My Zipper Was Down, and Nobody Told Me
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?
Even if you didn’t have a zipper malfunction today, one way to make your day better is to read…