Again, for the nonbarefoot public, this post may be nonfun to read, but to those of you who need this, enjoy.
I went to Reggae Shack here in Gainesville (which has been friendly to me as a barefooter, as is Saigon Legend and Boca Fiesta) to eat today, and one of the waitresses (whose name I know but don’t feel comfortable posting) was strolling about shod but in very loud ankle bells… actually, the very same ankle bells I wear, bought from the same local vendor. They know me by name at Reggae Shack, and she discreetly and brightly told me that I have inspired her to go barefoot to more places, lovely, and then she asked how I get away with it. Well, here are the basics of “how to get away with living barefoot.”
1) Know your rights. Being barefoot is NOT a crime, it is not a crime to drive barefoot, and it is definitely NOT against healthcode regulations to go barefoot anywhere, restaurants included! People believe that it is, and it is not a matter of opinion, they are flat-out DEAD wrong. of course, trying to convince them of that is impossible, and if you can convince them they change their story and come up with some other reason to kick you out for being barefoot, or they just shout you down (see my post on the rude asshole from Chopstix Cafe). Pretty much, it doesn’t matter because there are plenty of restaurants that are not ignorant of the laws or choose simply to be more friendly. Go to restaurants that are run by immigrants, Mexican and Chinese owned restaurants are not staffed by uptight ignorant Americans. Additonaly, see the below PDF, it is a download of a letter from the department of health in Florida stating that it is NOT against any known healthcodes:
2) Attitude and confidence. Simply know that if you are the barefoot type, it is the most natural thing in the world for you to be barefoot. For me, I project such a natural ease about my being barefoot that it seems inevitable to people rather than odd. Exude that it is the most natural thing in the world for you to be barefoot and most people will buy it.
3) Look people in the eye. Yep, look clerks, wait-staff, whoever in the eyes.
4) Smile. While you are looking them in the eye, smile. A bright smile disarms most curmudgeons and busy-bodies.
5) Be discreet. There are some places that are way too uptight (most fast food joints, grocery stores, even post offices), so in those places wear soleless sandals or bell bottom jeans. When I grocery shop I wear bells and always keep a cart in front of me, so far no problems here.
6) Be careful, be vigilant. It is not fundamentally dangerous to be barefoot (certainly far less dangerous than wearing flip flops, leather soled shoes, or high heels) but every choice comes with complications, and if you’re gonna be barefoot, be aware of your surroundings, watch where you step, and step mindfully. I take a lesson from the Native Americans and have changed my walk. Most Americans don’t really walk, they waddle or fall forward with each step and catch themselves. When I walk I don’t really shuffle or fall, I sort of make sure my lead foot is planted on safe ground before moving the weight of the rear foot. This comes instinctively now.
7) Lotion and drink plenty of water, this is the only way to prevent heel fissures, and if one develops I use “Heel Rescue” foot cream from Walmart and I wear thin legwarmers that I can pull partially over my heel to protect the little fissure until it heals up, or if I’m gonna be on concrete a lot. City streets can dry out your feet.
8) Be pretty about it. I wear anklets and toe rings, nail polish and I perfume my feet. Something about having clean, pretty, decorated feet lets people know you are clean and that you are barefoot by choice.
9) Take responsibility. I realized upon revisiting this entry that I hadn’t said much about this issue. By “take responsibility,” I simply mean that you and you alone chose to go barefoot, any injury in any store or location is on you. If we want the right to be barefoot, we have to accept responsibility, in other words… don’t sue if you hurt yourself. That, friends, just ain’t cool!
I know this all sounds like a big deal, but it isn’t. It’s all easy, certainly easier than dealing with the foul bacteria and odor of keeping your feet strapped to boards/stuffed into bacteria incubators (shoes).
The right to shoes, the right to choose, I choose barefoot!