Thursday, 13 September 2012


I should have known something bad was bound to happen. Earlier this week I got an email from the HR lady at work informing us of the R U OK? campaign and encouraging us to join in on the 13th of September - “When last did you ask your colleague or friend, R U OK?”. Soon after, my one colleague asked me if I was ok, and I duly informed him that he can only ask me that question on the 13th.

Anyway, the 13th arrived and I had a rather unusual start to my day - I left on time for the bus stop. I somehow missed that subtle warning. I then got to the train station and the train was on time. Again the hint was lost on me. Would you believe it, but when I got on the train I actually got a seat. By this time I should have known to rather go home and lie down because no day of mine starts that perfectly, especially not a day that falls on the 13th.

And so I continued. The sun was shining, Facebook loaded fast on my phone and nobody sitting near me on the train even farted. Needless to say I was in a good mood. I even started to whistle as I walked to the office. I waited at a red light, smiling and thinking happy thoughts. The light turned green and as I bent down to pick up my bag the smile suddenly vanished and the whistling stopped rather abruptly. The reason was that I had heard that nasty sound when two sides of a seam part ways, that unmistakable ripping sound, that sound that automatically evokes one of three responses: 

1. Hysterical laughter at the guy to the left of you who just ripped his pants.
2. Hysterical laughter at the guy to the right of you who just ripped his pants.
3. Terrifying wide-eyed panic because you just ripped your pants. 

For a split second I was not sure who the victim was, and therefore which of those automatic responses would be the most fitting. The sudden drop in temperature in my nether regions quickly confirmed the worst. I must admit there was the very briefest of moments where I actually enjoyed the cool breeze, almost like personal targeted air conditioning. That moment was short lived however, and the mood quickly changed to an almost uncontrollable panic. 

I let the other pedestrians pass and then crossed over to take refuge around the nearest corner, all the time fearing arrest for indecent exposure or causing a 5 car pileup. A quick examination of the area which moments earlier had experienced a sudden drop in temperature, confirmed my fears. The essential parts of my attire were flapping in the breeze. Now what?! I would have to get to the nearest Target store to procure a new pair of pants, but Target is at least three city blocks away.

At first I tried to use gluteus maximus to pinch and hold closed the flaps and walk using only the bits of my legs below my knees, but walking like this proved rather difficult, if not impossible. Besides, the only thing worse than ripping your pants is filling your pants, and walking like that would make me look like the latter had occurred. I soon gave up on that idea. 

I then thought I would hold it with my spare hand, but that would be certain to evoke even more attention. No, I had to be more subtle. I tried to position my bag as best I could to cover the essentials whilst still appearing natural, and hobbled along at a slight angle. How long the walk seemed! As the ordeal continued I thought back to the time I was in Shanghai with a colleague when a similar fate befell me. Fortunately I was close to a mall (a rather busy mall I might add) with a tailor, but had to sit there in my undies while the giggling girl stitched my suit pants back to an acceptable state. Oh the horror, the shame! 

Once in Target a speedy decision was made (i.e. the first pair of black pants I laid eyes on was grabbed eagerly) and I soon disappeared into a fitting room. I came out still sweating, but with a face that glowed with calm relief - my behind was covered and I was respectable once again. The girl at the checkout frowned at first when I presented a tag-sans-pants, but after a brief explanation couldn’t help but laugh when she scanned my essential purchase.

Judging by her laughter she didn’t have suicidal thoughts so I didn’t bother to ask her R U OK? If she had asked me though, I would have said “Never been better! Let the day begin!”

(This is the lighter side of R U OK?, but it’s actually a serious topic for a very good cause. To learn more, visit the R U OK? website)


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