Her underwear were tucked into her nylons, the entire right side of her rear end flashing at least fifty-percent of the room.

I’d never seen anything like it in real life. The only thing missing was a stream of toilet paper on the shoe. I wanted to get up and say something, but I was frozen, seated at an event. She was the only one standing. I thought getting up might embarrass her more, like the time I asked a male student to gently tell his peer to pull up his pants…the kid’s plumber crack looked more like a fissure…and my helper said, “Hey, kid! Say ‘no’ to crack!”

I tried to look away from this woman out of respect, but really, I should have come to her rescue.

Seeing butts is nothing new to a teacher. High school teachers see a tons of rear ends, no pun intended. We endure sagging and short-shorts on a daily basis. I’ll tell the girls, “You need to find some sweatpants.” To the guys I’ll say things like “Woah!” “Go get some food so your pants fit,” or “Ahhh, he gave me the full moon!” Once, I gave a kid an award for the perfectly executed “triple sag,” a sag so sophisticated–three layers–that it started above his waste and ended below his rear end. All that and he managed to walk to class without looking like a penguin. That’s talent.

But here was this older woman, unintentionally exposed to the world and I didn’t help. I was a bad person. It got me to thinking, what is our duty to our fellow human being?

Have I already served my bad karma for enduring the days people let me wear shirts backwards or inside out until seventh period ? Or the times I walked around conferences with so much spinach in my teeth I looked like a human takeout container for Cobb salad or someone looking for the dental convention? Maybe. If I’m lucky.

The picture of this woman is frozen into my mind. It’ll be an unconscious image for the times I deliberate about whether to continue on my way or take a moment to be helpful. I think humanity does a little too much passing by, thinking, “none of my business” when a simple extra effort could have helped another human being. I try to do the right thing, but this time I sat on my own rear end and let someone suffer.

Maybe nobody in the very large room noticed or put it on Instagram. If they did, I’d feel terrible. I’m going to be less of a bad person in the future, and find someone to help today.