We’ve all been there. There you are minding your own business, trying to pass your professional time in such a manner as to cause the least amount of erosion to your soul, and then you see it, plain as day, poking you in the eye with its brazen insouciance: another man’s open fly. The first thought demonstrates the remarkable human capacity to meld empathy with self interest when your brain stem instantly yet thoughtlessly directs your hand to do a status check on your own fly. You realize it’s not an ideal situation for the other guy, but in an instinctual moment that would bring a smile to the scarred livers of flight attendants everywhere your nervous system unilaterally decides without conscious input from your mind that you’ll be damned if you aren’t going to fasten your own drop down oxygen mask before helping somebody else. Once you’ve confirmed the security of your own crotchal region, your thoughts inevitably take a darker turn towards introspective reflection on the distressing subject of why you were looking at another man’s fly to begin with. Were the other man’s fly on fire, illuminated by blinking neon, bedazzled, the subject of a foreign short documentary, emitting low gurgling noises, or somehow improbably highlighted in any other imaginable fashion, then you could rest easy. But the fact remains; it’s just two flaps of fabric, a woefully defunct zipper, and a meaningless poverty of closure daring you to examine your own neuroses. Best case scenario: you treat this nagging question the same way you treated that dream where you were drowning in a black eddy of a swift river only to be rescued, seconds before succumbing, by mute Ents wearing Hawaiian shirts and wraparound sunglasses; you file it under W for “WTF” and move on. So now, comfortably ensconced in your shoddily constructed mental fortress of denial and girded with the easy self assurance of one well-practiced in the art of suppressing strange thoughts, you move on to the next stage of processing the situation: Action vs. Inaction. Interpersonal inertia plays a crucial role here. Do you know the other guy? Do we bear less of a moral obligation to strangers in this instance than we do to acquaintances? Ethically speaking, no…but I really don’t want to strike up a conversation with some rando only to point out that his barn door is open. It’s so much easier fall back on an existing structure of social connection in case Marty McFly here doesn’t take kindly to the news that he’s failed in one of the most basic tasks of the average man’s day, or the necessary implication that another dude was peeping his area. Of course, the obvious solution is to use non-verbal communication to draw the man’s attention to his botched attempt at trouser usage, but then you run the risk of fondling yourself in a public setting before a bewildered and increasingly fearful fellow human being whose only crime was forgetfulness and being stuck in an elevator with an obvious nutjob who doesn’t want use words to tell him about his zipper. Then a bell rings, the lights indicate the fifth floor, the doors slide open, and you walk back to your cube to ponder the episode for the rest of the day.