The grey-blue carpet is soft under my feet as I pad down the hallway to answer the door. It's a family friend, stopping by for a visit. He gives me a warm smile, a quick pat on the shoulder and moves past me, paying no mind to the shoes lined up in the entryway. He's talking as he wanders into the living room, but I don't hear a word. I'm too busy focusing on his filthy shoes marking up my clean floors.
I know what you're thinking: She's a clean freak. I promise you, I am not. I'm actually kind of messy. My bookshelves are covered in knickknacks and haphazardly placed photo albums. I almost always have at least one empty water glass lying around, and my dog insists on scattering her toys everywhere. I'm not a perfectionist, and I am a firm believer that a real home is a space in which one can live. But when it comes to my floors, I don't mess around.
is always charged and ready to go, and I even have a special rug at the back door to help protect my carpet from my dog's muddy paws. So when people wear their shoes inside my house, dragging dirt and grime onto my clean floors, well, that's when I start to see red.
In Canada, where I'm from, it's almost second nature to take your shoes off when entering someone's house. But, more than just being a cultural norm that I grew up with, taking my shoes off actually brings me pleasure. It's a sense of coming home; a feeling of knowing that the hard work and stress of the day is over. A sign that I'm back in my comfort zone and it is time to relax. Not to mention, as a woman with a penchant for pretty footwear, more often than not I can't wait to kick off whatever shoes I've squished my feet into for the day. Why other people don't feel the need to do the same, I will never understand.
Back to my main point: I think we can all agree that dirt, mud and grime (along with several other questionable substances that may lurk on the soles of your shoes) are not things that most people want in their house. Not only is it physically unappealing to see streaks of mud or dirty footprints down a hallway, but it's also incredibly unhealthy. Shoes can carry all types of bacteria as well as other toxins from everyday things like weed killer. Would you want that in your home? I don't think so. So why are you bringing it into mine?
What makes it even worse is how obvious it is that I do not wear shoes indoors. If my bare (or sock) feet aren't indication enough, check the lineup of shoes at my front door. It's not a new decoration technique; they are there for a reason. And while this is obvious to most people, there are still some who are completely oblivious.
It also implies something about how the visitor feels about a place. Shoes are meant to be worn to protect your feet and keep them clean. For every person who keeps theirs on, I can't help but take it as a judgment against me and my home. As if my living space isn't clean or safe enough for them to risk taking their shoes off. I understand that, more likely than not, this is never the intention. Given the amount of action that and vacuum see, I can't actually believe that visitors consider my floors to be hazardous. Still, irrational or not, I always end up feeling offended.
So what do I do when it happens? Despite everything I have just explained, I don't actually request people remove their shoes. Perhaps I'm too polite, or maybe it circles back to my worry about them being uncomfortable.
So for the next person who comes into my house, avoiding the obvious pile of shoes by the door and my own bare-footedness, know this: My coping mechanism is to imagine that your feet are the problem, not my floors. I will imagine that you have warts, toe fungus or incredibly odorous feet. I will pretend that your decision to not remove your footwear is to protect my clean floors and barefoot tendencies from your own unfortunate condition. Essentially, I will make you the bad guy in order to make myself feel better. Petty? Maybe. But in the end it's my house, and you're just stepping in it.
Hannah Logan is a freelance writer and travel blogger based in Ottawa, Canada. Follow her adventures on her blog, .
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