Shoeless Office Politics

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Around the office I generally don’t wear shoes. I have shoes. I mean, I walk there, so I generally wear some kind of foot protection on the way. I also have a pair of work-appropriate shoes under my desk but the foot action they usually get is me accidentally kicking them further into the dark confines, mixed with all the computer cords.

I don’t see any dangers in me not wearing shoes, although I’m sure strict health and safety types would argue with me on that point. I generally, you know, try to avoid having my feet stepped on by paying attention to who is walking my way, and in the case of the coworker in a wheelchair I generally step aside while he passes to not only protect my delicate lower digits but also give him enough room to get by me.

People recognize me by my shoelessness. Well, usually they recognize me by my face, as most aren’t so socially awkward they’re always staring at the floor when not protected by office doors or cubicle walls. But when they are far enough to also see my feet, or get a glance at them for some other incidental reason, I would assume they notice, and remember me by that little quirk.

That is how they can tell, the women at least, that I’m in the other bathroom stall in the two-stall gender-specific washroom. I see no shame in being recognized there, as I’ve already been outed as an organic living thing by the dark circles under my eyes and chin breakouts. But it also exposes me for what some people – proper ladies, if you will – think is un-ladylike in a professional setting. Some, for a crazy reason or two, consider number twos or passing gas to be “inappropriate office behaviour”, to which I respond asking “Which unfortunate employee had their office put in the bathroom?”

So sometimes in my socks I step in a small puddle in the break room or the snow/sand mixture near an entrance. But socks dry and sand can be wiped off pretty easily, and if what I step in is somehow an unsanitary or toxic substance that’s unhealthy for my feet I’d say there are bigger problems than my lack of footwear. If there’s a fire alarm I’m pretty sure I can run to pick up a shoe or two before I go outside, and if I’m taken away on an ambulance for some reason (which, interestingly enough, has happened before), well, I won’t be dirtying up the sheets on the stretcher as the inevitably attractive paramedics load me into the back of their emergency vehicle.

If somebody asks why I don’t wear shoes my inclination is to say “Religious reasons” and if they ask what religion I will say “atheism”, as lying twice in a row starts a terrible habit, and it’s far funnier to be inconsistent in conversations you’d rather not be having. The more genuine reason is that I constantly need to fidget and readjust myself, which means when I’m wearing shoes at my desk they will soon be taken off, making it rather pointless to even try. It’s bad enough I can’t comfortably sit cross-legged in a standard office chair. It would be even harder with legitimate footwear. Nobody can argue with that. They can only smile and nod and walk back to their desks shaking their heads and muttering under their breaths wondering how I dress myself in the morning.

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4 thoughts on “Shoeless Office Politics

  1. jeninher30s

    Amazing post!

    I’m generally sans footwear. In past offices, they all came to accept it. They knew I had a small shoe store in my office, so being barefoot while walking from desk to coffee machine wasn’t a huge concern for anyone. And if anyone came to see me, they knew they’d find me with shoes off, and feet on the chair, tucked under me.

    The thing I really don’t get is people who are surprised that I’m barefoot at home, and that this isn’t some sweeping lifestyle choice or new cream carpet thing. I don’t care if people wear shoes in my house, but I just choose not to. I don’t feel comfortable with shoes on most of the time, and why do I need to wear shoes to watch TV, anyway?

    There’s also a fair amount of dismay at my requirement that shoes can be taken off quickly. I like to move my toes about, and if a sock gets bunched up in the toe of a shoe, it becomes a huge distraction that needs to be dealt with. As a result, I switch between flip flops and slide-on winter boots.

    • I find it a bit strange that people prefer wearing their shoes in the house, even throughout those periods of times when I did wear shoes in the workplace. Unless I’m making a brief stop at home coming back from somewhere but leaving shortly after, I take my shoes off. It’s not a neat-freak thing, but a rational decision in favour of comfort and general cleanliness.

      But what can be annoying is when people are so afraid of getting their floors dirty that you have to take your shoes off within a certain space immediately by the door. It’s particularly inconvenient when there’s a crowd of people at once or when you’re coming in and out throughout your time there, especially if that’s through both the front and back doors. (Can you tell I have friends who just bought a new house?)

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