When I was a sophomore in college I took a drawing class. Our professor was a professional body builder, a tall black man named Willie who was one of my favorite teachers ever. His career choice seemed so opposite of what one might expect from a man of his stature but once I saw his passion, not only for drawing and ceramics, but for teaching college students, I knew he was right where he needed to be.
One day when we were learning "line drawing" he gave us a short 10 minute lecture on the process. While he was speaking I noticed that his fly was down. I'm sure everyone saw... there were about 20 students in the class. As soon as he was done with his lecture, we were getting our supplies and starting our drawings. I approached him and told him that his fly was down. He thanked me and quickly zipped up.
As soon as everyone was starting their projects, Willie asked the class how many of them had noticed his fly was down. No one answered but many chuckled and looked around as if they had noticed. He pointed out that I was the only one who told him; and how much he appreciated me for that.
In my years since then, I have had many opportunities to share in similar moments... a crumb on the face, a spill on a blouse, and one of my favorites: a booger in the nose; sometimes I was the victim of such minor embarrassments.
Remember the golden rule? Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. While it may seem awkward and impolite, you are doing others a favor by letting them know. Be respectful when letting someone know; just as you would want them to be.
Thanks to my experience years ago with art professor Willie, I will keep on closing barn doors, one at a time!