Monday, February 06, 2006

Removing Shoes in Somebody Else's House

Most of my posts on this blog have dealt with having a shoes-off policy in one's own home. There is the question of whether to remove one's shoes in the home of somebody who does not share one's conviction on this subject.

I have never visited anyone for years who has asked me to take my shoes off. I should be quite delighted if I visited somebody who did. I stayed in Helsinki with a family who all removed their shoes at the door. As I knew this was the custom in Finland, they did not need to ask me to do so. Whether they would have asked me to take them off had I kept them on, I do not know.

There are some people who say that if you expect people to remove their shoes in your home, then you should remove your shoes in othr people's homes, whether they ask you or not.

I have some sympathy for this position. I would like to set an example. It would send the signal that it is not unreasonable to expect shoes-off at the door. If I visit somebody's house and I keep my shoes on, then I keep thinking about all the dirt I am spreading in their house. It plays on my mind.

On the other hand, if I am visiting a house where people frequently wear shoes indoors, then it will do little good my removing my shoes. It would just get my socks dirty.

More significantly, in Britain it is not the accepted norm to remove one's shoes when visiting somebody's home. In fact some people would consider it rather rude. If people in Britain want to remove their shoes to make themselves more comfortable, then they will ususally ask permission (British people are so silly!). It is not unusual for some people to offer to remove their shoes when visiting somebody. This is a nice gesture, but most people in Britain are silly enough to decline this offer. It is also pointless to do this if the hosts have their shoes on.

As I am a typically polite Englishman, I am always concerned not to be seen as taking liberties in other people's homes. So, if I visited a home where the hosts had their shoes on or where I knew they often wore shoes indoors, I would keep my shoes on.

On the other hand, if I visited somebody who answered the door without their shoes on, I would probably remove mine, unless I knew they commonly wore shoes in their home. I would do this just to set an example.

If I was with my parents, I would do whatever they did. I tend to defer to them.

On one occasion, I visited a home where they often kept their shoes on. The lady of the house had just vacummed the carpet and it looked so clean. I just had to take my shoes off, even though they had their shoes on. I could not bear to defile this freshly-cleaned carpet. It did not bear thinking about.

When I used to visit my ex-fiance, I used to take my slippers with me. She and her parents never asked me to remove my shoes unless they were muddy (despite their being far more obsessive about cleanliness than me). I changed into my slippers on principle and I am sure they appreciated it.


Dorothy said...

Well Matt if you ever were to come to my house I would make sure the floors were spick and span and I would make sure everyone's shoes were off so you would feel more comfortable. It's only right!

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

That is very sweet, Dorothy.

God Bless


Stacey Mose said...

lol..i have had this conversation bfore *coughing*...anyhow, I totally agree. Here in my home..i would love if people took their shoes off...i find it disrespectful just to charge in with dirty shoes...but, now i suppose what the heck, my carpets are trashed from rhudeness. And of course children/ Carpet should be banned!!!! Lol..if i had the money
my home would have all wood
floors..but ..reality..nope! So time it will be darker at this.. here i go again another "shoes off topic" had this conversation when i received an e-mail from a gal in could I by the way...the music that interest you..i can relate..i use to listen to alot of those bands in my teen years...U know its been along time since I heard someone mention The Dead can

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Stacey, why not just ask people to take their shoes off? Offer them clean socks to wear and provide slippers for family and close friends.

Dead Can Dance were such a fantastic band.

God Bless