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Archive-Name: barefoot-faq/part2
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Last-modified: 1997/06/06

See reader questions & answers on this topic! - Help others by sharing your knowledge

                     SECTION 4: Getting by in a Shod World

Q14: What can I say to passers-by if they make a comment?

   If it's just a comment, ignoring them is always an option. If they ask
   a question, ignoring them is still an option.

   However, being polite usually helps and some barefooters have gotten
   into some interesting conversations. Maybe you can even make a few

   The responses get nastier or weirder the farther down the list they
   are. It depends on your mood at the time. (Some of the responses can
   be used in response to more than one comment.)

     * _You're barefoot!_
          + You're not!
          + You're observant!
          + You're right!
          + Thanks for the tip.
          + No shit, Sherlock.

     * _Why aren't you wearing shoes?_
          + Don't like 'em.
          + They make my feet sweat/stink.
          + My feet like the fresh air.
          + My feet were hot.
          + One less thing to do in the morning.
          + Why aren't you wearing gloves [hat]?
          + To annoy people like you.
          + Why do you care?
          + I'm allergic to them.
          + I'm not wearing a tie either.
          + I'm off-duty.
          + I'm opposed to wasting petrochemicals/leather.
          + I'm performing a scientific foot-toughening experiment.
          + If I don't keep in contact with the ground, I build up a
            static charge.
          + My feet were jealous of my hands.
          + I'll give you three-thousand guesses.
          + They are a conspiracy by multi-national plastic and leather
          + I knew I had forgotten something!

     * _Why are you barefoot?_
          + I like the way it feels.
          + It's much more comfortable.
          + I think it looks cool.
          + I want to toughen my feet.
          + It's good for my feet.
          + Because feet are beautiful.
          + It gives me this wonderful feeling of freedom.
          + I want keep in touch with the earth.
          + Because I'm not wearing shoes [duh!].
          + Try and work it out.
          + Because I m not concerned with your contempt.
          + Dunno.
          + Because you don't pay my salary.
          + I'm in a time-warp from the '60s.

     * _Where are your shoes?_
          + At home [where they belong].
          + I don't know. [Have you seen them?]
          + Somewhere else.
          + What do you mean? These are God's Reeboks.
          + On vacation.
          + Don't have any.
          + My what?
          + What are shoes?
          + Up there. [Said while pointing up.]
          + Aliens took them.

     * _Aren't your feet cold?_
          + Not unduly.
          + No...My feet are _cool_!
          + Obviously not.
          + Aren't your feet hot?

     * _Nice shoes._
          + Thanks.
          + Very comfortable too.
          + Do you like them? My parents made them for me.


Q15: Is it legal to drive barefoot?

   YES!!! (At least in the United States, Canada, and England; I don't
   know about other countries.) The statement to the contrary is urban
   folklore and believed by so many people, even some police officers.
   However, if you call either your local or state police and ask them,
   they will say it's legal. If the cop on the phone says otherwise, ask
   him/her to give you the statute number. S/he won't be able to and then
   will admit their mistake.

   One guy actually did write to all 50 states asking the question. All
   the letters he received back are available via:

   Additionally, the _American Automobile Association_ (AAA) publishes a
   "_Digest of Motor Laws_" handbook that is a:

     Summary of laws and regulations governing regulation and operation
     of passenger cars in the United States, its Territories, and the
     Provinces of Canada.

   It has a "Barefoot Driving" entry for all states and territories; and
   for each it says: "Operation of a motor vehicle by a driver with bare
   feet is permitted."

   The 62nd edition has ISBN 0-916748-70-7. You can obtain a copy of the
   digest through your local AAA club. When I called my local AAA club,
   they were clueless about the fact thay they sell it. Be persistent. If
   all else fails, you can contact:

        American Automobile Association
        Traffic Safety and Engineering Department
        1000 AAA Drive
        Heathrow, FL  32746-5063


Q16: Why don't many stores permit bare feet?

   There are a few reasons:
    1. Mind-set. Some store-owners have hangups about bare feet for
       absolutely no good reason. Many people are brainwashed into
       thinking you _need_ to wear shoes. They just can't handle the
       concept of bare feet out on the streets. People tend to dislike
       what they don't understand.
       Note that mind-set varies with locale: In the Chicago area, for
       example, many large chain stores and supermarkets forbid bare
       feet. If you go to warmer climates like California or Florida,
       barefooted people are much more common so nobody thinks anything
       of it. Also, if store-owners chased out barefooted customers,
       they'd be doing that all day long.
       On a more global scale, countries like Australia and New Zealand
       are _very_ barefoot friendly. Many, many people go barefoot
       regularly everywhere. Nobody cares and they think it's completely
       natural (which it is).

    2. Alleged health laws. I have written to my township and my county
       and state health departments. There are _no_ laws stating that
       customers may not be barefoot in _any_ kind of store _including_
       food-service establishments. I know others in other states who
       have done the same research: nothing.
       I know a guy who complained to the health department in CA about
       McDonalds displaying the sign, "No Bare Feet by Order of the
       Department of Health." It turned out that McDonald's removed the
       signs (in CA) and wrote a letter of apology to guy who complained!
       For an exercise, I called the headquarters of a large supermarket
       chain in the Chicago area. The woman on the phone was just as
       ignorant: she thought it was illegal to go barefoot into stores. I
       asked her to give me the statute number (knowing full well that
       she couldn't because it doesn't exist). She said she'd have to
       call me back. She actually did and told me that there is no law,
       but it's their "store policy."
       Of course, the bottom line is that a store-owner can refuse to
       serve you for any reason so long as it isn't sex, race, religion,
       veteran status, sexual orientation, etc, etc. Bare feet,
       unfortunately, are not "covered" by anti-discrimination laws. But
       you can spend your dollars elsewhere.
       As an aside, what does _health_ have to do with it? Do they sell
       food off the floor? Yes, when I go barefoot, the soles of my feet
       get very what? Are shoe-soles any cleaner? Dirt is
       dirt. At least I wash myself daily which is most likely more than
       people wash the soles of their shoes.

    3. Broken glass. Store-owners are so afraid that you will step on
       broken glass and sue them, that they just forbid bare feet
       altogether. In one respect, this is a ridiculous thing to say. For
       avid barefooters, broken glass is not too much of a problem. The
       soles of my feet are _very_ thick and tough, the way they are
       naturally supposed to be. I rarely injure myself with broken
       glass. The store-owners, however, don't realize this.
       In another respect, I do have some sympathy for them. The USA is,
       by far, the most "sue-happy" country in the world. And the worst
       part is that dumb-ass juries enable people to win! There was a
       case where one neighbor borrowed another's lawnmower. The guy
       decided that his hedges needed a trim, so he picks up the
       lawnmower while it's still running and, needless to say, injures
       himself very badly. He sued not only the lawnmower manufacturer,
       but also his neighbor for failing to warn him that picking up a
       running lawnmower was dangerous. He won! Given such verdicts, the
       store-owners are just protecting themselves.
       Even if I were to cut myself, I would not sue. I am a big boy and
       realize the possible consequences of my actions and realize that
       most things that happen to me are _my_ fault.


Q17: Which stores do permit bare feet?

   Despite the above answer, there are many stories you can go barefoot
   to. From my personal experience: most any (non-chain) shop in a strip
   mall, Baskin Robbins, laundromats, pizza joints to pick up your pizza,
   the Post Office, Subway, video stores, among others.

   I try to give these places my business. No shirt, no shoes, no money!


Q18: What do you wear when you are forced to wear shoes?

   Soft-soled (treadless) moccasins: there's just a thin layer of leather
   between you and the ground. Unfortunately, they don't work well when
   they get wet since they absorb water. For wet conditions,
   Birkenstocks. (I don't like rubber-soled Tevas because they make my
   feet sweat and _stink_ -- kind of against the whole point of wearing
   sandals.) I was able to find soft-soled moccasins at a
   western-clothing store. Another source is described below.

   [The following was contributed by Don Weber <>.]

     Soft soled moccasins may be purchased from Tandy Leather Company.
     If there is no store near you, then request a catalog from:

                Tandy Leather Company
                Advertising Department
                Box 791
                Fort Worth, TX  76101

     They are a bargain at under $10. They come in the form of a kit
     that you sew together yourself with shoe laces. It's easy because
     the holes are already punched for you. Make sure you get the ones
     without those stupid hard soles stitched to them. The foam insole
     can easily be ripped out as well.

   Another good thing about soft-soled moccasins is that they can be
   folded up and easily stuffed into a fanny-pack. This way, you don't
   have to carry shoes, but you have them in case you are forced to wear

   [Don also likes Knoppy Birkenstocks.]

     Super Knoppy Birkenstocks may be ordered from any store that sells
     Birkenstocks. They rarely stock Super Knoppies because very few
     customers order them. Think of them as a sandal with very wide, but
     blunt and rounded, plastic nails sticking up from the footbed.
     These "nails" are called "knops." They breath better than any soled
     footware I know.


Q19: Is there such a thing as soleless footwear?

   _Bare Bottoms_ or soleless sandals
          They are really just a leather strap worn to make it appear to
          a casual observer that you're wearing sandals even though your
          soles and toes remain naturally and comfortably bare.

          Experience with them indicates that they do in fact fool
          people, the "No Bare Feet" crowd being the chief target. The
          theory is that an observer's brain doesn't notice anything
          unusual in peripheral vision, not enough to glance down. People
          who do glance down may feel too stupid asking a question even
          though they may realize that "something's wrong with this

          You used to be able to get them from _American Science &
          Surplus_ in Skokie, IL; however, they're all sold out and no
          more are being made. The description:

		A pair of 1/2" x 33" leather straps with a
		buckle on one end and a couple of small slits
		with brass studs along the way. The idea was to
		thread the strap around your big toe and arch
		passing through the slits on the way. Viola!
		Something that looked like a sandal but wasn't.
		Perfect to get into a "No shoes, No service"
		spot. Made in 1967 for the anti-establishment
		soleless folks.

          and photo showing them being modeled (by me):


          should enable you to make your own or enable a local
          craftsperson to make you a pair.

   _Hawaiian Sno-Shoes_
          These are also a soleless sandal, but are more intricate than
          Bare Bottoms. They loop around your "index toe" and your ankle.
          A catalog of these, in various styles and colors, may be
          obtained by writing to:

		Hawaiian Sno-Shoes
		301 Moose Hill Road
		Monroe, CT  06468

          A graphic is available at:


   _Barefoot Sandals_
          These are an even more intricate design than Hawaiian Sno-Shoes
          in that there is a portion that wraps up your lower leg. A
          catalog of these may be obtained by contacting:

		The River Studio, Inc.
		1013 Azaleamum Drive
		Three Rivers, MI  49093
		(616) 273-2488
		(616) 273-3310 (FAX)

          There is also a Barefoot Sandals home page:


   _Barefoot Gaiters_
          These are leather coverings for the tops of your feet and
          arches: the toes, balls, and heels of your feet remain bare.
          These are good for warmth. If you can't get these ready-made, a
          good leather crafter can make them for you inexpensively. Or,
          if you would like to make them yourself, there are detailed
          instructions on pp. 74-78 of _The Barefoot Hiker_ (see the
          Reference section).


                             SECTION 5: Reference

Q20: Is there anything written about bare feet?

   _The Barefoot Hiker_

        Author:         Richard K. Frazine
        Publisher:      Ten-Speed Press
        Year:           1993
        ISBN:           0-89815-525-8
        Price:          $7.95 US
        Order direct:   1-800-841-BOOK

          It's a "how-to" book on barefoot hiking, a _very_ pleasurable
          experience. You get to _feel_ the ground, soft soil, grass,
          fuzzy moss, and mud squishing between your toes.

          But it's also on bare feet in general, thoughts, perceptions,
          attitudes, etc. It's a great little book...and at $7.95, it's a

          [See Q21 for information on how to contact Richard.]

   _The Barefoot League_
          This was an essay essay written in 1914 by James Leith MacBeth
          Bain. He wrote about both the pleasures and societal
          difficulties of going barefoot. It seems that some of what is
          true today was also true in 1914. The essay is available via:


   _Endangered Pleasures -- Bare Feet_
          There's a wonderful essay about the simple pleasure of bare
          feet in the book, "Endangered Pleasures," by Barbara Holland,
          Little, Brown, and Company, 1995, ISBN 0-316-37057-6.

          It expresses the way I and many other barefooters feel. An
          excerpt of this essay is available at:


          More information about the book is available at:


          The rest of the book is well-written and humorous; I highly
          recommend it.

   _Dirty Sole Society Writings_
          The Dirty Sole Society (see Q21) has a web page where member
          writings have been placed; a sort of a "best of" collection.
          Also on the same web page are some writings of other
          barefooters as well as links to "The Barefoot League" and the
          Bare Feet essay in "Endangered Pleasures" mentioned above.


Q21: Are there barefoot groups?

   Yes. There are a group of barefooters on the 'net:

   _The Dirty Sole Society_:
          The Dirty Sole Society, of which I am a member, is a group of
          folks who prefer life unshod. There is a "recruiting" ad posted
          monthly to and to other newsgroups.
          Watch for it! Or, you just write me. An excerpt from the ad:

		Real-life stories, experiences, trip-reports,
		thoughts, feelings, and tips having to do with
		bare feet and barefootin' as well as upcoming
		barefoot-related events are the sort of
		material we discuss.

          They also have their own web page:


          that, among other things, has trip reports along with photos.

   _Barefoot Hikers_
          These are groups of folks who prefer to hike barefoot so they
          can _feel_ the various textures of the ground. See the main
          Barefoot Hikers web site for chapter locations:


   _Barefoot Waterskiers_
          These are people who love the indescribable rush they get from
          feeling of the pressure and flow of the water's surface as
          their feet glide over it. They have their own web page:


   _Windjammer Barefoot Cruises_
          Windjammer Barefoot Cruises <> is a
          company that has cruises on masted sailing ships wherein you
          are _encouraged_ to go barefoot the entire time. How about
          that? A vacation especially for barefooters! Write them for
          more information or visit their web page:



                                 END OF PART 2


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