So I have found myself with an opportunity push - strike that - destroy the social envelope while physically benefitting from the process.
As a barefoot runner, I need to keep my feet conditioned during the off season so that I'm in top form during the on season. Even during the regular running season, though, it's in my best interest to get as much continued conditioning as I can. I'm going to attempt that this year by going barefoot as often and as much as possible. This isn't just at home or at running events. This will be any time and anywhere - like the grocery store, the mall, the local fast food establishment...basically everywhere except my place of employment.
Now, you might say, "Well wait just one minute! You can't go into those places without shoes on." And my response would be, "Actually, I can." If you're so inclined, read on below for a virtual conversation that will dispel 5 of the most prominent, widely accepted myths associated with barefooting.
What about the health code? The health code says you have to have shoes on in places that handle food. At one time, I thought this myself. But research has revealed that there is no such health code, in any of the 50 United States, that says a patron of a food-handling establishment must wear shoes to be inside that establishment.
Well, what if you step on something sharp or something falls on your foot and you get hurt and then want to sue? As a barefoot runner, I have adopted the practice of scanning the ground before me. I am acutely aware of what's in front of me and every step I take is deliberate. Also, there are thousands of nerve endings in the soles of the feet making them as sensitive as fingertips or the tip of the tongue. I would know instantly if I stepped on something that might hurt me and would be able to adjust in that same instant. As for objects falling on my feet, I would counter that by asking, "How much more would a flip flop or open-toe sandal protect the foot?! Yet those are both perfectly acceptable without question." And a barefooter, exercising the legal personal choice to be barefoot, would be laughed out of court for trying to sue for personal injury due to bare feet.
Well, what about all the dirt you would be tracking into the place. I've seen barefooters' soles before. They're filthy! For anyone wanting to argue this point, I really have to chuckle. Yes, going barefoot will most assuredly create very dirty soles. So then, am I to believe the sole of a shoe wouldn't be just as dirty - if not more?! And I wash my feet every day. Who washes their shoes??
Ok, what about hygiene? I don't want to pick something up from your bare feet! First of all, if the one presenting this argument is wearing shoes, what earthly concern would he/she have for contracting something from my bare feet? Secondly, bacteria and fungus need a warm, moist, dark environment to thrive. None of those are present with bare feet.....ALL of those are present in a closed-toe shoe. Though a barefooter's feet may be dirty, they're healthy. I wouldn't bet the farm on that for feet that spend all day enclosed in a shoe.
Ok Ok, you got me. I guess those arguments make sense. But now I've got you. How do you plan on getting to any of these places? Everyone knows it is illegal to drive barefoot. 20 years ago I was stopped by the police for a moving violation and as the officer approached my vehicle I was scrambling to get my shoes back on. I too believed it was illegal to drive barefoot. As it turns out, it is, in fact, absolutely and perfectly legal, in all 50 states, to drive barefoot.
Well, I just don't like it. People are complaining and I just don't want you in here without shoes on. - I actually have no argument against this because there is none. If you feel you have to deny me entry into your establishment, or must ask me to leave simply because I don't have something between the skin on the bottoms of my feet and the floor, that is your absolute right. But I challenge you to take some time and think about the reasoning behind your action. Why would this be such a sticking point?? Yes, bare feet are very conspicuous outside of the beach or pool or local Dojo but, other than that alone, just what would the problem be??? What is so God awful about bare feet???
Just for the record, I am not a barefooter but I am a member of the Society for Barefoot Living and support everything the SBL stands for. And I'll let you off the hook. I won't be bouncing from establishment to establishment parading my bare feet just to cause trouble. Wherever I might be, I'll have a legitimate and immediate reason to be there. We'll just have to see if the powers that be will listen to reason or cling for dear life to what they think the law says.
I'd like to use this blog to chronicle the events that unfold as I attempt this. I anticipate great opposition but I also anticipate some open-mindedness and pleasant encounters. Whichever, you'll read about it here.