A trifling crusade

As I noted before, I’ve decided that I’m going to go barefoot a lot this summer, and not exclusively outdoors, either. I noted that, in fact, there is no Health Department regulation whatsoever that prohibits you from going barefoot inside a restaurant or similar establishment. I know this because I found a website where a couple guys wrote letters to the health Departments of all 50 States asking if there was a law. They all wrote back saying there wasn’t, and he posted all their letters on the website. So, legally I ought to have no trouble. Of course, establishments are still free to set a dress code that you have to follow if you want to enter; this usually goes along the lines of “No shirt, no shoes, no service” on a sticker on the door. They could require you to wear pink hats, if they wanted to. I read that example on a website and I liked it enough that I always say pink hats now.

I haven’t gone into enough places to get a broad range of reactions, but I’ll tell you a few things that have happened.

I’ve gone into Walgreens several times without incident, probably because they haven’t even paid attention to my feet.

I’ve gone into Graeter’s – for you out-of-towners, that’s the best ice cream company in the country – a few times. Only once did I get a reaction. That was when the manager and an employee were chatting by the door. As soon as he saw me come in, he said, “Shoes???!”

“Why?” I said.

“We just had a big health inspection! I can’t have anything happen!”

At this point I whipped out a printed copy of the Health Department letter, because I knew it would come in handy for this sort of thing. “Well, actually,” I said, handing it to him, “That’s not a law.” He glanced at it and said, “Okay. You’re free this time.” A pretty jerky way to put it, but I can understand, what with health inspections.

I also went to Skyline the other day. Out-of-towners, it would take too long to explain, so go do independent research. I had flip-flops in my pockets. (Cargo shorts.) When I walked in, the manager lady said, “Sir? You have to have shoes on to eat here.” So I shrugged and flipped and flopped into them, and ate. When I was done, I talked with her. “When I came in, as you noticed, I didn’t have shoes on. I’m wondering, Why can’t I eat without them?”

“I don’t know, it’s a Health Department rule,” she said, shrugging it off.

“I thought it might come down to that,” I said, and showed her the letter. She looked at it. Then she said, “Well, it’s our policy. I don’t know.” So I said, “Well, in that case, let me ask you – I put on these flip-flops. How exactly does that make my feet less objectionable?” She said, “I don’t know. It’s just a policy. I don’t know.” I couldn’t argue with “I don’t know,” so I said okay and left.

And finally, I went into UDF yesterday. Out of-towners, it’s a gas station and convenience store. I was getting laundry detergent. There was a managerial-looking guy, about 60 years old, and I asked him where it was. He pointed me to it, and then, suddenly noticing, said, “You have to have shoes on to come in here.”

I didn’t handle this one as articulately as I needed to. “Oh. Is – is – is there a sign on the door?”

“It’s a Board of Health regulation. You have to have shoes on.”

“Well, actually, ther – ”

“Actually, sir, you have to have shoes on,” he said, completely cutting me off.

“There is no Board of Health regula – ”

Actually sir you have to have shoes on.”

“Why?”

“Because there’s food in here! Use your head, sir!!”

“Okay, look. I’ll put my sandals on and – ”

“Okay then. All right.”

I walked out toward Mom’s car where I had my sandals. Then I reconsidered. I opened the door and hollered, “Actually, considering that reception, I’ll take my business elsewhere!”

This guy is the worst reaction I’ve gotten so far. He wasn’t even trying to be civil about it; he was just an out-and-out jackass. However, I’ll address one thing real quick. “Because there’s food in here! Use your head, sir!!” Well, if he had used his, he’d notice that what he said didn’t make a whole lot of sense. All right, I’m barefoot. So shoes are cleaner than feet? I wash my feet daily. I’ve never washed my shoes. What exactly does he think is going to happen, anyhow? If I’m carrying any diseases, he should require me to wear a mask, because the mouth is germs’ primary escape route to the air. So, now we’ve got that cleared up.

After the UDF jackass incident, I told Mom about it and why I didn’t have any detergent. So we went to a different convenience store. On the way, she asked me why didn’t I just wear shoes. Well, because I don’t like to. She cited the familiar ghost Health regulation, which I promptly dispelled for her. So she argued differently. She says it’s a cultural thing. It’s polite to keep you shoes on here, just the same way it’s polite to take them off in Japan. Okay, so people like you to have your shoes on. Since when is it a right for people to have everyone do exactly what they want? I don’t think that one was in the Bill of Rights. I’ll give her that it’s polite. But I happen to think it’s uncomfortable. Isn’t one of the goals of a consumer establishment to make a customer comfortable? Someone lost sight of that. So now Mom tried a different tack. She said: “There are just so many more important things in the world.”

Agreed! To name just three of them, there are millions starving and being killed in Darfur, the South Koreans live under a madman, a quarter of the globe is under the totalitarian control of communist China. [Note from 2017: Wow, okay. Yeesh.] All this is tragic, and there’s no way to argue otherwise. It would be a triumphant victory for mankind if just one of these three problems were solved in the next few years. But no one can claim to think solely about those things. We have our own lives, too; we’re not completely diffused into the total Earth society. Duh. Thus, in my own life in the here and now, I’m taking on my trifling crusade to be allowed to go barefoot in public places. Why not? I like to. It’s comfortable. I can take the flak from overzealous manager types. And jeez, it’s summer.

P.S.: Another objection is that it’s a liability issue if a store lets someone in barefoot. Two rebuttals: If a store says this, they’re basically admitting that they create a dangerous environment for customers. And people need to get out of the litigation mindset; I won’t sue for anything reasonable that happens to me that wouldn’t if I had shoes on. (I would sue if an overzealous manager type came at me with a dinner knife, for example.) I’ll tell as much to anyone who comes at me with a liability concern. P.P.S.: The website I mentioned is www.barefooters.org. It’s very good.

File under: bad culture, barefooting


Anonymous

History

Aren’t you the rebel, now. My opinion is that feet are ugly. Feet in sandals are still ugly. Men’s feet are especially ugly, usually. I would prefer not to see them in or out of any public place except maybe the swimming pool. I’m for shoes!

Interesting that it isn’t a law, though. It ought to be. Ha. It’s like in France. You go into restaurants there and there are dogs all over the place, many of them in laps, being fed at the table. No one cares there. Don’t know about shoes, though. They probably would care about that. Grandma Oh, by the way. That video about parkours scared me to death! Don’t get carried away with it. I don’t want to hear about broken bones.

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Chuck

History

Oh you tragically small-minded individual you. Feet are the greatest. I think my feet are downright purty. Or at least they will be once this thing heals over. It was a wart, so I put wart remover pads on it. Now the wart is gone, but it’s taking a long time to heal back over, so it looks pretty gross. I need to get some sort of Neosporin or something. However, there’s a significant community of strange people out there who have foot fetishes. If they can find them so exclusively attractive, they can’t be all bad. The Orthopedic Benefits of Going Barefoot are Well Documented Too, for what it’s worth. Also, it’s spelled parkour. It is French, but David Belle its originator decided to be unFrenchy about it. Like what I do with krokay.

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Anonymous

History

It is obvious that you are out of school and do not have enoough to do this summer. Go get a job and wear your shoes to work. Ha! Ha! gpa

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Anonymous

History

Yes, my darling. Get employment! For my parents: He has his ap in at Border’s.

About feet: Maybe that is why babies are allowed to go barefoot. I always thought it was stupid to put shoes on babies. Why? They don’t walk! Now I realize it’s because babies have just exceptionally cute feet. They are cuter than our feet. So when babies are carried barefoot into UDF, no one cares. But when we big folks go into UDF, our feet must be appropriately covered. Maybe it’s just because they’re kinda ugly. Though, Nathanael, your feet are purty because I’m your mom.

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Anonymous

History

Ah, to be young again, exploring and challenging the world. That is a very good sign. I remember when my son, Steve (your 1st cousin once removed) was your age and doing the same kind of things. I’m proud of him now, but it did give me my first grey hairs. And he still challenges everything and evertbody. (His employer loves it when he challenges his job and his project team). Uncle Chuck

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Anonymous

History

Bit by bit, day by day, you are really becoming a great liberal thinker. It’s refreshing to see such a bright mind not stuck in the rut of the mainstream garbage. I suspect that one added benefit to going barefoot is that your toenails self trim at a certain length. That’s a plus. I do suggest some foot protection at crowduck, those pike have sharp teeth. Duct tape could be an option. Uncle Dan

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Anonymous

History

One thing that perhaps you have not considered is that a particular city has a health regualation against bare feet in eating estabishments. They have the right.
How do I know that you do not have athletes foot, that that yellow and brown stuff under your toenails is going to stay there and not fly around the room, that you wash your feet at least periodically and that you have not recently been in a pig sty. Huh! Huh! Huh! And finally, wearing shoes in my van is a prerequisite before boarding. I for one do not think your “little piggies” are that cute - sorry Ann. Gpa

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Chuck

History

The authors of that website have been asking around for a while, and they have yet to find a city with such regulations. For what it’s worth, putting shoes on vastly increases your risk of athlete’s foot, since your shoe has such ideal breeding grounds for fungi (hot and humid with lots of foot oils). And I think toejam is pretty immobile, as a rule.

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Anonymous

History

Don’t worry. I’ll be in the van with MY bare feet. Just let Grandpa try to kick ME out. Ha. But I’ll wear my sandals in the restaurants and rest areas. I don’t want to pick up somebody else’s crud. And I hope we’re about done with foot discussions. Grandpa and I aren’t sure exactly when and where to go on Thursday night. How about a word to us? Loved your invitation with all the hand done script. I’m saving it forever. Grandma

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Anonymous

History

As I am sure, you’re not particularly alone in this little crusade. There was an incident at Brandeis my freshman year when a hippie decided to go barefoot everywhere and went into the school cafeteria. The kindly cafeteria ladies did not take well to that statement of self-expression, and proceeded to toss him out on his butt. If you pursue this to Grinnell, I hope you receive a much warmer reception.

BJ

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Anonymous

History

Heh, I stumbled upon this blog and I’ve found myself interested in the same thing. Many of the arguments against going barefoot prove to be irrational. Unfortunately, there’s no way to go barefoot outside where I live in February (5 degrees for a high anyone?), so it’ll have to wait until April, when the ground thaws out.

I saw that this was posted a while ago… You still having good luck on your “crusade”?

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Chuck

History

Hi!
I’ve continued going barefoot, but toned it down significantly because of the winter (Grinnell tomorrow also has a forecast high of about 5). On a couple occasions, I’ve walked through the snow barefoot, a pretty incredible experience. Lately, I’ve drafted a Student Initiative to allow bare feet in the last holdout area on the campus, our dining hall. I’ll be collecting signatures tomorrow; I need 100 by noon Saturday. Hopefully, I’ll be able to actually accomplish my goal.When I interviewed the head honcho in the fall, he said he couldn’t think of anything that would persuade him to repeal the footwear rule. Maybe if the majority of students tell him they think differently, he’ll reconsider.

Incidentally, how did you end up here? That kind of thing always interests me.

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Anonymous

History

Heh, I was actually just looking around for other peoples’ opinions on going barefoot in public as well as to find arguments to combat my parents. They’re not keen on the idea of going barefoot at all. My mom wears shoes 80% of the time indoors and outdoors. It’s crazy, I don’t know how she does it!

It’s starting to get warm again, so I’ll be going barefoot outside again soon.

Sorry for the 2-month delay, I only do this occasionally when I’m bored. =-P

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