How do you let someone know in public that their zipper is down?
December 12, 2003 7:02 AM   Subscribe

What do you do if you see someone with their fly unzipped in public? I spotted a well-dressed man this morning on the subway with his fly down and I felt like I wanted to warn him before he headed into work. But what, if anything, should I say? XYZPDQ (examine your zipper pretty darn quick)? Something else?
posted by megnut to Society & Culture (31 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Great question. Catch his eye, and then look directly at his crotch. If a midwestern upbringing prevents you from doing this, try to notify a nearby male. He'll have no trouble passing the message along.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 7:07 AM on December 12, 2003

Catch his eye, and then look directly at his crotch.


In your dreams, Flanders!
posted by anathema at 7:11 AM on December 12, 2003

It's all in the look. It has to be friendly, matronly, as if to say, "I'm concerned about you and your career."

Of course, this is risky if you feel you can't pull off that particular look.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 7:17 AM on December 12, 2003

Why not just catch his eye and then make little hitching-up-your-own fly motions, heavy on the knee bends.

Or, you could just point at his crotch and laugh. You know, if you were into the humilitation angle.
posted by bshort at 7:31 AM on December 12, 2003

in matters like this honesty is always just best. get his attention by speaking to him (hey! you!) and tell him his barn door is open.
posted by sporky at 7:43 AM on December 12, 2003

pointing and saying, "hey, free show!" is good ; > (or just "xyz")
posted by amberglow at 7:52 AM on December 12, 2003

catching his eye and looking at his crotch, if you're a girl or gay, is just an invitation, btw.
posted by amberglow at 7:53 AM on December 12, 2003

Response by poster: I was looking for something a little more subtle, after all, this is something to be used in public, often crowded (like rush-hour subway) situations. It seems like there needs to be a standard (beyond the grade-school standards) for this situation. Perhaps we could come up with something?
posted by megnut at 7:55 AM on December 12, 2003

The best approach is the direct approach, "Excuse me, your fly's unzipped," should do the job nicely.

Not that I've ever wandered in public with my fly open, but if I was to commit such an egregious crime against the social compact, this is how I'd like it drawn to my attention.
posted by cedar at 7:59 AM on December 12, 2003

Flanders is spot on. If you don't have a lot of confidence in your version of the look, it helps to add a slight "pointing" gesture with the head, as in, "No, seriously, there's something you should see down there."
posted by Galvatron at 8:14 AM on December 12, 2003

Stop staring at men's crotches, and you won't have to worry about it.

I think the best way is to slip him a note. He'll have a momentary smile because he thinks you have him your number, then he'll realize he just made a mistake, no harm, no foul, and no embarassment by announcing it to everyone else wherever you are.
posted by benjh at 8:16 AM on December 12, 2003

Personally I would never say a word to a strange man about an open fly. But I would tell a woman right away.
posted by oh posey at 8:16 AM on December 12, 2003

Tell him he has windows on his laptop.

Seriously, if you feel you have to say something, just say "your fly is open" quietly to him, and make a joke or smile.
posted by biscotti at 8:42 AM on December 12, 2003

Cedar's got the right idea: just be direct and discrete: "Excuse me, your fly's unzipped."

During the past month I've somehow picked up the unfortunate habit of leaving the house with my fly unzipped. Is this a symptom of one's mid-thirties? Whatever the case, there was at least one instance in which I would have been grateful if somebody would have pointed the problem out to me before I noticed it myself, a point at which was too late to have saved me from embarrassing myself.
posted by jdroth at 8:46 AM on December 12, 2003

Cedar and Roth got it.
posted by bluedaniel at 8:52 AM on December 12, 2003

" It seems like there needs to be a standard for this situation."

The problem with there being a standard is that the best way to handle things will depend completely on context.

If it's a buddy or a coworker the grade school approach is probably fine, and may actually go a long way towards defusing any embarrassment.

If you're a guy of course you'd do nothing since you'd want to be able to gloat over the embarrassment of another guy.

If you're a woman you want to make sure of many things - That it's not seen as a come on (since men are stupid), and that you don't end up more embarrassed than the person with the zipper problem.

Given your context here megnut I would suggest the direct approach. Get their attention, point, say "zipper", look away.
posted by y6y6y6 at 8:55 AM on December 12, 2003

Response by poster: Well by "standard for this situation" I mean: stranger who has unzipped fly.
posted by megnut at 9:16 AM on December 12, 2003

It depends if he's wearing underwear or not.
posted by Mossy at 9:18 AM on December 12, 2003

Let me be the first to suggest doing absolutely nothing. Odds on it won't show when he's standing up, if he's going to be sitting down anywhere important it'll be at a table, and he's bound to pee sooner or later when he'll realize and correct as necessary.

Pointing it out publicly puts him in a really really tight spot, and the best thing he can hope for from his point of view is that no one notices. A guy can't exactly reach for his crotch on the subway with the two hands necessary to do his fly up. Everyone will look. The option is to continue with your fly undone and know that at least one other person knows and is probably wondering why he isn't doing something about it. World. Of. Hurt.

Do him a favour: say nothing (at least, certainly not on the subway)
posted by nthdegx at 9:41 AM on December 12, 2003

I would look the person in the eye and say "Check your zipper." in a neutral voice, then move on. I wouldn't say it too loudly, and I wouldn't say it until I was in close earshot, so I could say it in a low voice, but not a whisper. In addition, I wouldn't use the term "fly" - too casual for someone you have never met before.
posted by lilboo at 9:48 AM on December 12, 2003

Well, what should my son have said when one of his teachers had an unzipped fly? and apparently showing, if you know what I mean. The rest of the class was snickering but this fellow was/is clueless and heaven knows how long he was unzipped? (This is high school age.)
posted by konolia at 10:32 AM on December 12, 2003

Agreed with nthdegx and lilboo.

If you are going to say something (which is its own question), then you must immediately move away. Otherwise, the poor dude is standing there, knowing his fly is down, knowing that you know his fly is down, but helpless to do anything about it because he cannot just grab his fly in public.
posted by Mid at 10:52 AM on December 12, 2003

You have to say something i think, whether it's gradeschoolish or not--it's just common courtesy. Better he's embarrassed in front of you and the people in the subway car than out on the street, or at work. And you can always zip up with one hand or turn away or cover it with a paper or briefcase or coat or scarf, even in a crowded car.

And konolia, someone should have said something in the class, but I think it would be up to a teacher's pet type, and they would probably get teased about it afterwards.
posted by amberglow at 11:10 AM on December 12, 2003

I'm going to go against the grain here and advise that it's most polite to just stay silent. I know on the rare occassion I find myself out in public with my zipper down, when I discover it my first thought is "whew, thank god nobody noticed!"
Occassionally I'll notice a friend in the same situation, and then a few minutes later the problem is fixed. Then I'm glad I didn't say anything to them, since they probably just assumed that nobody saw, and it saves them some embarassment.
posted by bonheur at 11:51 AM on December 12, 2003

I think the best method was demonstrated in The Fugitive (Harrson Ford version):

Ford is walking down the hall, trying to get away (without looking like he's trying to get away) from a cop that's talking to him.

The cop says "Hey Doc!"

Ford turns around.

The cop kind of looks at Ford's waist, points with his index finger (in a vague way, with a relaxed arm, so as not to be too obvious) and waggles his finger up and down, indicating that Ford should check the status of the item on his waist the goes up and down.
posted by o2b at 12:23 PM on December 12, 2003

Just sidle up next to him and ask "Pardon me, do you have a license to sell salami"?
posted by mr_crash_davis at 4:10 PM on December 12, 2003

Because I love to be redundant, I'll repeat what's already been said - just tell him. Is an unzipped fly especially embarrassing because it's close to the eeek! genitalia or something? I find it odd that it's perceived as a difficult or delicate situation, on either end of the exchange. bonheur?

He forgot, someone tells him, he remembers. No biggy, I don't think, unless there are 12-year-olds there, pointing and laughing at the Penis Man. Maybe that's just me, though.

Although there is the possibility he did it on purpose, in which case, I have no idea what one ought to do. Probably point and laugh with the 12-year-olds.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:53 PM on December 12, 2003

I know of a convention to be used in such cases. You go up to the poor guy and tell him "your tie is crooked." (Even if he is not familiar with the convention, telling him that has the effect of making him inspect his outfit.) I'm surprised than no one else has mentioned this, since I've seen many people use this (not necessarily on me).
posted by epimorph at 6:51 PM on December 12, 2003

I suppose it works best when the subject is not wearing a tie.
posted by anathema at 6:55 PM on December 12, 2003

Well, what should my son have said when one of his teachers had an unzipped fly?

"Omigod, I'm traumatized I'm gonna sue!" ??

I suggest looking him in the eye and saying "Flying low, bud."

That, or giggling like a maniac and shrieking "Ducks are gonna get!"

But I think my first suggestion is the better one.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:40 AM on December 13, 2003

lilboo is right.

What if I were to accidentally tucked the back of my skirt into the waistband of my tights/pantyhose, and walk around town all unaware? ...I would be forever grateful to the person who said "check the back of your skirt".
posted by taz at 6:12 AM on December 14, 2003

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