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A fuss over my feet

May 29, 2012

After five months of living almost exclusively barefoot, I had my first real run in. On Memorial Day we drove an hour and a half to the Mississippi Choctaw Indian Reservation. Our minivan was packed with our family of five plus two friends of the kids. Five out of the seven of us were barefoot.

Barefoot friends on crazy casino carpet.

Of course, there’s not much to do in Choctaw but gamble. If you know me, I’m not much for cards, but I’m all about food. With five kids in tow, we hit the buffet at the Pearl River Resort which claims to be “Vegas with sweet tea.”

We happily dropped a wad of cash so that all seven of us could get our fill on food that had been sitting out all day under heat lamps being handled by countless strangers. Pizza, corn dogs, French fries, onion rings, soft serve ice cream with Oreo cookies to spoon on top… The kids were in heaven. But we were stopped before we could even pick up a tray. You can’t go up to the buffet without shoes, we were told.

Now for you shoddies reading this, I want you to really stop and think about how our feet could have potentially been a health hazard to that food sitting under those lamps. Please note, we were not serving ourselves with our feet. Our feet stayed on the floor just like all the shoed feet in the restaurant. Our feet had no more germs on their bottoms than the soles of the shoes worn by the other patrons. If anything, our feet were cleaner. So, could you think of any reason why we shouldn’t have had the right to choose our own foot attire, even if our choice was no attire at all?

How could anyone turn away these sweet feet?

Undetered and with two pairs of flip flops among us, we took turns at the buffet line. Then we were approached by a manager who told us they’ve never had anyone come in barefoot before, but she didn’t think it was allowed. She said she was going to double check with security to see if we could even finish our meal. A few minutes later, a security guard came up to our table, told us that we could stay but that they’d be watching us on their cameras to make sure we left immediately after our meal and that we didn’t return until we had on shoes. His reasoning? There could be broken glass on the floor and it was a liability issue for the casino.

Broken glass? Did this security guard just admit to working for some ghetto restaurant that doesn’t bother to sweep their floors? In any case, I’m not afraid of broken glass. I step on it at least once a week in my own kitchen. This klutz has a knack for knocking drinking glasses off the counter.

While finishing our meal, two people came up to our table and said that they thought all the fuss over our feet was silly. My husband, on the other hand, was thoroughly embarrassed by the affair. But I don’t embarrass so easily. I guess it’s not just the skin on my soles that’s thick.

Incidentally, as we were walking back to our car, I did notice a broken glass bottle on the sidewalk. I decided to step right on it. My feet are fine. And I’m not going to sue.



  1. Kristen permalink

    This is as stupid as people complaining to the bishop about me breastfeeding in the library. Keep on keepin’ on!

  2. Uhh, the world needs to get educated.. Keep up going barefoot, that’s the only thing we can do to change their minds!

  3. Stephen permalink

    Walking on a broken bottle……Crazy….Cool but definitely crazy.

  4. You know, I think the security guard or manager might have been sincere about the reason for the policy. Unfortunately, the contours of tort law in most states makes it necessary for businesses to create such policies and enforce them uniformly. I used to think that the no shoes rule was a holdover from the Jim Crow era, i.e. it was a pretext for being able to refuse service to a particular group. But in law school I learned that, although you certainly wouldn’t sue for getting a gash in your foot by broken glass that staff has not yet been able to clear away, there are millions of people who actually would, and there are even hundreds (perhaps thousands) of people who actually look for lawsuit opportunities like that. Uniform enforcement is the only way a business can address that risk.

  5. Did you explain your reasoning? I assume you did if they let you stay at all. It seems like if people understand it is actually sort of a movement, that changes the conversation. It wouldn’t bother me, but I would understand why a restaurant owner would be concerned about patrons being weirded out. All it would take would be one complaining customer to tell their friends and without understanding that it is intentional and in a small town, owners might worry about their reputation. Which is why I would never own a restaurant for that very reason, I don’t want everyone else’s pet peeves to be my own.

    I feel similarly about homework and school. I don’t want my children to do any homework that kills their spirit and ruins their creativity, most people think that is crazy, lazy, or a bad choice even though the research supports me 100%.

    So… I keep pushing my agenda on others and appreciate your work to do the same in the barefoot world.

  6. John, can you provide a single case on record where someone injured a bare foot and sued when the business was not grossly negligent (where a suit would have been appropriate even if they had been wearing shoes)? Are we living in a society where freedoms are limited based solely on hypotheticals? Can you provide any cases in which a person won a lawsuit from an injured bare foot (where being barefoot was relevant)? In my book (The Barefoot Book), I list a mere sampling of over 100 lawsuits from injuries from SHOES (where the shoe was the source/cause of the suit). It would seem to be me that the actual (in the real world) liability lies with with footwear.

  7. I just told them that I was a barefooter and that I simply didn’t wear shoes. I also told them much of what I wrote about in the blog. I promised not to serve myself with my feet (she didn’t laugh) and I asked how my feet which were staying on the floor far away from the food were a problem at the buffet. I was very polite. I never raised my voice.

    I still blame that lady years ago who sued McDonalds for spilling coffee on herself. But I also think it is a carryover, if not all the way back from Jim Crow, at least from the hippie generation

  8. Matthew Medina permalink

    Yeah the issue of liability is ridiculous. Why would bare feet represent a more substantial risk of legal action, versus say requiring gloves to get in line at the buffet (in case you are burned by the heat lamp/too hot food) or requiring head protection because there’s a CHANCE (however remote) that the ceiling lights could fall. The truth is that they like to hide behind liability because the threat of legal action can, and does, get people to back down and conform with their preference. The odds of getting a cut from going barefoot are comparable with a large number of other risks, none of which the same business is putting any policy in place to protect against. That’s NOT uniform enforcement – its targeted, and I would argue discriminatory, action.

  9. TripletDaddy permalink

    Please start wearing shoes again! Also, ignore Matthew Medina’s pseudo-legal analysis!

  10. Sarah Reed permalink

    Marci, you go girl! I ditch the shoes as often as possible. Yesterday Nick and I were in the yard unshod and my brother came by and made fun of the barefoot hillbilly Reeds. We’re from TN- need I say more?

  11. @ TripletDaddy: Who are you to insist she wear shoes or not? What’s in it for you if she does? Also, I’m curious your reasons as to why Matthew’s analysis should be ignored because it looks mostly sound to me.

    @ Marci: Great blog! It’s unnerving you had to go through that yet sadly not surprising. Also, I have to give you special kudos for your last line. =P

  12. Matthew Medina permalink

    @TripletDaddy – Admittedly I’m not a legal expert – my opinion is based on my own experience of dealing with this over the past 20 years. But since you caution people to ignore my analysis, can we presume that you *are* an expert? So then, I’m sure you can give us the legal justification for singling out a specific activity like being barefoot?

  13. Yoish~ One the exciting things for me about stepping out of shoes and then walking through the shoe box (modern cultural story) is how it reveals the insanity of this modern story. If you really want to have some fun with these kind of people. Put on a pair of socks and walk into their shoe box. It knocks them off their feet, so to speak. They are not sure what to do. I have done it often, and only once had someone say that i needed shoes, and of course i responded and told them that i had on a barefoot shoe, machine made, latest thing out on the market. I remember the guy apologized, and was saying that his kids would love them. Where do you get them. Well i told hm, the “sock rack”, and then went on my way.

  14. Kees permalink

    I am so happy to live in Europe, where liability is never a problem.
    I have been in numerous restaurants barefoot, also classy ones ,and never had any hassles or remarks.
    Keep up the good work !

  15. Shoesareboring permalink

    “There could be broken glass on the floor and it was a liability issue for the casino.”

    Next time such a thing happens, ask “How about the rest of the property? What about the hallways? Sidewalks? Parking lots? What if there is broken glass there? Isn’t all that their property too, and they could get sued from broken glass out there, which is more likely to be present there than in the restaurant? Then tell them the security guard should maybe be at the EXIT door, to make you put shoes on when going outside….wouldn’t that make more sense? Then watch them stumble over their words…..LOL The human race is so incredibly stupid and illogical, makes me wonder how we ever got to where we did so far…..

  16. Did you really walk on that broken bottle?
    You are my idol
    Btw keep up the fight against stupid so called laws against barefoot walking

    • Well, I didn’t technically walk on it. I just stepped on it. I put a lot of weight on it, but not all of my weight.

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