Sunday, May 30, 2010

Turn up the heat

Today in Toronto the temperature was a little over 30 C as measured in the shade on my balcony and I was walking a fair distance on sidewalks and asphalt streets in the direct sun in bare feet.  Not gonna lie, at times it got fairly uncomfortable.  In the past week it has been as high as 34 C on my balcony and I still managed to continue the barefoot project but that day was ... a little sketchy.  I want to push my limits a bit and toughen up but having to dash from shaded doorway to shaded doorway isn't much fun.

One of the big issues I am having with going barefoot everywhere is that merchants so often have an issue with it.  My bare feet are certainly not a health hazard and I am not the sort of person to sue if I injure my bare feet in someone's store due to my own incompetence but nonetheless the people running those stores don't know that.  I want to go barefoot everywhere though and doing so will require confrontations with people at some point so I need to figure out what I am going to say.

"Sorry sir, I will leave."

"I will just buy what I have and go."
Possible, but wouldn't go well the second time.

"I am getting back to nature man.  Why are you oppressing me with your capitalist, conformist social norms?  Be free dude!"
I doubt I could actually say this without busting up laughing, so probably out.

"Ooooga Boooga.  Boooooga!"  
Might well get people to leave me alone, but might also get the cops called.

"Parlez-vous francais?"
Risky since I don't actually speak any other languages well enough to fake not being a native English speaker.  Should have paid more attention in French classes.

"My doctor is very concerned about repetitive impact disorder in the tissues in my knees and I was ordered to stop wearing shoes so as to correct my stride issues causing the disorder.  Sorry, I have to go barefoot for medical reasons."
This is a strange combination of lies and truth - exactly what you would expect from a salesman.  Going barefoot actually does have benefits for your stride and your joints but my current state of leg health is perfectly fine.  Maybe if I actually do research into some kind of plausible health concern that would actually benefit from barefoot walking this would be more solid.

Thing is, I don't feel bad about obfuscating the truth in this.  My bare feet are no threat at all to anyone and if I can supply people with a plausible reason to ignore their own rules no harm will come of it.  Lying is certainly not my preferred method but when it is employed simply to make the lives of everyone involved easier I don't have any moral quandaries with it.  My bare feet are ok and I just have to make everyone believe me even if they believe for the wrong reasons since mostly they won't listen to the right reasons.


  1. haha! ooga booga booga!
    i also like the hippy option. you should probably track down a tie dye t-shirt and a peace necklace though to really make it plausible. start growing your hair!

  2. I am growing a zz top style beard at the moment, basically just a goatee with the bottom getting longer and longer. It is great for stroking my beard in thought, but Wendy may make me get rid of it.

  3. I did some quick research, and I'm pretty sure that there are no actual regulations about being barefooted in stores or restaurants in Canada or Ontario. I doubt there are bylaws either (though it's amazingly hard to check these sorts of things). The no shoes no service thing is really nothing but a dress code put in place by management (which, of course, they are allowed to do, but then they are also allowed to give exceptions any time).

  4. There are no such regulations against bare feet in stores or restaurants in the US either - that is an urban myth. There were no anti-barefoot signs in the US until about 1968 or 1969 - they were all about keeping hippies out, without actually having to admit to discrimination based on appearance. Hey, at first they even kicked out men with long hair, before it became a common style by the early 1970s. So those signs started as sort of a 'political' sign, not a 'health and safety' sign.
    You should have seen how common it was to see young people going barefoot in public about 40 years ago. Quite a sizable minority for a few years.

  5. Good to know! I knew that barefooting wasn't a new idea, but I had no idea that it was extremely common in that timeframe. Maybe I need to do more research.

    The laws now surely are the same. Nobody wants to kick customers out of their store but they do want plausible deniability when they boot a hobo and these sorts of rules give them that. The idea of booties hippies has gone by the wayside I expect but barefoot still = undesirable to a lot of folks.

  6. I suspect that people fear foot bacteria, which doesn't really make sense unless they too plan to walk on the same surface barefoot.

    You should call your condition "leg-itis", as in "Sorry, I have to go barefoot. I have leg-itis."