A short story I wrote some time ago. It's not one of my best.
In British schools, there has been legal requirment for a "daily act of worship, of broadly Christian character." I imagine that sounds completely bizarre to Americans. These 'worship' ceremonies are called assmblies and typically involve no more than the headmaster telling a story with a moral lesson ('broadly Christian character'). It's not a rigidly enforced, but it is still technically a legal requirement (please don't argue with me about this).
These assemblies are often held in gyms, hence this story. I remember when I was eleven years old, our head of form used to wear really high heels and kick them off for the school assembly in the gym.
Kate was just grabbing a coffee in the school staff room when she was approached by Judy, the headmistress.
"I liked the display you put up in your classroom, Jane," said Judy. "Those kids put some real effort into that work and it shows."
"Thanks a lot, Judy," replied Kate.
"Um, I know this might sound awkward, Kate, but I have noticed that when your class take their shoes off in the gym for the assembly, you keep yours on," said Judy, looking slightly embarassed.
"Yes, I do. I always make sure the class take their shoes off before they come in the gym though," replied Kate. "I've always kept mine on. Jennifer and Helen keep their shoes on too."
"Um, yes. Well I was going to speak to Jennifer and Helen too. I just caught you first," said Judy.
"You want us to take our shoes off too?" asked Kate, making a face.
"Seriously? Is that really necessary? I mean, the kids take their shoes off in assembly, so it can't make that much difference," argued Kate.
"Yes, but their shoes are all flat. Your shoes have heels. And I have noticed a few scratches in the gym," said Judy.
"I'd rather not take my shoes off. I'd feel a bit silly with my class in my stocking feet," said Kate.
"You're not the one giving the lesson. I'm the one standing in front of them all and I take my shoes off," said Judy.
"You don't feel at all silly?" asked Kate.
"No. And it gives my feet a break," replied Judy.
"But you know what my class are like. When they are coming in for assembly, they are pulling each other's hair and talking. How am I supposed to keep my authority with them when I'm standing their with no shoes on? I'll be a good deal shorter as well," protested Kate.
"You really think it would make that much difference, Kate?" asked Judy, who was starting to look exasperated. "I'm not sure why you are being difficult about this."
"I dress for work. I dress to present an image of authority and elegance. And now you want to take that away from me."
"I'm not asking you to teach the class in a boiler suit. I'm not asking you to have your shoes off all day. I'm asking you to take your shoes off for twenty minutes during assembly. Is that so difficult?" asked Judy.
Kate said nothing.
"You can always wear slippers in the gym," suggested Judy.
Kate gave a disgusted look.
"No thanks! I'd feel ridiculous in my bedroom slippers. I'd rather be barefoot if I have to be," she replied. "You are absolutely firm on this?"
"Yes, Kate. We spent a lot of money on that gymnasium. There is no money in the budget for replacing the floor."
"Fine, but if you get ill, I'm not leading the assembly," said Kate with a shrug.
"Sure Kate. Get the vicar in to give a talk if that happens," said Judy, satisfied with winning the argument.
"If he does, I'll leave it to Helen to ask him to take his shoes off."