Wednesday, January 30, 2008
She complained that while back in Poland people always take their shoes off and the host may offer to let guests keep them on (an offer normally declined by the guest), in New York the situation was very different. Every time she visited a friend she would be asked to take her shoes off when she would have removed them anyway. She found it really annoying being asked to take her shoes off when she that was her normal custom.
Let me apologise in advance to any Polish people if this happens to you in my house. If you are Polish, I know from experience that you will take your shoes off without being asked, but just in case I do ask you, please be understanding.
Dear Poles, you must understand that we British and Americans are less socially advanced. People in the West have to be trained to remove their shoes. That is why some of us ask for guests to remove their shoes. But maybe if you people keep coming to our country and settling here that might change and we shall all be well mannered enough to always remove our shoes.
Sunday, January 27, 2008
from wikiHow - The How to Manual That You Can Edit
When you invite someone to your house it can be pretty awkward to ask them to remove their shoes- especially if they are wearing sandals or flip- flops. Here's how to do it.
- Create an area clearly visible from the entrance where you can place your shoes that you have taken off. When people enter, they'll see the "shoe area" with you and your family's shoes, they'll see you (and other household members) without shoes on, and hopefully they'll put two and two together.
- Invite them in to the house. Try saying, "Do come in - you can put your shoes on the rack." That way the request is tagged neatly on to the invitation to enter. In fact, it would be very awkward at this point for your guest to do anything other that remove their outer footwear.
- Know that if they should not take the hint, ask again more firmly, but politely. Give a good reason for asking them such as having had new carpets or having just had them cleaned, the weather being particularly foul or you can say that your driveway is gritty and you're trying to minimise how much of it gets walked in.
- You might provide socks or slippers for guests. In Japan, it is unheard of to walk into someone's house in your shoes which are always left outside, and pretty slippers are always available. These can be bought quite cheaply in most high streets. However, you will probably find that most guests will prefer to be in socks or barefeet than wear borrowed slippers.
- It is best to let people know in advance that you would like them to remove their shoes. You could say "Oh, by the way we don't wear shoes in our house. You may want to bring some slippers."
- If you are inviting guests to a party, write your request for 'no shoes' on the invitation.
- Provide socks or slippers for guests. In Japan, it is unheard of to walk into someone's house in your shoes which are always left outside, and pretty slippers are always available. These can be bought quite cheaply in most high streets.
- Have scented foot spray available in case your guest is embarrassed at having foot odour.
- Ultimately, it is your responsibility as a host to ensure that your guests feel welcome in your home. If your guests wish to keep their shoes on you must ask yourself which is more important - your flooring or your friends.
- While it may be scary to ask people to take their shoes off, remember that most people will feel more comfortable for having removed their shoes. Most people will not be at all bothered by having to remove their shoes. If you are a good host, most guests will be happy regardless of whether they are in their shoes or not.
- Some people will not understand why you wish them to remove their shoes in your home, and may be offended.
- In some cultures, having bare feet is a sign of disrespect.
- Some people may have a good reason for not removing their shoes - be sure you know that they are not going to be embarrassed by your request.
Article provided by wikiHow, a collaborative writing project to build the world's largest, highest quality how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How to Ask Someone to Take off Their Shoes at Your Home. All content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons license.
Saturday, January 26, 2008
Friday, January 25, 2008
Thursday, January 24, 2008
While I try to keep this blog relatively separate from my religious and political opinions, I think it is right to speak out here on the issue of homelessness.
This blog is all about promoting the shoes-off rule. It is about valuing homes. People should value their home by taking their shoes off at the door. It is good for us to value our friends' homes and remove our shoes when we visit others. It is right and proper for hosts to encourage their guests to show respect in their homes by removing their shoes. Homes are precious things and we should value them.
Sadly, there are many people in the UK who are homeless.
Housing is a basic need. When we people lack a roof over their heads, they can suffer in so many ways. When there are people in society who are homeless, all kinds of social problems are caused.
I am proud of the fact that here in the UK, local government authorities have a legal duty to provide housing to homeless people. Nevertheless, there are still faults in the system. There are too many people living in temporary accomdodation. There are too many families who live in poor quality housing. And there are people who fall through the system completely and end up sleeping rough.
I have decided to link to Shelter, a UK charity that fights against homelessness and champions decent housing for all.
Shelter is sometimes associated with the Left of British politics. Maybe.
As a Conservative I believe that people need to be responsible for themselves. Nevertheless, I believe it is right that Britain is a welfare State. Sometimes people need help to get through crises in their lives and sometimes the state is best able to provide that help.
As housing is such a basic human need, I think that housing needs to be a clear priority of the government. We cannot deal with problems such as crime, substance abuse and educational failure without addressing issues of housing.
Remember that not everybody has an home, so treasure your own and always take your shoes off at the door.
They removed their shoes when they came into the house in which we meet. That followed the normal pattern at the meeting of the younger people removing their shoes and the older people keeping them on.
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
An unpleasent fungal infection.
A lot of people mention Athlete's Foot as an argument against people having a shoes-off policy. However, this is a quite unnecessary concern.
Athlete's Foot is generally associated with swimming pools and changing rooms. It is possible to catch Athlete's Foot on one's barefeet at a swimming pool or in a locker room. However, recent research indicates that this is not so likely as was previously thought.
Most importantly, the reason people catch Athlete's Foot in those places is not because people there are barefoot, but because the fungus needs a warm and wet environment. People get exposed to the fungus in the damp conditions. If they fail to dry their feet, the fungus is very comfortable and even more so if the victim puts on sweaty socks.
The fungus will not survive long on the clean, dry floor or carpet of a person's home and so you are very unlikely to catch Athlete's Foot in somebody's house, even if the owner has the condition.
What is more, people who are not wearing socks are likely to put on sandals when they leave, as opposed to closed shoes. Thus, they will not create the right environment for the condition to thrive.
Of course, if you are worried about it, you can always bring some slippers or socks when you visit a shoes-off home.
People who have a shoes-off policy ought to let their visitors know in advance and be willing to lend a pair of clean socks, if not slippers.
Monday, January 21, 2008
In some Eastern European and Asian countries, guests change from their shoes into slippers provided by the host.
Some argue that if you intend to have a shoes-off policy in your home, you should keep some slippers for guests to wear. This will make them feel more comfortable and prevent embarassments such as foot odour and holes in socks.
This is a fairly good idea, but I am not so sure. If slippers are provided, then they must either be disposable plastic slippers or else slippers that can go in the washing machine. It would be quite unreasonable to expect guests to wear slippers that have been worn by somebody else that day. I am not sure whether most slippers are machine washable. Some guests might not even trust you that they really have been cleaned and may prefer to stay in bare or stocking feet.
I think the practise of providing guest slippers might be just a bit too weird for British. Many British people will have been to a house where shoes-off was required, but not many people will have been offered guest slippers to wear, unless it was in another country. I think a lot of English guests would prefer to go shoe-less, rather than wear slippers that are not their own.
I think it is a good idea to buy slippers for family and regular visitors and keep them at your house. These should be worn only by the person they are provided for. Hopefully, one's family and close friends would be delighted by this consideration.
Providing clean socks is a different matter. I would suggest keeping a supply of clean socks in different sizes by the door for guests who are not comfortable going barefoot.
I think it is very sensible to let visitors know in advance that one has a shoes-off rule in one's home. That way, they can be sure to wear socks without holes or bring their own slippers if they prefer.
Thursday, January 17, 2008
Thanks go to Richyrich for directing me to this one.
I do notice that a lot of blogs that post on this issue have an emphasis on 'going green'. That rather makes mine an odd one out. However, if 'going green' makes me people get into the habit of taking their shoes off at the door, I won't give them any Eco-Scepticism.
I think for friends I would go for the very direct no.6 (Could you take your shoes off, please?) and for people I did not know, I would use the more restrained no.4 (Are you alright with taking your shoes off?).
It may be that you are just too shy to use the more direct requests. However, you might find that the softest approach no.1 works a lot of the time. If you are barefoot and there are a lot of shoes by the door, you may get the right reaction just by saying:
You can take your shoes off here, if you like.
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
1. You can take your shoes off here if you like.
2. We take our shoes off here.
3. We do like visitors to take their shoes off.
4. Are you alright with taking your shoes off?
5. You don't mind taking your shoes off, do you?
6. Could you take your shoes off, please?
7. Take your shoes off, please.
8. Shoes off.
9. Shoes off now!
Sunday, January 13, 2008
The National Trust (an English heritage organisation) has a rule that if you visit their properties and you are wearing heels smaller than a postage stamp, you have to change into slippers. The heels this girl was wearing looked smaller than a pencil point.
Fortunately, I know her parents do not allow shoes in their house. Very sensible people.
Thursday, January 10, 2008
Some people are of the opinion that it is very important that guests have the choice of whether to keep their shoes on or not.
However, it is not as simple as that. Some choices may impose on the choices of others.
Some visitors may want to take their shoes off, but may fear that doing so will be considered rude. Being informed that shoes-off is encouraged will be a great welcome for these people.
The shoes-on folks might then argue, "Yes, but you can still let people keep their shoes on without imposing on the people who prefer to go shoeless."
However, this is not the case. Firstly, those people who want to take their shoes off may fear, if there are lots of other guests, particularly at a party, that their feet may get squashed by other peoples' shoes. In a crowded party, it can be hard to avoid having people tread on your toes.
Secondly, people who take their shoes off will prefer to walk on a floor that is cleaner. In fact, there is another issue here, as Angie pointed out in a previous post. Some guests will enjoy sitting on the floor. And sitting on the floor is a much more pleasent experience when it is clean. So allowing guests the choice of wearing shoes imposes on those who like to sit on the floor.
The simple truth is that no host can please everybody. However, there are far more good reasons to insist on shoes coming off at the door than for allowing shoes to stay on. Let guests chose between slippers, socks ot barefeet. That is choice enough.
Wednesday, January 09, 2008
Some people claim it is selfish to ask visitors to remove their shoes. They think that it shows excessive concern for one's carpet or flooring.
On the contrary it is not selfish at all.
Firstly, there is an health issue involved. Peoples' shoes pick up dust and animal excrement which is not good for one's health and especially bad for the health of one's children. If one has babies or small children that play on the floor it is extremely sensible to keep one's home shoe-free.
There are many worries today about the health risks posed by pollution, toxins and chemicals. Personally, I think many of these health scares are exagerrated. Many of the supposed health risks have not been scientifically verified. However, it is best to keep as much nasty stuff out of the house as possible.
Secondly, the notion of selfishness here is relative. In a country where shoe-removing is the norm, like Finland or Russia, it would hardly be selfish to insist on shoes-off.
In Britain or the USA, where keeping shoes on is the norm, there are many people who would like to insitute a shoes-off policy, but who are afraid of causing offence or being deemed 'selfish.' If a person is brave enough to insist on shoes-off, she makes it easier for those other people who feel that they would like to make their homes shoe-free. In time, the norms of the UK and the USA may change and shoe-removing may become as normal as it is in Thailand or Sweden.
Tuesday, January 08, 2008
I believe there is an issue of stewardship here.
All that we have is a gift from God. We may enjoy our posessions, but we do need to give account to the Lord of how we have used them.
Carpet cleaning services are necessary to keep homes really clean, but they are very expensive. Replacing carpets costs even more. Having a shoes-off policy considerably reduces the need for maintaining carpets and other kinds of flooring. Therefore, as stewards of God's gifts, I would suggest that Christians ought to strongly consider the benefits of having a shoes-off policy in their homes.
Clean homes can also be more effectively used in the service of the Kingdom. Homes can be put to so many uses; entertaining visiting speakers, providing shelter for those who need it, hosting fellowship meetings (I think a good case can be made for holding all church meetings in homes) and Church lunches. Keeping homes shoe-free means that larger numbers of people can be accomdated at the home with minimal impact. It also makes the floor a safer place for small children and babies.
Monday, January 07, 2008
You may not have a baby at crawling age
But if you ask visitors to your home to remove their shoes, you send a message that it is acceptable to keep your home shoe-free. That makes life easier for those who do have crawling babies.
You may not have a new carpet
You may have an old carpet that needs replacing or a wooden
floor that is covered in scratch marks. But if you have a shoes-off policy, it will make it easier for those who do have a new carpet to do the same.
You may not live in an area where there is pesticide on the ground
But if you have a no-shoes rule in your house, it will make those who do need to require shoes-off feel more comfortable about it.
Sunday, January 06, 2008
Friday, January 04, 2008
You may be sick of the Calvinist/ Arminian debate, so let me introduce you to some new theological terms; Tramplian and Offalist.
Tramplians like to trample the carpets or flooring of their homes with their shoes on. They find it rather objectionable to be asked to remove their shoes when visiting somebody else's home.
The central principle in Tramplian theology is the freedom of the will. They believe that they should be the ones to decide whether they take their shoes off at a dinner party. Their attitude is "I decided what outfit to wear. I decided what shoes to wear. I should be able to keep them on if I like". They do not believe that a hostess should impose shoelessness on them.
Tramplians have a strong belief in the goodness of hosts. They consider that a hostess should be above all concerned for her guests wishes and convenience above keeping her home clean. They believe that if a hostess likes them enougth to invite them into her home, she will accept them with their shoes on.
Tramplians believe in the power of their own ability to keep their shoes clean. They consider themselves to be grown-up and to be careful about what they tread on. They do acknowledge that their shoes can be tainted by the corruption of dirty streets, however they hold that this can easily be dealt with by wiping their feet on their hostess' doormat. Their shoes can be restored to cleanliness by the exercise of their will.
Offalists in contrast, always remove their shoes at the door. Offalists believe in the Total Depravity of the soles of their shoes. The corruption of city streets has completely ruined the condition of their shoes, they argue, and the only hope is a change of nature for their feet, namely into slippers or clean socks. The Offalist pays heed to warnings about the health risks of pesticide, lead paint and animal excrement.
The Offalist upholds the sovereignty of the host. The hostess has been very generous in inviting her guests, however, she is sovereign over her own home and has the authority to set the rules. She will not allow anything corrupt to defile her home. Those who would enter her home must not come in their own shoes, but must meet her condition of a change into slippers or stocking feet.
The Offalist holds that the root problem of the Tramplian's theology is human pride. The Tramplian is proud of her ability to make decisions about her outfit. She is proud of her Manolos, her Prada heels or her Jimmy Choo boots. She is too proud to combine her outfit with stocking feet. She resents the idea that her hostess would not accept her in her own shoes.
The Offalist argues that if the Tramplian would only forsake her pride, she would actually find that she was far more comfortable in slippers, socks or bare feet. Her determination to remain in her stilettos will in the end hurt her feet and drag her to destruction. She may well remain outside the dinner party in the outer darkness.
Thursday, January 03, 2008
37 Reasons for having a shoes-off policy in your home:
1. Carpets are not easy to clean.
2. Carpets absorb dust and become breeding grounds for dust mites, causing the development of asthma and allergies.
3. If you do not have a carpet, the dust will not be absorbed and you are likely to breathe it in.
4. Shoes can leave marks on wood, PVC and marble floors.
5. Shoes can scratch wood flooring, especially if they have high heels.
6. Boots and high heeled shoes can cause wear and tear to carpets.
7. That goes for rugs as well.
8. Shoes pick up small particles of grit that cause wear and tear to carpets.
9. Shoes pick up traces of petrol fumes and industrial pollution.
10. Shoes can pick up pesticides, fertilizers and other chemicals.
11. Shoes pick up traces of animal excrement.
12. Ever noticed how much chewing gum there is stuck to the streets?
13. In a square mile, there are more insects than people on the planet. How many do you think you have squashed on your shoes?
14. If you have a crawling baby, do you want him or her to be exposed to the dirt from people's shoes?
15. In rain or snow, you are less likely to get the floor wet.
16. If you live near a beach, you will bring less sand into the house.
17. If you have a crawling baby, you will do less damage if you accidently step on him or her.
18. If you get mad and kick the cat or dog, you will do less damage (apologies to animal lovers).
19. If your children play rough, they will do less damage.
20. It creates a less formal atmosphere.
21. It creates a greater sense of relaxation.
22. Your guests will become more like you by removing their shoes and will feel part of the family.
23. An oriental, Scandinavian or East European visitor will feel more at home.
24. It teaches children the importance of respecting and looking after things.
25. Psychologically, removing your shoes helps you to enter a frame of mind where you keep your everyday troubles outside your home.
26. It is more comfortable.
27. It is healthier for you feet to take your shoes off during the day.
28. Small children with growing feet should wear shoes only to the minimum.
29. If you wear high-heeled shoes, your feet badly need a break.
30. You can put your feet up on the sofa without taking your shoes off first (Dont tell me you put your feet on the sofa with shoes on?).
31. You can put your feet up on the coffee table without taking your shoes off first.
32. If you ever visit Japan, it will seem less weird.
33. If you are ever arrested and they confiscate your shoes, along with your belt and jewellery, it will seem less weird.
34. Your feet smell less if you do not wear shoes all day.
35. When you lovingly chastise your children, you will have a slipper to hand.
36. It was a Biblical custom (come on, did they wash their feet with shoes on?)
37. Do you really think the Saints in Glory are going to trample the sparkling, clean New Jerusalem with shoes on?
Wednesday, January 02, 2008
I thought I would post this video link again. I know it is not about shoe removal in homes, but it does feature shoes-off in a rather different context.
I think it is rather funny the way the police officers are trying so hard to be nice to the girl. One can understand the girl being rather distressed, but it is not down to the police officers' treatment of her.
I just the love the line from the female cop "I'm here to talk to you and make you feel better." I do hope the British police are that nice in the event of my being one of their guests.
Tuesday, January 01, 2008
I have posted this link at least twice before. The discussion started in 2006 and people still keep commenting there.
This one got rather heated in places.
In the lounge they had under-floor heating. It was lovely and warm.
If I had not taken my shoes off at the door, I am sure my feet would have been drenched in sweat.
Under-floor heating is quite common in shoe-removing South Korea.
I am sure under-floor heating is expensive, but it does go really well with having a shoes-off policy.