Monday, March 24, 2014

A Case of the Popping Button (StoredStory #11)

Zippers and buttons, though small parts of our garments, are quite significant. A zipper or button has the power to change things for you really fast.  When I transferred to a customer service position at a bank, I was shadowing Angela, a fellow a customer service rep during my training. Around mid-morning, a customer walked up to us. She had on a long, navy trench coat that was open. Under that was a solid button blouse.

In the midst of our interaction with her, one of the blouse's buttons took on a mind of its own. The button holding together the fabric over her boobs decided to come loose. So, here we were, listening to this customer's serious concern, yet her brazier and cleavage became exposed. Angela, who was training me, said lightly, "Your blouse," as she delicately pointed her pen toward the woman's chest. The lady, in mid sentence, looked down, fastened the wily button back and continued with whatever she was saying.

Well, the button wouldn't have it. It defiantly undid itself and stuck out its tongue. Bad button, I thought. "Ma'am, your button again," Angela politely interrupted. This time the lady put down her things on the desk and used both hands to re-fasten her shirt. She began once more, not undone by this continued problem.

Wouldn't you know it? The button popped the blouse open again. I stifled a chuckle as I noticed a grin play at the corners of Angela's mouth. This time the customer didn't even need us to tell her that her button had once again come undone. Frustrated, she grabbed both sides of her blouse, pulled them together, and clamped her fist over that devilish button as if she were smothering it.

Angela and I had a nice chuckle over the incident after the customer left. Then my own fiascos with zippers or buttons came to mind.  Poor lady, I thought. I began thinking of that time in fourth grade when I had to be in front of the classroom. Fourth graders are so honest to their peers. A resounding "You're fly's unzipped" reverberated around the room. This was too much for my easily embarrassed fourth grade self; I cried. We had a substitute that day, and she tried to comfort me by telling her own story of her unzipped fly at a ball game filled with tons of people.

Of course, all the comedy or concern with buttons and zippers has to do with what they are keeping hidden, so we use metaphor to talk about them. "You've left the barn door open." The unspoken part of this metaphor is that animals who have wills of their own are kept in barns, so I we tend to think of certain body parts in the same way.

And sometimes things we wish were hidden, aren't. Like what people think or say. We sometimes want to tell people who gab annoyingly to "zip it!" or "button it!" So the fly itself become a metaphor for the mouth, or more precisely how we wish the mouths on other people were under our control with a simple fastening movement.

Yet, many things in life remain hidden except in certain circumstances. And that can make all the difference when something is revealed. Zippers and buttons are emblems of our hidden lives. But, unlike many tools of best kept secrets, when zippers or buttons fail, it's cause for a good laugh or commiseration.

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