So I'm off work today, enjoying a reprieve from socially-mandated footwear. I drop by my landlord's office barefoot to pick up a check and get info about the new recycling bins we needed for our building. The secretary gives me the address and info I need to grab the bins. No one says a word about my lack of footwear, which is as things should be. This, however, is not to last...
I head off to the recycling center. Get there. Go in. Pick up the bins. No problem. The receptionist and I chat for a few minutes about the particulars of pickup time. She goes to get a schedule. During this five-minute period, a creaky middle-aged dude(*) sits chatting about nothing with his buddies. Well, when I step from behind the counter to get the pickup schedule, one of the dudes nods at me. Dude stops talking, looks at the floor by my feet.
"OOOOOOOOH no," he says, rising from his chair.
I know what's coming now and it pisses me off.
"Excuse me, sir," he says, standing all Mr. Authority-like. "But you can't be in here without shoes -"
"I'm on my way out -" I begin...
"- but this is a public place," he goes on, "like a store or a restaurant, and it's against the law for you to be -"
That does it. My temper goes from 0 to 60 in no time.
My hands cut through the air in a cutoff gesture. "No," I declare, my voice shifting into fight mode. "No, you just stepped on -" my words stop momentarily as the irony of that term sinks in - "- a HUGE raw nerve!" I now have everyone's attention. "It is NOT illegal in any way, shape or form to be barefoot in public -"
"Yes it is," he insists, which just pisses me off more.
"It is not," I go on, "in any way a violation of any law, code, health department code or any other thing for me to be in here without shoes. That's a common misconception, but I've checked into it and it's 100% wrong."
He starts to argue further. "This is my office -"
"Yes, it is," I placate. "And if you don't want me in here barefoot that's totally your right to say so. And as I said, I'm out of here anyway, so it really doesn't matter..."
"You're going to have to go out and come back in with shoes on..."
"I am LEAVING now. So it really doesn't matter. But it is NOT illegal or a violation of health codes -"
"Okay," he says. "How's this: we have little bits of broken glass all in this carpet here and if you step on them -"
"- that's my problem. But yes, that makes perfect sense. That's all that matters."
The receptionist and other dudes are looking at us like we're both crazy, stupid or both at once.
I add "Now, I've walked the Appalachian Trail barefoot, so I'm not worried..."
("Wow," says the receptionist. Kinda felt good about that.)
"...about anything in here, but your reasoning makes perfect sense..."
I'm giving the dude an out. But he's gotta get the last word in. With a condescending tone, he glares at me and proclaims "Well, if you check into that, I think you'll find that you're very much mistaken about that law."
My temper flares again. "Sir -" I take on the same tone he just used with me - "if you check into it, I KNOW you'll find that you're very much mistaken about that law!"
So saying, I take up the bins and head toward the door.
"Well,: he adds, "just call it Stan's Law, then." How melodramatic can you get?
We all issue brittle "Have a nice days" to one another and I go downstairs with my bins, seething.
Yeah, I should be used to it by now.
But why the FUCK do people have to get so weirdly self-righteous about such a tiny, stupid thing? And why do two otherwise intelligent grown men suddenly turn into schoolkids over such a simple yet contentious issue?
I've often said that going barefoot symbolizes rebellious, sensual freedom. Isn't it a shame that so many people dread that freedom so deeply that they'll insist that society's laws must match their own fears?
What fools these mortals be...
Stay barefoot and free, my brothers and sisters. If such freedom is that dreadful, it must be worth keeping. :)