Friday, February 29, 2008

Hospitality

re-post

There are some who think that asking guests to remove their shoes is contrary to the principle of hospitality.

This is a culturally relative matter. Albania and Turkey are countries in which hospitality is greatly valued and yet it 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?

Casa Quickie: Take Your Shoes Off

Casa Quickie: Take Your Shoes Off

Joy to the Home Blog: Why instituting a "Shoes-Off" Policy in your home makes sense

Joy to the Home Blog: Why instituting a "Shoes-Off" Policy in your home makes sense

For the Love of Lavender: A Better. Healthier Home

For the Love of Lavender: A Better. Healthier Home

Recommends having a no-shoes policy.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Stuff Asian People Like: #16 Not Wearing Shoes Indoors

Stuff Asian People Like: #16 Not Wearing Shoes Indoors

Sometimes I think I should have been born Asian. Believe it or not, I am proud of my English culture really.

Removing shoes at work

This week I started removing my shoes while at the office. I had not done this in any of the offices that I worked in before. That was mainly because my shoes had laces. If you take your shoes off at work, you want to be alble to put them back on quickly if you need to rush around. Now that I wear slip-on shoes I can do that (going to Japan made such a difference to my life). Obviously, it is not a cleanliness thing. It is a comfort thing. Who wants to be in their shoes all day?

Being able to remove your shoes is an advantage of working in an office. You cannot do it if you work in a factory or a kitchen. However, it does not look especially professional (unless you work in an Asian country where everybody entering the office has to take their shoes off). If you work in an office wear everybody is expected to wear a suit, then walking about the office in your socks is not going to go down well. However, if you are in that situation, you can always slip them off under the desk without being seen, provided you dont wear lace-up shoes.

The office I work in has a very casual culture. There is no dress code and you can wear sneakers without anybody complaining (not that I do that). I think I can get away with padding in socks some of the time.

Readers, is removing shoes at work something you would do?

And if you were the boss, would you make it a rule, in order to keep the office floor clean?

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Shoes left by the Door


I think the sight of shoes left by a door is rather beautiful, especially if there is a collection of them left by guests.

A collection of shoes by the door are all different shapes and sizes. They reflect different tastes and lifestyles. Yet they have all been removed for the purpose of entering the sanctuary of an home. Though the owners are different individuals, in their all becoming shoeless, they have united in the fellowship of friendship.

The owners of the shoes are at leisure. They have put aside their work to engage in relaxation or socializing.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Shoes-Off Nazi

Some of the veteran readers of this blog may recall that a while ago, I quoted an American who described me as a freedom-hating shoes-off Nazi.

I have seen quite a lot of people on the internet using the term 'Shoes-off Nazi'. Usually, it is by people who object to being asked to remove their shoes. However, a few people have used it in a tongue in cheek way to describe themselves. It is good not to take oneself too seriously.

It is funny how so many different groups of people get compared with Nazis or Fascists- conservatives, vegetarians, Europhiles, Muslims, fundamentalist Christians, advicates of 'political correctness', feminists, environmentalists, animal rights advocates. And people who prefer shoes-off in their homes. Basically, anybody you disagree with and you suspect wants to curtail your liberty.

It is true that many countries in which removing shoes is expected, such as Japan, Sweden and Russia are in differing ways more authoritarian and less individualistic than Britain and the United States. But easygoing Canadians also take their shoes off.

I can see the funny side of comparing people with a shoes-off rule with the Nazis, but I do not think it is really appropriate. Think about the terrible things which the Nazis did for a moment and it should be obvious why.

The person who called me a shoes-off Nazi may have gathered that I am a Christian. But supposing my parents or granparens were Jewish? Would I not be terribly offended?

If you are going to throw around the term Shoes-off Nazi, you really need to consider the fact that the person might be Jewish or a Jewish person might read it. They might just find your flippancy a little offensive. British readers will recall Ken Livingstone, mayor of London and his stupid comments.

Ebonie Expressions: Kindly remove your shoes before entering...

Ebonie Expressions: Kindly remove your shoes before entering...

Yet another blogger who prefers shoes-off.

Monday, February 25, 2008

The relationship between host and guest

Some people seem to see the shoes-off rule as an unfair restriction on the freedom of guests. I think that is a very sad attitude.

I rather see the removing of shoes as a beautiful and peaceful exchange between host and guest.

The guest removes her shoes when she enters the home. She shows respect to the house she is entering. She does not treat it like a restaurant where her custom is king. Nor does she treat it as her own home, where she may do as she pleases. She has entered the home of another family and she must respect the fact that their lives are lived here.

The hostess is in turn delighted by the respect that the guest shows her. In removing her shoes, the guest has entered into the environment of her family. The hostess will treat her guest with all the courtesy and kindness that she would show to her own family members. She will take care to look after her to the utmost while she remains under her roof. She will serve her the best food, give her the best seat. If necessary she will drive her home in her car or let her stay the night.

In removing her shoes, the guest becomes like the hostess, who is already shoeless. She identifies with the hostess who has welcomed her into her home. In their both becoming shoeless, the host and guest enter a fellowship and unity. They are both without shoes; they are equals. This is true friendship.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Planning ahead

I had a young couple who are my best friends join me for dinner at my house.

They know I expect shoes off. After they took them off I noticed the lady was in pantyhose (Sorry, the majority of my readers are Yanks), so I offered her the loan of some socks. However, she had thought ahead and brought her own, a bright red pair.

I love having friends who respect my home and they way I prefer to live.

As I usually do, I seved oriental food, this time Thai style. Coming to my house for dinner is an Asiastic experience; oriental style cooking and shoes off at the door. But we did sit on chairs.

PressEnterprise.com: Many Inland residents ask guests to shed their shoes

PressEnterprise.com: Many Inland residents ask guests to shed their shoes

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Very thoughtful

I was helping out at church today, cooking breakfast at the Dads and Toddlers meeting.

The church gardener was working outside. He was invited to come in and have some tea and a bacon sandwich. He removed his shoes before entering the church, so as not to bring in mud. I thought that was very thoughtful of him.

Friday, February 22, 2008

I cannot really endorse this suggestion

I have come across a few websites and blogs that suggest having a shoes-off rule for the reason that when a girl is visiting it will be a prelude to her taking other pieces of clothing off.

As a Christian who believes in reserving sex for marriage I cannot endorse such a suggestion or link to sites that make it. However, if you do adopt this seduction trick, you will find that it does help to keep your home clean. And I cannot object at all to making female visitors more comfortable, whatever your reason for inviting them!

Natural Health: Shoes Off

Natural Health: Shoes Off

"Forgoing footwear indoors helps keep your home healthier and free of pollutants."

ramblings: shoes off at the door rockstar!

ramblings: shoes off at the door rockstar!

CoolPeopleCare: Leave your Shoes at the Door

CoolPeopleCare: Leave your Shoes at the Door

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

You keep coming!

It seems more and more of you are coming here. The average number of visits has been progressively going up lately.

It really is nice that people find this place interesting.

It would still be nice if more of you commented. It does make me feel good when I get feedback.

How to silently remind guests to remove their shoes

1. Cast your eyes downwards at the guest's feet for a few seconds.

2. Make a faint smile with gritted teeth.

3. Look down at the guest's feet again.

4. When the guest looks down, nod.

This is unlikely to work on first-time guests. This is only for reminding people who already know you don't want shoes in your house.

A window dresser

I saw a woman decorating a store window today in her stocking feet.

It was good to see that. A lot of shop workers will decorate the window without taking their shoes off. I am sure those shop window ledges must get scratched easily.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Don't tell anybody about this post

This might get me excommunicated from the Christian blogsphere, or failing that just getting de-linked from a few Christian blogs. I felt that as I was the only blogger who dedicates a whole blog to the issue of the shoes-off rule, I had a duty to watch an episode of a popular television show that dealt with it as a subplot.

You Tube: Sex and the City- A Woman's Right to Shoes (Part 1)

Sex and the City is a programme I would not normally watch. From what I have heard it is vulgar and obscene. As it happened, I have seen more objectionable things than this episode, but the second part (not linked here) features male nudity.

In this story, the character Carrie attends a baby shower where she is asked to remove her shoes for hygeine reasons. Her Manolo Blahniks are stolen during the party. The hostess begins to offer compensation, but changes her mind when she finds out they costed an extravagant $485.

I do object to the portrayal of people with a shoes-off policy as anti-social and selfish. I suppose it would be a dilemma if some expensive shoes were stolen. Would readers pay $485 for somebody's stolen shoes? I doubt this happens very often. Usually people invite people they trust to their parties.

It is true that the stolen shoes were a finanicial loss to Carrie (though she recovers it in this story), however, if one is responsible for the financial loss of stolen shoes, what about the financial loss to a host of ruined floors? If hosts can be expected to be responsible for stolen shoes, then surely guests can be expected to remove their shoes? Respect goes two ways.

In the second part, when Carrie returns to the hostess, I did recognise an expression on the woman's face when she makes a silent request for shoes-off. I have made that face at people before.

Picking up signals?

My mother came in my room today to show me some picures of a house on the market that she likes.

I looked at the picture and said "It has a nice carpet."

Then my mother said "Oh, I've come in your room with my shoes on" and finished the conversation outside my room.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Northern Ireland

A while ago, I saw a novel in the local library about a family in Northern Ireland. On the front cover was a photograph of different sized shoes left by a door.

As far as I know, removing shoes at the door is not that common in Northern Ireland. I dare say that could change. I know there is a large Chinese community in Northern Ireland.

Anybody from Northern Ireland care to comment?

Shoes outside the door

Today I walked past a house that had three pairs of sneakers sitting outside the front door. They looked like they belonged to some teenage children.

Getting into the habit

I spoke to a woman the other day who said she had adopted a shoes-off policy once after getting a new carpet. However, after a week she went back to wearing shoes in the house with the resulting effect that the carpet had become very dirty.

It is not always easy adopting new habits. It is easy to slip back into old ways. As the testimony of this lady shows, a new carpet will only continue to look new while it is kept clean. The same goes for hardwood floors too and even those 'easy-clean' PVC floors.

Too make a lifestyle change like making one's home shoe-free requires determination.

There are a number of things that will help you to make the change to a 'no shoes in the house' lifestyle.

Firstly, if you forget to take your shoes off at the door and then remember when you are in the living room, don't excuse yourself and leave them on. Take your shoes off straight away. If you make exceptions for yourself, you will give up.

Secondly, don't store your shoes in a closet. Leave them next to the door, either lined up or on a shoe-rack. That way you will notice them when you come in. If they end up in a big heap, it does not matter, they will be even more noticeable.

Get some really comfortable slippers!

Ask guests to take their shoes off as well as your family. That will force you to be consistent. Inviting your friends to a shoeless party will get them used to the idea.

Get into the habit of taking your shoes off when you visit friends. That way it will soon seem weird wearing shoes indoors.

Do readers have any other suggestions as to how one can get into the habit of removing shoes?

Thursday, February 14, 2008

More Guests

I had a couple of young ladies visit the house this evening.

One was polite enough to offer to remove her shoes. The other protested that her feet were smelly, but she took her shoes off anyway.

You Tube: The First Commandment of Carpet Cleaning

You Tube: The First Commandment of Carpet Cleaning

An excellent piece of advice in this video. No prizes for guessing what this first commandment is.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Charleston Gazette: Lose the Shoes

The Charleston Gazette: Lose the Shoes

'In Asia, most people take off their shoes at the door. Is it time Americans followed suit?'

This article is encouraging because removing shoes tends to be more common in the northern, rather than the southern states. But this and the viewing stats for this blog suggests that the south is catching up with the north.

The Empowerment of Blogging

Blogging is a wonderful thing. There has never been anything like it in the history of mankind.

Blogging empowers people to communicate. Anybody with a computer, no matter how lacking in talent or importance can set up a blog and write stuff and communicate it to a potentially unlimited audience worldwide. You and I may never get to write a book, yet we can publish stuff on a blog and people all over the world can read it.

I think it is safe to say that no publisher is ever going to publish a book about people removing shoes in homes. There are cleaning manuals that will suggest having a shoes-off policy and the Lonely Planet Guides will tell you which countries have the custom (a useful thing to know if you are doing any travelling). However, there are no books on just this subject.

Yet blogging has given me the power to publish pages and pages of material about why people should take their shoes off at the door. Blogging has empowered a dull person like me with to make my views heard across the world on this little matter of etiquette. And it has given the ability of anybody who types 'ask guests remove shoes' into Google to spend a few minutes reading my stuff.

There are a lot of blogs that deal with important subjects, government, the economy, the environment, religion. Yet there is room for blogs on less pressing issues like this one.

For those of us who like to keep our floors really clean or free from scratches and who want an atmosphere of peace and comfort in our homes, removing shoes matters. It is a lifestyle choice we have made and is important to us. Blogging has given us the ability to meet online and share ideas and encourage each other in keeping our homes shoe-free. I am grateful to Blogger for that.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Neat Freaks?

re-post

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.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Housewarming Party

re-post

If you are moving into a new house or apartment and you want to make a clean start and have a no-shoes rule, you have an ideal opportunity to kick it off with an housewarming party.

The best thing to do is to indicate clearly on invitations that you will be requiring shoes-off. That way people will have no surpises. They can bring slippers, wear clean socks with no holes or a floaty skirt that looks great with barefeet (Trinny and Susanah actually recommend that hostesses of dinner parties should wear a long skirt with barefeet or slippers).

Having an housewarming party is such an excellent way to send the message that your new house will be a shoe-free zone. Even those of your friends who do not come will see on the invitation that you want shoes-off.

Requiring shoes-off at a housewarming party sends the message that you are really serious about the rule and that it is not just an exception for a wet winter evening. After all, some people with shoeless homes actually make an exception and allow shoes-on in parties. However, having shoes-off at an housewarming makes it clear that you want the house to stay as it was when you bought it.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Swedish Guest

I had a Swdish gentleman visit yesterday. Being from Sweden, a shoes-off culture, he removed his shoes at the door without being asked.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Political Speculation

Despite being British, I am finding the American primary elections so exciting. Those of you who have recently visited my main blog, This is a Cult will know that my preferred candidate is the Republican, John McCain.

Leaving politics aside, I think the candidate most likely to favour shoes-off at the door is Barack Obama, seeing as he is from Hawaii.

While I don't like the idea of this chap becoming president of the United States, it would be nice if he applied this Hawaiian custom in the Whitehouse. I think most ordinary visitors to the place have to take their shoes off to go through security checks anyway.

Take Your Shoes Off, Please - Why Health Customs Make Sense for American Homes

Take Your Shoes Off, Please - Why Health Customs Make Sense for American Homes

Article by Jeanette Joy Fisher

Well done to Rich for pointing this one out.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Natural Attachment: See Mum, No Shoes!

Natural Attachment: See Mum, No Shoes!

Somebody kind enough to post a link to this blog. It is always great to read stuff from people who prefer shoes-off.

Children

re-post

I am always a little surprised when I see children wearing shoes at home, whether on television or in person. It surprises me because when I was a child, my parents expected me to remove my shoes at the door. When I visited my friends' homes, their parents often expected me to take my shoes off. So it always seems a little strange when I see children keeping their shoes on at home.

The practise of removing shoes was expected until I reached the age of about 12. My parents became less stringent about it as I got older. Occasionally this house rule would be revived in later years. It was restored when I was 21 when my parents and I moved to a house with cream carpets, though they were not consistent in keeping to it.

There are some homes, in the UK, where the hosts will expect the children of guests to remove their shoes, but would not expect it of adult guests. Some guests will insist that their children remove their shoes without removing their own. I can understand why some people may be more concerned about children's shoes; children do tend to be less careful about what they step in and are more likely to run around in long and wet grass. However, adults should never forget that their own shoes pick up an awful lot of less noticeable dirt. There is also the fact that children learn to follow rules better when adults act consistently. There is a certain amount of 'do as I say, not do as I do' in the requirement of shoes-off for children only.

Some childcare experts are of the opinion that children should wear shoes to the minimum necessary and therefore recommend shoes-off indoors for health reasons.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Smelly Feet

re-post

The issue of 'smelly feet' is often raised as an argument against the Shoes-Off rule.

In Western society there seems to be a lot of paranoia about the phenomena of 'smelly feet'. I think this is simply a result of people not removing their shoes very often. Your feet will actually smell a lot less if you remove your shoes regularly. It is unfortunate that we in Britain have not yet reached the civilised heights of Finland, where it is acceptable to remove shoes in business meetings and on trains (not that people do not do so in Britain, but it is frowned upon somewhat).

Nevertheless, I think most people worry too much about this issue. People imagine their feet smell far more than they actually do. I have met very few people who let off much of an aroma after removing their shoes, and most of them were people who did not wash and change their socks regularly.

If people know in advance that they need to remove their shoes, they can make sure they wear clean socks, or even better, bring slippers with them. If they are especially worried about it, they can use some of those fancy foot deoderents.

Feet wil smell a lot less if people wear sandals. Sneakers are best avoided in favour of leather shoes.

Some people will say 'I would rather put up with a dirty floor than people's smelly feet.' Well, I guess people decide on their own priorities. However, stinking feet will leave with the guests. A dirty floor will not. Nor will the dust they brought in on their shoes, and that is very bad for your health.