supportive of others

      • It happens to all of us.

        • greggy permalink

          But its far more worse if u r a boy in a church full of women…I will be the object of all their jokes

          • I’m sorry that happened. In church of all places, they will surely know better than to make anyone feel humiliated.

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