“What’s with the bare feet?”
This was the reaction of from the lady reacting not only to my bare feet, but also those of her sister-in-law. I was doing my work inside – where I chose to sit next to another person who happened to have her shoes completely off. Sitting next to another barefoot person really helps to divert attention, just in case you might get approached by an establishment manager or owner who may be misinformed about the fact that there is no regulation prohibiting a patron from being barefoot in an establishment – not even a food one. The door to the outside was open and I decided to get a breath of fresh air.
Running in and out was a kid about the age of 2 kicking a tiny ball. A lady, seated barefoot at one of the outside tables waved and I thought she was waving over at the kid, but then realized she was waving to me. A closer look I realized it was a person who I took a language course with about 5 years ago. As I type this, I wonder if it was my face or my feet she recognized, as she is one of the many people that I know who has never seen me in footwear. I remember when she taught, sometimes she would have her feet out of her sandals the entire time. We spoke for a few minutes and she introduced the lady she was with as her sister-in-law. It turned out to be her kid she was watching and at one point the ball rolled away. She went to grab it without putting on her sandals and the sister-in-law on seeing my feet and hers exclaimed, “what’s with the bare feet???” I was laughing and told her that I never wear shoes.
“You’re a barefoot junkie I see,” she commented. I told her I prefer to use the term barefooter or barefoot enthusiast. Barefoot enthusiast seems to be a good term to put the conversation to rest. Some people are wine enthusiasts, people that just have an appreciation for wine. I have an appreciation and passion for going barefoot.
That night I received the same comment. After finishing a seminar I went outside to where my bike was parked. A lady who had lost her metro card was sitting outside waiting for a ride. We started to talk and she asked me what was with the bare feet. I told her that I’ve been going barefoot for over 10 years and just do not like wearing shoes. She admitted she always goes barefoot in the home but outside she feels like she has to have on footwear. She asked more questions like “so you don’t wear shoes or socks ever?” I admitted that I’ll sometimes wear flip flops to gain entry into some places. “Right,” she nodded understandingly. I also told her when the snow is deep and it’s in single digits I wear my Uggs without socks. “I never wear socks,” I added. When her ride came, she told me to enjoy my bare feet.
On average the past couple of weeks I’ve only had on footwear for 15-20 minutes a day. Part of that is work I do for a restaurant where at times I need to go behind the counter and comply with OSHA standards for employees – though my work is more technical and not food related. The owner once told me that open toe shoes are not compliant with the standards – where I corrected him and told him that I do not work in the kitchen. I have seen several operations where employees do wear open toes shoes when going back and forth to the kitchen. If one of them ever tells me that as a customer I am in violation of health code, I will happily point that out.
Since eschewing (or should I say e-shoe-ing) my former old place, I have had mostly positive responses and good experiences going barefoot. Last night I met a new running enthusiast in one of my project meetings (which I attend barefoot) who was impressed that I have been running barefoot for more than 10 years. We had a whole conversation on how much healthier it is to run barefoot. On the way home, I stopped at a felafel place for dinner. I walked in – my bare legs and soles in plain view. The manager was very courteous and went out of her way to give me good service. Afterwards she asked me if it was my first time there. I responded in the affirmative and said I would definitely be coming back.
During the day as well, I stopped over at a surf shop and the owner asked me if today was barefoot day? I told him every day for me is barefoot day. He thought that was really cool. A female employee that was there heard the conversation and agreed saying, “I hate wearing shoes too.” I felt tempted to ask her why she was wearing her sandals but for some reason didn’t.