Take Off Your Shoes!

by admin on September 16, 2011

That was what I heard a woman telling her boyfriend this afternoon while doing some work at the Battery Park Public Library.  It makes me feel good to hear people encouraging others to go unshod.  An even bigger plus was that it was tonight, being that the weather dropped below 60F for the first time I think since May.

No matter what you have on your feet, bare feet are the best

If you need a good quiet place with reliable WiFi to work this is the place to be. One other big plus is that people are very comfortable taking off their shoes. In the summer months you’ll come across multiple sets of bare feet. As far as using your cell phone, they are more strict in that regard which is fine with me.  I had no problem stepping outside and back in with my bare feet without bother.

Places would do far better by their customers if they expended as much effort in quieting excessive cell phone blabbers instead of cracking down on non-disturbing non-issues like bare feet.  The staff at the library probably appreciates the quietness of bare feet, rather than the sound of heels against the floor, though I was told at my local library branch in Brooklyn to have on footwear.
This day was an especially unique day.  The thing that made it so, was that it was almost like 2 seasons in one day.  While the weather forecasts told of the temperature drop, people went about their day.  You had a handful of people that switched to winter-wear, but for the most past, people were still in their flip flops or at least sockless – at least in the non-corporate settings that I frequent more than corporate.

While I have been seeing a lot more advertising while the companies anticipate dropping temperatures, most people were not quite ready to part with the warm weather, at least not in spirit..   Target advertised on TV their new Missoni product line, and I could not help but notice how much they emphasized colorful stockings.  For the most part today, people were defiant of what fashion was pushing.

In fact, when I first started working on this post, a woman dressed in cut-offs, tank top and running shoes took the seat next to me on the sofa in the WiFi venue where I was. Promptly she kicked off both of her sneakers, and at the gusto in which she did it, I was certain that both her socks would come off as well, but instead she put her socked feet up, turned to me and smiled.  I knew it was because she saw I was barefoot.   “Much more comfortable!” “Indeed,” I responded shaking my bare foot.

When I rode my bike, later that afternoon, I then felt the drastic change in weather.  At the library, as I mentioned at the beginning of this post, people were still in summer mode, barefoot while quietly doing their work.  However, when I went outside to make a phone call and went across the street in front of the World Financial Center, I could feel the stares on me, not only by men in their suits, but by women, their legs now coated in black, capped by high heel boots as they were probably wondering who this guy was in cut-off shorts, bare legs and bare feet.

The change grew even more drastic later that night as I rode my bike over the Williamsburg Bridge, feeling the cool rain fall on my naked back, wind brushing against the soles of my feet and between my toes as I pedaled fast up the hill.  I loved the feeling as I looked around noticing how much it seemed like people made a special trip home to put on their shoes, socks, hose and boots, looking at them as oddly as they were looking at the shirtless and barefoot dude on the bike.  Still among the crowd of people trying to escape or succumb to the cold, I could still see quite a few people in shorts and flip flops, as if to defy the cold see how much longer their feet can enjoy the cold.

Some people use their winter wardrobes as an opportunity to experiment with color

On the way home, I made another stop at Bliss, one of my favorite Vegan places.  The manager – or I think owner, knows me and like many other places that are growing in barefoot acceptance, I can talk comfortably to her about going barefoot.  When I first walked in, she mentioned that she was cold as the heat wasn’t on.  I told her I wasn’t and that my feet were enjoying the cold.  She looked down and smiled, “that’s fine!”  Yesterday I was in one of my other favorite venues where I spoke to the owner about my run along the path by the Brooklyn Bridge Greenway, and she nodded her head knowingly when I told her that the gravel was a little tough.  I was in a couple of other places that day, one where one of the co-owners invited me to do some presentations.

In another place, a young employee told me to wear shoes next time.  I told him there were no regulations against bare feet and he countered that there was, but sort of left it alone.  Besides, I have seen people working behind the counter not just in tank-tops, but ones cut so long that you can see the torso.  I believe that goes against OSHA standards – something I can easily bring up if confronted again.  Of course first I’ll show them the letter from the DOH.  Or I can just go to the owner who knows me pretty well.

All in all, this summer has been a real turning point.  My self-declared exile from the place which I frequented every day in the past took me to many new places and given me the opportunity to go completely barefoot for weeks at a time, due to no longer having to carry an emergency set of flip flops around or even need to put on my sole-less sandals.  I’ve been promoting the barefoot lifestyle so much more and gotten such great response from my circle of friends as well as business with owners who are more open-minded.  I am actually looking forward to the winter, when while their feet are all bundled up, they will get to see first hand of what I told them just a few weeks ago – that I go happily barefoot year round.

While in just a few weeks, I will most likely be the only person in a given venue with bare feet, let alone sockless ones, I am hoping there will be some more souls (or soles) willing to defy the cold and the barefoot lead.  I hope to see a lot more, if not bare feet, then open toes this winter.  So if some of you still in your flip flops wondering how to handle tomorrow’s weather, here’s my advice:

  1. Take off your flip-flops
  2. Put them away in your closet
  3. Open your sock drawer
  4. Go barefoot

Just take off your shoes and enjoy the ride.  I know I am.  Cold weather, I welcome you and promise you a lot of interaction with my bare feet.


The Barefoot Lifestyle Coach

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