The Money Shot: Observing Casual Cruelty in the Workplace

The Money Shot
The Money Shot

I’m an assistant manager at a large retail bookstore (let's be honest Barnes and Noble is the only one left) and today I cashiered with one of my male employees. He's young, in his mid-twenties, and I'll admit he's a charismatic and attractive guy. When he took his post at the register next to mine, I immediately noticed that his fly was down. Wide open in fact. That little flap that normally keeps you covered behind the zipper simply wasn't there (as the picture clearly indicates), and as a result his colorful boxers, which starkly contrasted his dark grey pants, were painfully visible. I tensed up-- at a loss for what to do. I knew that I SHOULD tell him. But I really didn't want to suffer the awkwardness. I mean, we’re friendly and all but we hardly know each other. Unfortunately it was an easy decision for me: I said nothing and acted cool, involuntarily cracking a cruel smirk as I stationed him to his very public post. The truth was that the sight was strangely titillating, and I chose to savor it while I had it, knowing that one of our customers would eventually let him know and end my secret show. That's what I expected, at least.

His first customer was a petite Indian women, and she was immediately taken aback by the sheer catastrophe that was my employees open fly. The desks we're behind are split at two levels, and the lower half is on our end. That means that people basically have an unblemished view of our crotches. You see--this normally isn't a problem. But obviously today it put Mr. oblivious in a terribly embarrassing situation. While he was distracted scanning this woman's books, she gawked, wide-eyed at his scantily-clad bulge. Her responses to his sales spiel were stilted and curt, and she took every opportunity she could get to stare indignantly. As a guilty bystander, I admittedly felt a tinge of second-hand embarrassment for my oblivious employee. But the novelty of this interaction was fascinating, and I took a rather sick pleasure in being its coy antagonist.

Barnes and Noble's clientele is decidedly older women, and they proved to be just as apprehensive to tell a young man that his zipper is wide open as me and that lady were. Customer after customer, he stood there and exposed his boxers and sizable bulge to lonely old women buying books (no offense to B&N shoppers). Whenever he propositioned them to donate a book to our county book drive, he stepped back, further exposing his gaping zipper, and turned his head to tell them about our generous selection on the shelves behind him. He even ended his spiel with a comical ‘take a gander’, prompting them to study the titles so they could donate a book they liked. Every one of them took the opportunity to glance down instead of over, and most had the sensibility to chuckle at the conspicuous irony. Even more hilariously, this reaction encouraged him to continue using the line! It was all so delicious. My favorite reaction was when they pulled out their phones and discreetly took pictures during the lengthy sales prompts we have to stumble through. This was surprisingly more common than you would expect and I’m sure my employee was the unwilling subject of many Instagram and tumblr posts.

Three hours. That's how long I cashiered with him. And during that time I went out of my way to prevent him from noticing, just to prolong my entertainment. I restocked his bags and emptied his trash (coincidentally putting my face within a foot of his crotch.) I figured that other men would be more inclined to point it out to him, so I staggered the line so the few male customers we had went to my register instead of his. I distracted him with conversation and mundane tasks so he wouldn't notice. I took pictures on my phone like all the other deviants. The one posted here is but one of many. At one point another employee of mine noticed, literally from 20 feet away, and she dutifully whispered to me that my guys fly was wide open, implying that I should alert him when it was tactful. With my utmost sympathy, I assured her I would. Did I? Of course not.

A conclusion you can fairly draw from this experience is that I’m a bitch. That’s fair. But so are all the other women who didn’t point out his fashion faux pas. And after what I’ve witnessed today, I’d wager that most of you girls out there are no better than us. At the end of the night, after his five hour shift, his fly was still down. Nobody told him. None of his customers. none of his coworkers. No one. I couldn’t help but smile when I bid him a good night.


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