…but not on a desert island. Robinson Caruso, the first story that comes to mind when we think of the person marooned and stranded, or for that matter anyone else – the image of the boat washed up on the sandy shore and in a matter of weeks, the pants are – well strangely torn mid-calf or knee, shirt somehow lost and footwear disappears from existence. It’s that old cliche of bare feet going hand-in-hand with being removed from civilization. I think Gilligan’s Island had it more accurate though it was a bit unrealistic how the passengers and crew maintained their wardrobes for so long – the title character in that infamous red shirt with the white collar, though unrealistically Ginger seemed to have an endless supply of make-up and a blow dryer handy, and for some reason, that belly of Skipper’s bulging through his blue polo shirt never shrunk. And of course their shoes always seemed to stay on their feet! Maybe shoes and clothes were made with better quality back then. Who knows.
Now mind you, I was never stranded on a desert island, but all I know is that if I were stranded on a desert island, I would take full advantage of the dearth of NS3 rules around and go bare all the way – well heck what am I talking about? I would probably have no footwear with me to begin with, just like a couple of weeks ago, when I was stranded – well on Manhattan’s Lower East Side and ironically with footwear which I chose not to wear.
Okay the obvious question was how or why was I stranded in Manhattan but I’m sure a few of you – probably barefooters or else others who know me pretty well are asking why I had footwear with me to begin with? I’ll answer question first that’s more relevant to other posts. Most people know I don’t wear shoes, in fact at an event, which I attended a few nights ago, my wife’s aunt was surprised to see me shod. “You’re not earthing tonight?” she asked. I was pleasantly surprised to hear she knew about earthing and wish I had gone barefoot.
However, in this case, I was going to a meeting which involved a possible partnership with someone who I was meeting for the first time, along with the venture capitalist who introduced me via email. Since I was meeting both of them for the first time, I decided to dress smart-business casual. Along with my black moccasins, I wore a pair of black pants and a smart-casual button down shirt. Socks are far overrated and hardly ever needed any more, besides, I don’t even own any so I was of course sockless.
Mapping out my bike-route, I left my car in the area I knew I would be in at the end of the day and threw a pair of shorts in my side bag to throw on later on that cold January day – the temperature was actually in the teens to upper 20′s but I had gloves so my hands wouldn’t freeze from the wind hitting them during the ride. You’d be amazed, but the hands actually get colder than the feet.
I had just picked up my bike from the shop – the rear tire was slightly bent and needed to be straightened out. I guess the person there decided that I didn’t need a replacement, however, while I was riding, I could feel the bike wobbling a bit, kind of the feeling like I’m going over a street riddled with potholes. Telling myself I would take it back to the shop as soon as I made my way back to Brooklyn, I continued over the Williamsburg Bridge, making the gym my first stop, where I locked up the bike and changed into my business attire before jumping on the subway train. The meeting went well and he was pretty impressed that I rode my bike from my area to Manhattan.
After the meeting, I rode the subway back to the gym – I don’t ride it that often and it was the first time in a while that I rode it wearing footwear. At the gym I changed back into my shorts and enjoyed the cool air brushing against my bare legs and toes as I rode towards the East side. On Avenue B, suddenly my bike stopped abruptly. At first I thought it was my chain getting stuck between the gears, something that happens often when your chain has not been lubricated recently. I looked down and saw that it was the rear derail-er that was stuck on the rear tire. No matter how much I tried to jiggle it, it would not come loose.
I get off my bike and since it could not wheel, I carry it over my right shoulder to a bike shop I knew around the area. The employee looks it over and tells me that it needs a new derail-er, tire, cables and with labor it would come to almost $200. I knew that the bike shop in Brooklyn – called The Bike Shop charges me probably no more than a third so I asked him if there was any way he could just remove the derailer from the tire and make it if not ride-able, then wheel-able. I go across the street to the WiFi place which is more crowded than usual.
One guy at a table offered me a seat there before his girlfriend noticed my bare feet and complained that she was eating. They did ask me if I had shoes with me and I lied that I didn’t rather than say, “I don’t put on shoes by request but by personal choice.” As much as I reassure them that my toes will not touch their food Mr. Footphobe declines “um….we’re gonna pass you sitting here…” (see Bare Feet Not Arms for more details on that and other stories of utter ignorance). Shortly after getting a little bit of work done, I get a phone all by the bike mechanic letting me know what he can do – for $15 he removed the de-railer and changed my 10 speed bike into a 1-speed, though he did not recommend riding it – “…there is a possibility that your tire can collapse and you could injure yourself, and I’m especially concerned since you’re barefoot.” I had to thank him, after all feet are great for most things, but not for slowing down on your bike without brakes. I took his advice and wheeled my bike a few blocks to the L train on 14th Street. I must admit, over on 1st Avenue it gets windy as you have the spread out neighborhood of Stuyvesant Town nearby and the weather – I remember reading on my iPhone was 19 degrees and my feet were feeling pretty cool. Being barefoot made being stranded more fun though.
The thing that made it cumbersome was the stairs of the subway as I carried my bike in one hand and my gym bag in the other, people, all in their boots, closed shoes and socks staring at this barefoot person in shorts make his way down the platform and onto the train. In Williamsburg, I switched to the G, taking that to Washington Street. Outside the subway I tried riding my bike a few blocks but realizing its make-shift state, opted to wheel it instead a few blocks over to my car.
Heading over to one of my favorite WiFi spots in the Clinton Hill area, I recounted the events of the day and couldn’t get over how fortunate I was. Fortunate that I had my car parked in a location convenient to the subway that I took, and more importantly, fortunate that my bike got stuck on a local East Village avenue rather than collapsing at a high speed over the Williamsburg Bridge. For some reason, I am wanted in this world for whatever mission I am here – whether it is to spread the message of barefooting or some other purpose, I am thankful for that day.
The Barefoot Lifestyle Coach