Thursday, November 30, 2006

This Week's NATIONAL ETIQUETTE AWARD goes to... Pakistan!

Pakistan Page in Wikipedia

Welcome to Pakistan

Government of Pakistan

I hereby grant the National Etquette Award to Pakistan, as it is customary in that country to remove shoes when entering homes.

This week a court in Pakistan gave its verdict in the custody case of Molly Campbell, now calling herself Misbah. This teenage girl was the child of a Scottish mother and a Pakistani father. Earlier this year, it was believed that the girl had been abducted to Pakistan by her father. It turned out that she had in fact gone voluntarily to Pakistan and wished to remain there with her father. However, the court announced yesterday, that she must be returned to her mother's custody in Scotland. To my mind, I think it would probably be better for her to remain in Pakistan and I am surprised the court reached that decision. The girl has chosen to adopt the Islamic religion and identify with her father's culture. Her wishes ought to be respected.

Pakistan was part of the British Raj, but became independent in 1947. It has become a great military power with nuclear weapons. It has come close to war with India in recent years over the disputed territory of Kashmir. Pakistan is a strategic ally of the Britain and the United States in their opposition to Islamic terrorism and the Taliban.

Pakistan is a Muslim country, but it has a significant Christian minority. Christians are respected by much of the population, but they are often the victims of persecution, sometimes officially. For information on the suffering church worldwide, please visit:

Barnabas Fund

Open Doors International

There are many Pakistanis living in the United Kingdom. There are certainly a lot in Worcester. There are a number of Pakistanis active in Worcester Conservative Association. We actually had a Muslim mayor in Worcester a couple of years ago (and as a result, a Muslim chaplain for Worcester City Council at that time). He was a great chap.

Our next door neighbours are from Pakistan. I have never visited their home, but they have visited us. I do get the impression from television that a lot of Pakistanis living in Britain wear shoes in their homes, though this is not the custom back in Pakistan.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Stewardship

re-post

I believe there is an issue of stewardship here.

All that we have is a gift from God. We may enjoy our posessions, but we do need to give account to the Lord of how we have used them.

Carpet cleaning services are necessary to keep homes really clean, but they are very expensive. Replacing carpets costs even more. Having a shoes-off policy considerably reduces the need for maintaining carpets and other kinds of flooring. Therefore, as stewards of God's gifts, I would suggest that Christians ought to strongly consider the benefits of having a shoes-off policy in their homes.

Clean homes can also be more effectively used in the service of the Kingdom. Homes can be put to so many uses; entertaining visiting speakers, providing shelter for those who need it, hosting fellowship meetings (I think a good case can be made for holding all church meetings in homes) and Church lunches. Keeping homes shoe-free means that larger numbers of people can be accomdated at the home with minimal impact. It also makes the floor a safer place for small children and babies.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Culture

Some people in Britain and the USA have an interesting perspective on this subject. They feel happy taking off their shoes at the home of an Asian person whose culture demands removal of shoes, but consider it deeply rude for a British or American person to insist on visitors to her home removing their shoes.

There are two problems with this attitude. Firstly, there is a touch of cultural arrogance about it. It implies that the Asian custom of removing shoes is purely of spiritual or cultural significance with no practical value. Maybe Asian people are primarily concerned about keeping their homes clean! Behind the pretended respect for a foreign culture, there is the unspoken assumption that Western practice is superior.

Secondly, this attitude seems to take a rather static view of culture, seeing it as a set of chains that bind people to particular rules of behaviour. In fact, culture is dynamic and fluid, it changes over time.

It seems to me to be quite obvious that if a person of Asian descent can be considered British while keeping her home shoe-free, it is perfectly accpetable for a White British person to keep her home shoe-free.

It may be the norm in Britain and most of the USA for shoes to stay on in homes now, but this may change. In fact, I believe it probably will. Many White Americans and even British people are adopting the custom of shoes-off in homes.

We are living in a global village with increased immigration, travel and communication between different cultures. There is tremendous potential for different cultural practices to migrate across geographical boundaries.

Friday, November 24, 2006

37 Reasons for Having a Shoes-Off Policy in Your Home

Re-Post

37 Reasons for having a shoes-off policy in your home:

1. Carpets are not easy to clean.
2. Carpets absorb dust and become breeding grounds for dust mites, causing the development of asthma and allergies.
3. If you do not have a carpet, the dust will not be absorbed and you are likely to breathe it in.
4. Shoes can leave marks on wood, PVC and marble floors.
5. Shoes can scratch wood flooring, especially if they have high heels.
6. Boots and high heeled shoes can cause wear and tear to carpets.
7. That goes for rugs as well.
8. Shoes pick up small particles of grit that cause wear and tear to carpets.
9. Shoes pick up traces of petrol fumes and industrial pollution.
10. Shoes can pick up pesticides, fertilizers and other chemicals.
11. Shoes pick up traces of animal excrement.
12. Ever noticed how much chewing gum there is stuck to the streets?
13. In a square mile, there are more insects than people on the planet. How many do you think you have squashed on your shoes?
14. If you have a crawling baby, do you want him or her to be exposed to the dirt from people's shoes?
15. In rain or snow, you are less likely to get the floor wet.
16. If you live near a beach, you will bring less sand into the house.
17. If you have a crawling baby, you will do less damage if you accidently step on him or her.
18. If you get mad and kick the cat or dog, you will do less damage (apologies to animal lovers).
19. If your children play rough, they will do less damage.
20. It creates a less formal atmosphere.
21. It creates a greater sense of relaxation.
22. Your guests will become more like you by removing their shoes and will feel part of the family.
23. An oriental, Scandinavian or East European visitor will feel more at home.
24. It teaches children the importance of respecting and looking after things.
25. Psychologically, removing your shoes helps you to enter a frame of mind where you keep your everyday troubles outside your home.
26. It is more comfortable.
27. It is healthier for you feet to take your shoes off during the day.
28. Small children with growing feet should wear shoes only to the minimum.
29. If you wear high-heeled shoes, your feet badly need a break.
30. You can put your feet up on the sofa without taking your shoes off first (Dont tell me you put your feet on the sofa with shoes on?).
31. You can put your feet up on the coffee table without taking your shoes off first.
32. If you ever visit Japan, it will seem less weird.
33. If you are ever arrested and they confiscate your shoes, along with your belt and jewellery, it will seem less weird.
34. Your feet smell less if you do not wear them all day.
35. When you lovingly chastise your children, you will have a slipper to hand.
36. It was a Biblical custom (come on, did they wash their feet with shoes on?)
37. Do you really think the Saints in Glory are going to trample the sparkling, clean New Jerusalem with shoes on?

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Good Questions: Is Shoes Off at a Party Proper?

Good Questions: Is Shoes Off at a Party Proper?

I have posted this before, but it really is a great discussion thread. Though it did get a bit heated at some points!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Beach and Carpet

re-post

It is remarkable that people will happily walk barefoot on beaches that, despite looking clean, are contaminated by animal excrement, rubbish, pollution and other filth and yet will make a fuss if they are asked to remove their shoes and go barefoot on somebody's clean carpet or shiny hardwood floor.

Do people really think that beaches are more hygienic than floors that are cleaned regularly?

Monday, November 20, 2006

Making Guests Feel Uncomfortable?

Kim from Hiareth made this comment on a post at Regaining Paradise:

Our whole family kicks off shoes before coming into the house. That means our house or anyone else's house. Its an ingrained habit. Tom and I both grew up in homes where this was the accepted protocol.

Having said that, I don't ask my guests to slip off their shoes. I want my guests to feel comfy and some people feel exposed without their shoes.



I would like to answer the claim that having a shoes-off policy will make guests feel uncomfortable.

Firstly, I do not think the majority of people, at least in the UK, would feel uncomfortable about removing their shoes. That does not mean that they will remove their shoes without being asked; it is not the norm here in Britain, so they need promting. Hence, we are talking about a minority of people.

There are several possible reasons why people might not feel confortable about removing their shoes:

Their feet smell
I actually think most people's feet smell far less than they may think. If people wear clean socks and get into the habit of taking off their shoes at home, they will find that their feet do not smell much. If people are really worried about this, they can bring slippers with them and use foot deoderent before their visit.

They are embarassed about their feet
No problem. They can bring slippers or socks with them. If their visit is unexpected, the host should offer them clean socks to wear.

Their feet may get cold
Again, they can bring some slippers with them or wear wooly socks.

They feel that shoes are essential to their outfit
One needs to dress appropriately to the occasion. If you go jogging, you wear a tracksuit and trainers. If you attend a funeral, you should wear a dark suit. If you visit a no-shoes home, you should chose an outfit that looks good with barefeet.

They are not used to taking their shoes off in other people's home
Poor things. They will get used to it. When you visit somebody else's home, you should accept that they may do things differently. When in Rome...

If people really are that unconfortable about taking their shoes off, they had better not do too much travelling. In Asian, Canadian, East European and Scandinavian homes, you are expected to remove your shoes at the door. They need to realise that there are quite a lot of circumstances in life where one has to take one's shoes off; in a swimming pool, at airport security, when practising Yoga or when visiting a Mosque.

Is it really such a big deal to take one's shoes off when visiting the cosy house of somebody who wants to protect their carpet from dust and filth?

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Broken Glass

Walking through the streets of Worcester today, I trod on some broken glass. A big fragment got stuck on my shoe. It came off easily. However, when glass breaks, parts of it shatter into tiny pieces, many too small to see.

Those tiny fragments get embedded in shoes very easily. What effect do you think those tiny fragments of glass in your shoes might have on carpets or laminate flooring? Do you see where I am going?

Friday, November 17, 2006

Some Serious Theology- Are you a Tramplian or an Offalist?

re-post

You may be sick of the Calvinist/ Arminian debate, so let me introduce you to some new theological terms; Tramplian and Offalist.

Tramplians like to trample the carpets or flooring of their homes with their shoes on. They find it rather objectionable to be asked to remove their shoes when visiting somebody else's home.

The central principle in Tramplian theology is the freedom of the will. They believe that they should be the ones to decide whether they take their shoes off at a dinner party. Their attitude is "I decided what outfit to wear. I decided what shoes to wear. I should be able to keep them on if I like". They do not believe that a hostess should impose shoelessness on them.

Tramplians have a strong belief in the goodness of hosts. They consider that a hostess should be above all concerned for her guests wishes and convenience above keeping her home clean. They believe that if a hostess likes them enougth to invite them into her home, she will accept them with their shoes on.

Tramplians believe in the power of their own ability to keep their shoes clean. They consider themselves to be grown-up and to be careful about what they tread on. They do acknowledge that their shoes can be tainted by the corruption of dirty streets, however they hold that this can easily be dealt with by wiping their feet on their hostess' doormat. Their shoes can be restored to cleanliness by the exercise of their will.

Offalists in contrast, always remove their shoes at the door. Offalists believe in the Total Depravity of the soles of their shoes. The corruption of city streets has completely ruined the condition of their shoes, they argue, and the only hope is a change of nature for their feet, namely into slippers or clean socks. The Offalist pays heed to warnings about the health risks of pesticide, lead paint and animal excrement.

The Offalist upholds the sovereignty of the host. The hostess has been very generous in inviting her guests, however, she is sovereign over her own home and has the authority to set the rules. She will not allow anything corrupt to defile her home. Those who would enter her home must not come in their own shoes, but must meet her condition of a change into slippers or stocking feet.

The Offalist holds that the root problem of the Tramplian's theology is human pride. The Tramplian is proud of her ability to make decisions about her outfit. She is proud of her Manolos, her Prada heels or her Jimmy Choo boots. She is too proud to combine her outfit with stocking feet. She resents the idea that her hostess would not accept her in her own shoes.

The Offalist argues that if the Tramplian would only forsake her pride, she would actually find that she was far more comfortable in slippers, socks or bare feet. Her determination to remain in her stilettos will in the end hurt her feet and drag her to destruction. She may well remain outside the dinner party in the outer darkness.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

'Wearing Shoes in Your Home is a Health Hazard' by Paul Rebhan

re-post

Paul Rebhan wrote:

When you walk through almost any part of a city, and even in the suburbs, your shoes pick up a multitude of unwanted hangers-on. If you wear those shoes in your home, you run the risk of endangering your family's health by spreading viruses, bacteria, parasites, fungi, other pathogens, allergens and toxic substances.

Nocent items such as these may be commonly found on sidewalks and streets:

- Remnants of feces from dogs, cats, rodents, birds, other wildlife and sometimes, even humans.
- Urine from the same sources.
- Excretions such as saliva, mucus, sweat and sometimes, blood or vomit.
- Remains from insects and rodents
- Remnants of garbage including food waste and toxic cleaning products.
- Residue from insecticides, oils, gasoline and grease.

Even indoor spaces such as the floors of restrooms are frequently contaminated with urine and hospitals or doctors' offices are fertile hotspots for a variety of germs that may end up on your shoes. Soil around homes and parks may be contaminated with lead, pesticides, lawn chemicals and toxic wood preservatives.

Residue from humans and animals may contain common viruses and pathogens such as hepatitis, herpes, E. coli, tetanus, rabies, strep, hantavirus, or cold and flu causing germs. Garbage residue may carry traces of toxic products such as formaldehyde, industrial chemicals, dyes and lead. According to Dr. Leo Galland, author of "Power Healing", lead tracked into a home and accumulated in carpet dust often exceeds levels requiring clean-up at Superfund toxic sites.

These items may be on the ground in very small deposits that are unnoticeable to the naked eye. Shoe soles are generally made of leather, rubber or other porous materials that allow the absorption of microscopic substances. Wiping shoes on a doormat or rug may remove some of the larger materials, but will not eliminate microscopic germs.

Once inside your home, contaminated shoes become a conduit for disease, spreading germs to carpets and even hard-surfaced floors. If you walk on those floors later without shoes, the germs can spread to your feet and be carried to other places such as your bed. If children are allowed to play on the floor, germs can easily spread to their hands, clothing and mouths. Even pets are at risk of picking up and spreading these germs.

In his book "The Secret Life of Germs", Philip M. Tierno, Jr., Ph.D. suggests a simple way to avoid this hazard: "One should adopt the hygienic Japanese practice of having separate footwear for outdoors and indoors, and leaving the outdoor shoes at the threshold".





--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
References: Philip M. Tierno. Jr, Ph.D.: The Secret Life of Germs, The U.S. Centers for Disease Control: An Ounce of Prevention, Dr. Leo Galland: Power Healing, Spectrum Magazine: Our Daily Dose of Poison, Logan County, CO.: The Online Courthouse, Gary Null, Ph.D.: Natural Living with Gary Null

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Apartments and Wood Floors

re-post

It has become very fashionable in Britain to tear out the carpet and have a fine hardwood floor fitted. No modern apartment can be seen to be without a beautiful wood floor. Some connect this trend to fears about carpets and Asthma. However, carpets do have some health benefits, most notably improved air circulation.

Regardless of the aesthetics of wood floors and regardless of the merits of wood floors vs carpet, the combination of hardwood floors and the British custom of wearing shoes at home is very bad news for people living in blocks of flats. The sound of people stomping about on a wood floor in high heels or boots can make life miserable for people living below.

If you live in an hardwood floored apartment and you have people living below, please think about your poor neighbours and take your shoes off.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Dog Dirt

re-post

I am not fond of dogs. In fact, I do not like animals very much in general. However, regardless of whether one likes dogs, I think we all agree that dog excrement is not very nice at all.

Compare dog dirt to sheep excrement. It is quite different. Sheep excrement is a bit messy, but not much more than mud. It dries out easily in hot weather. The smell of sheep excrement is not that unpleasent, it is part of the English pastoral experience. The reason for the difference is that sheep only eat grass, while dogs eat meat. Hence, dog dirt is a serious potential health hazard. Being exposed to dog dirt is not very good for you at all.

Most places have laws to stop dog fouling, however, there are people who are careless enougth to let their dogs foul up. There are also stray dogs.

You may think that you are careful enougth to avoid stepping in the stuff. However, it is very messy. Even after the bulk of it has been washed away or consumed by insects, there will still be traces of it that you would never notice.

For the sake of your children, take off your shoes at the door and ask visitors to remove their shoes. Even if you do not have children and do not care about your own health, ask visitors to remove their shoes. That way, other people will feel more comfortable making their own homes shoe-free.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Shoes-Off at Parties?

As Christmas (Saturnalia) and New Year draw ever closer, a lot of people wil begin planning parties. This is probably not the idea subject for me, because I am not terribly fond of parties at all. Nevertheless, I have been to parties in the past and I am sure I will go to some in the future. I may even host one in the years to come.

There are some people who are strict about no-shoes in their homes who make na exception for parties. They feel that parties are an occasion when people expect to dress up and this must include shoes. I disagree with their view. I think it is perfectly reasonable to require shoes to be removed for a party.

In Canada and Scandinavia, it is common for people to attend formal parties with a special set of party shoes that are not worn outdoors. This is not really feasible in the UK. I doubt that many British folks have shoes that are never worn oudoors, unless they keep a pair of sneakers to go to the gym. And if those formal party shoes have high-heels, they are unacceptable anyway.

Some people say that party of a party is clearing up afterwards, so you should not make a fuss about mess from people's shoes. This seems a little silly to my mind. People will make more than enough mess at a party without them bringing in dirt on their shoes. There will be plenty of spilled wine and crumbs ground into the carpet without chewing gum and dog dirt from peoples' shoes as well. Also the main party season in the West is Christmas and New Year, when there will be plenty of rain and snow (maybe not snow in England, but plenty of rain). The party season is a wet season.

Some argue that people will feel silly and uncomfortable at a party without their shoes. It is true that people might find it a little odd. But they will probably feel more comfortable for having removed their shoes. If it is made clear in the invitation that shoes willl need to be removed, then it will not come as a shock. Furthermore, if there is alcohol at the party, then most people will be feeling more relaxed.

The main argument levelled against shoes-off at parties is that people dress up for parties. A lot of people, particularly women, will chose their outfits very carefully and they the choice of shoes is part of that selction. For them, a party is an occasion to show off their good taste. They would not want to combine their cocktail dresses with barefeet.

In response I would say that parties are hardly the only occasions for dressing up. Ladies can show off their fancy shoes in restaurants or at the races. Not all parties are such formal occasions. If a party is a smart-casual event, it is actually quite rude to dress up more smartly than other guests.

The host sets the theme of a party. If it is meant to be a fancy dress party, then you should make the effort to find a costume or stay home. If it is an informal party, leave the suit or cocktail dress at home. If it is a no-shoes party, leave the kitten heels at the door.

I keep making this point, but I will make it again: it is best that guests know in advance that shoe-removal is required. If you are printing fancy invitations, make it known there (with some clip-art maybe?). If people know that they will have to take their shoes off, it will not come as a shock and they can plan their outfit with this in mind. They can bring some nice slippers that complement their outfit if they want and they can avoid long trousers that only look right when worn with high heels.

There is the question of whether it is really possible to hold a formal party while people are shoeless. It may be difficult in the West to maintain an air of formality when everybody is without their shoes, but is that really such a bad thing? Is it not better to be realxed at a party? Certainly, the host and guests can make na effort to keep the party formal. Men can look reasonably smart by combining respectable slippers with their suits and women can look pretty elegant in stocking feet. So all is not lost. If shoes-off in homes becomes more common, shoe-lessnes will probably become less associated with being casual and informal.

There are some people who will certainly be far more happy and comfortable to party without their shoes on. As I argued in a previous post, it is not simply a matter of giving these people the choice. At a shoes-on party, those who take it upon themselves to remove their shoes are likely to get their feet squashed and to have to walk on a soggy carpet. Shoes-off for all guests makes it easier for those who want to take their shoes off.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Climbing on Seats

re-post

At my church, there are a lot of children who like to clamber on the seats; climbing them, jumping on them or just putting their feet up on them.

Some parents are careful enougth to ensure that their children remove their shoes before doing this. However, some parents allow their children to climb on top of the seats with their shoes on. This is very anti-social.

It is not nice to sit on a seat where some child's dirty shoes have been. If you have children and attend church or any other kind of public meeting, please ensure they remove their shoes before climbing and jumping on the seats.

Slippers that look like Shoes

re-post

I do not as a rule always remove my shoes when visiting other people's homes. In Britain, removing shoes is not the norm and might be considered odd or even rude. However, some people would like visitors to remove their shoes, but are afraid to make the request. I should very much like to encourage those people by my behaviour.

Hence, I only remove my shoes if the host is not wearing shoes and possibly not even then if I know they wear shoes at home sometimes.

However, some people wear slippers that look like shoes. This really can cause confusion, Men may wear leather slippers or moccasins that could pass as shoes. It was fashionable a couple of years ago to wear these slip-on sneakers. Some people started wearing them indoors as slippers. At the moment, it is very fashionable for girls to wear outdoor shoes that are identical to slippers. If somebody is wearing those indoors, how am I suppposed to know if they are slippers or not? In the summer, some people may use indoor-only flip flops as slippers.

So people, if you would like people to remove their shoes in your house, but are too polite to say, please wear slippers that look like slippers and leave lots of shoes by the door to make it obvious.

Or better still, just pluck up the courage to say "We remove our shoes in this house." You may be surpised how gracious people will be.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Your Home- Shoes on or Off?

Your Home- Shoes on or Off?

Blog post by Michele Cheplic

A bit of Sixties Nostalgia

Everybody's crazy for those kinky boots, kinky boots

Great. Just make sure you take them off at the door.

Modernist Aesthetics

Time for a post on art.

I do have quite a fondness for Modernism in art and architecture.

A central principle in Modernist design is that form should follow function. Unnecessary decorative motifs shoud be discarded in favour of the absolute minimal of features. Beauty is in functionality.

A really beautiful example of this aesthetic must surely be the Dyson cleaner- sleek, smooth and efficent.

But the ultimate ideal of Modernist architecture is surely the heavenly New Jerusalem as described in Revelation 21. The city is an enormous cube, like the Borg of Star Trek (though some Bible scholars think it is a pyramid). The decorative elements of this city- the gold, the precious stones and the pearls are not additional features built on, but are part of the very fabric and structure of the city.

To apply this to the subject of this blog, should lead to the conclusion that shoes should not be worn in homes. Shoes lose their practical funtion once one enters the home. They become an encumberence; an unnecessary decorative feature. One would only wear shoes in homes out of social tradition, and tradition has no part to play in the Modernist vision.

Minimalism rules and this applies to footwear! The stockinged foot is far more in keeping with the Modernist notion of beauty than the fancy Manolo Blahnik shoe.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Hospitality part 2

Guests are aware when they visit a home that the hosts have boundaries that cannot be crossed.

Guests know or should know that they cannot go wandering about upstairs, looking in their hosts' bedrooms. They ought to be careful in conversation that they do not mention subjects that may cause offence to the host. If the host has strong views on a subject, it is best not to argue with him or her. Guests know that they cannot bring their pet dog to somebody else's home unless the host has expressly said this is acceptable. Even if the host is an animal lover, permission to bring a pet dog must be sought.

It is now recognised by most people that when you visit the home of a non-smoker, they should not smoke inside. If they need to smoke, they should put their coat on and go outside. There are still some people, probably mostly from the upper strata of British society who think it is rude to forbid smoking in one's home. However, this view is very much in a minority.

It is important to recognise these boundaries when one visits a home and if hosts prefer, even if they do not insist on it, removal of shoes, this should be complied with by guests. To ignore this boundary is, as stated in the previous post, taking hospitality for granted.

Some people would object to comparisons with smoking pointing out the health risks of smoking, compared with the minor ill effects to health of wearing shoes past the door. However, it is not so much the health risks that should deter smoking in a non-smoking home. Nobody is going to get lung cancer because a few guests smoked at a dinner party. They are unlikely to even develope a cough because of it. No, the reason one should not smoke in a non-smoking home is simply because the smells and mess are not convenient for such hosts. It is simply impolite. Likewise it is not convenient to impose the dirt and dust of your shoes in the home of a person who would object to it.

Some would argue that it is polite for guests to remove their shoes if this is what the hosts do, but it is impolite for the host to request shoes-off. They feel that it is better to leave the responsiblity of politness to guests. To my mind, this is not quite logical. If guests have the responsibility to comply with the preference of their hosts, then it is surely quite reasonable for guests to make their preference known.

Part of the reason why a verbal request for shoes-off may be necesary is because etiquette is so uncertain and in such a state fo flux on this point. While it may be a good idea to remove one's shoes when one is welcomed by a shoe-less host, as this may be a shoes-off home, such a gesture might be taken as impolite by some. There are some who go shoe-less in their home who would be surpised by guests going shoe-less. It is probably necessary for those who desire shoe-removal to make their wish known.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Hospitality

As Christmas (Saturnalia) and the New Year approaches, hospitality will be on the minds of many.

There are some who think that asking guests to remove their shoes is contrary to the principle of hospitality. Again, this is a culturally relative matter. Albania and Turkey are countries in which hospitality is greatly valued and yet is expected in those countries that guests remove their shoes.

The shoes-on people argue that a hostess should primarily be concerned with her guests comfort and not with the state of her carpet or floor. However, most guests will feel more comfortable after removing their shoes. They may, admittedly, be uncomfortable because they are embarassed about their feet or they feel their shoes are part of their outfit. Those problems can be dealt with by letting guests know in advance that shoes-off is expected and so they can either bring slippers or plan their outfits with bare or stocking feet in mind. Any embarassment should be minimal if guests are not taken by surprise.

In my opinion, those who insist that guests should be allowed to keep their shoes on take hospitality for granted.

When I get my own house or apartment, I may well invite you. I will give you the best seat. I will cook for you. I will serve you the best food I can. I will give you whatever you want to drink, whether it be alcoholic or not. I will give you my undivided attention. I will entertain you with conversation. If you live nearby, I will drive you home in my car. If not, I will let you stay the night. I will wash up the dishes and cutelry you have used and clean up any mess you make. Given that I am willing to do all this for you, do you really think it is so unreasonable that I ask you to take your shoes off?

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Neat Freaks?

It is commonly thought that people who insist on shoes-off in their homes are neat freaks who are obsessed with keeping their homes clean and tidy.

I dare say that there are some people who prefer shoes-off who are genuine neat freaks. And those who are Obsessive-Compulsive about cleanliness may well be among the shoes-off community.

Of course this is culturally relative. In Japan it is thought that money is dirty and unhygeinic because it is handled by untold numbers of people. Japanese people also regard any objects placed in bathrooms, such as books or ornaments to be 'dirty'. A person in a western society who held such attitudes would almost certainly be regarded as Obsessive-Compulsive.

I have known a number of people who really were excessive in their desire to keep their homes clean. Interestingly, these people did not require visitors to remove their shoes. I suspect that they probably spent so much time in cleaning their homes that they were happy to waste time cleaning up afer their visitors.

Many people who keep their homes shoe-free are not domestic goddesses who like nothing better than spending whole days doing spring cleaning. Rather, they are busy working people who have far better things to do. They do not want to clean up for the sake of it, but they know that living in a clean environment is healthier and far more pleasent. Knowing that time is precious they would rather keep the mess to the minimum and spend as little time as possible cleaning up after their visitors. Prevention is better than cure.

Nobody needs a house that is spotless, but it is pointless to allow dirt and dust to accumulate when it could easily be kept out by leaving shoes at the door. A floor is meant to be walked upon, but that does not mean that one should not reduce wear and tear and save time and money.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Tip 22: Leave Dirt at the Door - Remove Your Shoes

Tip 22: Leave Dirt at the Door - Remove Your Shoes

Choice

Some people are of the opinion that it is very important that guests have the choice of whether to keep their shoes on or not.

However, it is not as simple as that. Some choices may impose on the choices of others.

Some visitors may want to take their shoes off, but may fear that doing so will be considered rude. Being informed that shoes-off is encouraged will be a great welcome for these people.

The shoes-on folks might then argue, "Yes, but you can still let people keep their shoes on without imposing on the people who prefer to go shoeless."

However, this is not the case. Firstly, those people who want to take their shoes off may fear, if there are lots of other guests, particularly at a party, that their feet may get squashed by other peoples' shoes. In a crowded party, it can be hard to avoid having people tread on your toes.

Secondly, people who take their shoes off will prefer to walk on a floor that is cleaner. In fact, there is another issue here, as Angie pointed out in a previous post. Some guests will enjoy sitting on the floor. And sitting on the floor is a much more pleasent experience when it is clean. So allowing guests the choice of wearing shoes imposes on those who like to sit on the floor.

The simple truth is that no host can please everybody. However, there are far more good reasons to insist on shoes coming off at the door than for allowing shoes to stay on. Let guests chose between slippers, socks ot barefeet. That is choice enough.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Plastic Sheeting on Furniture?

People say some daft things in internet discussion threads. Often when the shoes-off rule is discussed, people suggest that those with shoes-off homes probably leave the plastic sheeting on their furniture.

Does anybody really do that?

There is simply no comparison. Furniture is not going to be damaged by people sitting on it (unless they put their shoes on it- which some silly people do). But your shoes can certainly make a mess of floors and carpets.

Removing shoes at the door wil make you feel more comfortable. Sitting on a sofa with plastic sheeting is horrible, especially in the summer when one is wearing a t-shirt and shorts.

And plastic sheeting on furniture looks really silly anyway.

So I very much doubt that many people who keep their homes shoe-free really do leave plastic sheeting on their furniture.