No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service

16 Jan

Today I want to talk about a really disgusting phenomenon I’ve noticed as the summer has settled in and the days have become reliably warm.

While by no means the majority of people are engaging in this, I’ve seen it often enough now that I can no longer classify it as an “exception”.

I’m talking about people who walk around in public barefoot. I’ve seen people walking along the sidewalk without shoes on, going into eating establishments without shoes on, riding their bikes without shoes on (ouch!), or doing their grocery shopping without shoes on. Yesterday, the girl in line in front of me at the OfficeWorks copy center was also barefoot.

I understand that Australia is pretty laid back and maybe a lot of people just want to bring their beach lifestyle into the city, but walking around barefoot is not only dangerous (I hear there are a lot of needles lying around in the vicinity of Victoria Street), but it’s GROSS.

Seriously, I don’t want to see your grody feet and I don’t want to think about what kind of foot fungus you’re sharing with all the people who walked on that floor barefoot before you did. Put some freaking shoes on! Even flip flops would suffice.

So anyway, I was remarking on this unhygienic habit to H and something occurred to me. In Australia, I have never, not once, seen one of those signs that say “no shirt, no shoes, no service”.

Americans, you know what I’m talking about. You see them everywhere in America. I remember the local gas station where I grew up put one of those signs up because so many kids came in barefoot or wearing swimsuits in the summer after having been playing in the sprinkler.

I asked H if such signs existed here and he said he didn’t think he had ever seen one. So now I’m going to be on the lookout for people who aren’t wearing shirts either.

26 Responses to “No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service”

  1. Kristin January 16, 2013 at 11:35 am #

    Yikes! I agree, that’s gross. Not even here in Mexico I see people walking around barefoot!
    Funny, though, that you bring this subject up. I’ve been thinking about all those shirtless guys that I see around here. I mean, I won’t lie, some guys do look great, but still I believe that there is a place for everything. I don’t want to see women in bikinis and shirtless guys in restaurants or supermarkets. Same goes for barefoot folks, but luckily the “barefoot disease” hasn’t spread yet…
    Maybe you should have some signs printed and put them up at night…!

    • housewifedownunder January 16, 2013 at 12:16 pm #

      Yeah, I don’t want to see people walking around in their beach wear unless they are at the beach. (And even then, I might still avert my eyes!) Walking around shirtless is gross just because it looks disgusting. Who wants to see someone’s beer gut hanging out? But going barefoot is an actual hygiene problem and I just shudder every time I see it. I mean, they only mop the floor at the grocery story when there is a spill. It’s filthy in there! I did consider putting up signs under cover of darkness and being all stealthy about it… then I remembered there are CCTV cameras everywhere in this country ruining everybody’s fun. 😦

  2. julienleyre January 16, 2013 at 12:04 pm #

    Haha, I remember the first year I was here, that massively shocked me too – imagine the contrast with Paris! But then I got used to it, slowly. Now I work in a hipster co-working place, and some people don’t even wear shoes at work – took me four years to find that normal!

    • housewifedownunder January 16, 2013 at 12:17 pm #

      It’s not normal. :-p Seeing it for four years doesn’t make it normal. Don’t give in!!!

  3. Colleen January 16, 2013 at 1:42 pm #

    Some people in Japan change into plastic shoes in the office. You would NEVER see barefeet (except in my office where I take my shoes off while I’m at my desk ;)).

    • housewifedownunder January 16, 2013 at 6:51 pm #

      I can’t imagine the Japanese would be comfortable going out in public barefoot! Although now that I think about it, I have never seen any Asians here go barefoot.

  4. Cristin January 16, 2013 at 1:52 pm #

    I’ve thought about this a lot. As someone whose parents would not even let me run around the yard without shoes on because it was a.)dangerous and b.)tacky, I spent two+ years here recoiling every time I saw someone without shoes on and often declared, “no child of mine is EVER going to walk around without shoes on!” But, lately, my attitude is shifting. While I am still concerned about broken glass etc. on the ground, I realize more and more that it is cultural, and, while I am not going to give up MY shoes, I’m not sure it’s a battle that will be top priority to pick with my children, assuming that we still live here when they are pre-teens/teenagers and they are fully Aussie-fied and immersed in beach culture. I’ve even learned recently that there is a whole movement of people (medical professionals included) who consider bare feet most healthy. I’m growing to think it’s very much a cultural perspective thing.

    That said, I once went to work with a teen intern who was not wearing shoes in a professional theatre setting – he was a sweet, hard-working kid, but showed himself poorly by not wearing shoes. Shoes in the workplace is definitely a battle I’ll pick!

    • housewifedownunder January 16, 2013 at 6:53 pm #

      I think it’s one thing for a child to play barefoot and for an adult to do their shopping barefoot. The latter really is a public health issue. I think there’s definitely a time and place for bare feet, but there are a lot more times and places where shoes are called for.

  5. Cosette January 16, 2013 at 5:35 pm #

    I’ve noticed it too. It doesn’t gross me out nearly as much as the shirtlessness though. There are just some things I do not need to see! It’s definitely cultural and I don’t think it has anything to do with the beach. Coming from Miami, Melbourne doesn’t feel beachy to me at all (and people always wear shoes, at least sandals, in Miami). Some Aussies are just so relaxed and informal that it’s almost gauche.

    • housewifedownunder January 16, 2013 at 6:58 pm #

      I agree. Melbourne doesn’t feel beachy to me either. It’s got nothing on Miami. Sometimes I think Australians just like the beach so much that they imagine it follows them wherever they go. Maybe I’m just uptight and old fashioned, but I find the whole “let’s not bother to get dressed” thing very off putting. There’s being relaxed and casual and then there’s just being a slob. Fortunately, the shirtless and shoeless people are only a small minority, but I still cringe whenever I see it. I suppose I was forewarned though. The booklet I got from immigration on Australian cultural values does specifically say that Australians find it acceptable to wear a lot less clothing than people in other countries and that if you’re not okay with that, maybe Australia isn’t the right place for you.

  6. Hailey January 17, 2013 at 10:24 pm #

    If a Hong Kong business had a no shirt no shoes sign they’d go out of business. Not wearing shoes is a national pastime around here – even in winter (which really isn’t all that cold). The scary part is all the men walking around without shirts – except in winter when everyone wears heavy coats (even though it isn’t all that cold).

    • housewifedownunder January 23, 2013 at 10:56 am #

      That surprises me. Somehow when I think of Hong Kong, barefoot people don’t come to mind at all. I hear most of Minnesota has a -46 wind chill today. I bet you don’t miss that at all!

      • Hailey February 6, 2013 at 1:57 am #

        Minnesota in winter is one place you’ll never see bare feet.

  7. Virginia Proud January 18, 2013 at 2:52 am #

    All I can say (as an Australian) is that I hate people’s bare feet, I don’t even like thongs/flip flops. Other people’s toes disgust me – I don’t mind my own. Putting distance between myself and the slob factor is one reason I enjoy living in Europe.

    • housewifedownunder January 23, 2013 at 10:54 am #

      I’m not a fan of flip-flops. I don’t mind them at the beach, because it’s pretty much the only practical footwear to wear in sand, but I don’t like seeing them everywhere else. Not so much because toes disgust me (I don’t have a problem with other kinds of sandals), but just because it is the epitome of sloppy. But Americans dress like slobs, too. I’ve just never seen them make a habit of going around barefoot or shirtless in public, though they could definitely give the Australians a run for their money in any contest of poor dressing. Europeans didn’t used to be slobs and still aren’t compared to Americans and Australians, but I have noticed things going downhill there in recent years, so we’ll see…

  8. Miss Y January 19, 2013 at 6:59 am #

    As a Australian I would have to agree with you here because I too hate it when people enter shops etc with no shoes or shirts on their person. Not because of the grossness factor (I have a fairly strong stomach) but to show respect for yourself as we’ll as others around you.

    It’s like seeing girls wearing those short shorts with their butt cheeks hanging out, I don’t need to see that so cover yourself up!

    • housewifedownunder January 23, 2013 at 10:48 am #

      I completely agree. It is a respect issue. If you can’t be bothered to get properly dressed before going out, then stay home, I say.

  9. L. Palmer January 23, 2013 at 8:08 am #

    Here in Southern California in beach town with a University, many students are embracing what they see as a ‘natural and healthy bohemian lifestyle’ and liberating their feet from the constructs of shoes. It’s also part of a trend towards ‘barefoot running’, which may be better for feet. However, there are now shoes that are designed to be gloves for your feet, more like a rubber sock with toes – the benefits of barefoot, while protecting your feet. I’d much rather see more of those around than blackened and callused feet.

    • housewifedownunder January 23, 2013 at 10:46 am #

      I know a few people who swear by those foot glove things and say they are really comfy once you get used to them. If people are going barefoot for health reasons, there’s no reason they can’t get a foot glove. I think people here are just being lazy!

  10. Lee January 23, 2013 at 6:59 pm #

    Hmm…lucky you chose to live in Melbourne and not Queensland! Up here, thongs and barefeet are commonplace. Not in Brisbane, so much, but everywhere else! And there are often “no shirt, no shoes, no service” signs to be seen….perhaps because it is so common! Mostly in pubs/bars and beachy places, and where there is food service involved. I lived – until fairly recently – in Melbourne for seven years and don’t recall seeing too many shirtless or shoeless people, mostly because it was too cold and Melburnians tend to be more fashion conscious.

    • housewifedownunder January 24, 2013 at 5:34 pm #

      Queensland has way more scary things there than Victoria and barefoot people are the least of them! I do notice the barefoot trend more on very hot days, but I even find that surprising because the pavement is so warm that I would think it would hurt to walk on it with bare feet.

      • Ron December 28, 2013 at 12:42 pm #

        I am actually surprised that you found so many people who agree with you. Personally, I think I see more bare feet at the shops than I do at the beach.

        Even if there were signs that said ”
        No shoes, No shirt, No service” in Australia, do we honestly believe that a well built topless male, or a well built topless female would be refused service?

        Realistically, a large number of shops have young attendants who would find it outrageous to refuse a person service who was barefoot.

        I have lived in Australia for more than ten years and have not succumb to the dubious lure of thongs or the unsafe, unhygienic and disgusting practise of going to a shop, restaurant, and even to a professional appointment barefoot.

  11. Crystal June 22, 2013 at 1:41 am #

    I like walking about barefoot, and I do it a lot, so while this is a super late reply, I thought it would be worth bringing another perspective into the conversation. πŸ™‚

    1) Addressing your concern that going barefoot is gross

    My feet are super easy to wash. πŸ™‚ I wash them every day, which is more than I can say for my shoes. I also drink water from the tap without boiling it (which I would never do in other countries) and I go into public restrooms without holding my breath. It depends on how sanitary the country you live in is. If I lived in a tropical rainforest (I have) where centipedes crawled around on the road (I have) and people pooped by the side (I have NOT… yuck), I would wear shoes all the time!

    I’ve never lived in Australia, although I’ve visited a couple times, and it struck me as a hygienic, clean country. It doesn’t seem terrible to me to go barefoot in such circumstances.

    I’d also like to bring up that most chronically barefoot people have incredibly tough, amazing feet. We can walk on hot concrete without flinching. We can run on gravel roads. Although I can’t do it myself, there are people who go hiking barefoot and suffer no injury. Isn’t this kind of cool? I think it’s neat to be so tough that you can clamber through a forest without shoes and be perfectly fine.

    2) Foot fungus

    While I agree that you shouldn’t walk around barefoot if you *have* foot fungus, foot fungus is a /fungus/ – it doesn’t thrive when your feet are cool and dry, which they usually are when you’re barefoot. Actually, foot fungus thrives when you wear bad shoes. I mean, it makes sense that a fungus would do better in warm, moist conditions, wouldn’t it?

    3) Not wanting to look at bare feet

    …okay, this I don’t understand. I look at people’s hands all the time. I look at their faces. I look at their legs. What’s wrong with their toes? I could see not wanting to look at someone’s beer gut, or issues with modesty, but… what do my toes have to do with modesty?

    4) It’s a respect issue

    That really depends on your view of the world. πŸ™‚ It’s all a matter of knowing when to do something and when not to: wear fancy shoes with a tux, wear dance shoes on the dance floor, go barefoot when it’s appropriate. For some people, going barefoot all the time is appropriate, and who are you or I to tell them it’s not?

    5) Me

    I personally like going barefoot because I absolutely /loathe/ the way my feet smell when I take my shoes off. I wear sandals to most places – on really hot days, even my sandals get a little ucky. Flip-flops hurt between my toes. When I wear tennis shoes all day… I cringe just thinking about it. Ugh.

    That’s not to say that I don’t wear shoes when appropriate. I wear shoes when the occasion demands it at work or in my life. I wear boots when tromping through the snow. I wear cute strappy little heels and pretty cork wedges, just because I’m a girl and I can.

    But I love going barefoot. Feeling cool, nice grass under my toes is maybe one of the most wonderful feelings I know (you should try it sometime, even just on your home lawn). I like feeling the nature of what I’m walking on.

    Hope that brings a little bit of what the other side thinks into your post. πŸ™‚

    • Andre Jensen October 16, 2013 at 2:45 pm #

      Crystal, you are awesome! I am also a barefooter (but I wear shoes to work and when I dress up) and I agree with every word you say. It is quite sad they way the world is heading. One of these days we will all be forced to wear gloves. I love being barefoot and I find a barefoot woman extremely attractive (if she is neat and well groomed). I feel sorry for the American people who seem to really have a dislike of bare feet in general.

      • Crystal October 17, 2013 at 12:55 am #

        Thank you, and I agree, I always stop and talk to people I see barefoot, and they invariably have something fun or interesting to say. Rumour has it that there’s a guy at my workplace who’s capable of walking barefoot in the snow… I’d sure like to meet him!

        I live in America, and so far I haven’t encountered too many people being offended at my barefoot state (although it’s getting a bit too cold now).

  12. Werner July 27, 2013 at 8:16 pm #

    I agree with every sentence you have written!
    My wife and me, we are living for many years completely without shoes.
    There is really NO reason for wearing shoes (except safety in work or similar).

    Please, except my bad English – it’s about 40 years ago when I lerned it).

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