In Search of Families In Search of Adventure
A Family on a Bike Tour: New Zealand, Samoa, USA and Canada 2004/2005

Bare foot protest

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From:       Stuart
Subject:   Bare foot protest
  Date:         30th June 2005
     Bend, Oregon, USA


"I'm sorry sir but you can't come in here with your children like that."
"What do you mean?"
"You can't come into the store unless your children have shoes on."
"Well that's why I'm here, to buy them some shoes."
"But we can't allow them in without shoes on sir."
"Well I can't put them on until I've bought them though can I?"
"I understand that sir but it's company policy I'm afraid."
"It's company policy that children wear shoes in your store?"
"Not just children sir, everyone."
"I see. And that's because?"
"It's to prevent injuries sir."
"Oh is it dangerous in store?"
"Oh no sir, it's quite safe but just in case."
"In case of what?"
"Well there could be some broken glass on the floor or something like that."
"I see. How about I carry one and put the other in a trolley?"
"Well, shoes would be better sir."
"Yes, well I'd like to go and buy some."
"OK then sir, but please don't put them down in the store until they have shoes on."

After six months in New Zealand and a month in Samoa, the boys have become rather accustomed to running around barefoot. It seems quite a healthy habit really; their feet are in good condition, they don't smell half as much as they did when constrained by shoes and socks, we've saved a fortune in shoes and don't have the weekly hassle of matching odd socks. But while free feet were quite acceptable in New Zealand and quite the norm in Samoa, this habit seems to cause a lot of concern in America.


"Are those your children running around sir?"
"Yes they are. They're just coming back from the toilet."
"Could I ask you to put their shoes on please."
"You can ask but unfortunately they don't have their shoes with them."
"Well could you carry them back to your table then sir."
"Is there a problem with no shoes in this restaurant?"
"Well, we don't want their feet getting trodden on or cut."
"Oh does that happen often?"
"No sir, most people wear shoes."
"I see."
"So, I'd appreciate it if you could carry them back to your table. Thank you sir."

The kids have shown little interest in wearing shoes, except when tramping through snow in the high mountains or when confronted with scorching ground in the desert. And I'm not keen on the idea of wasting money on shoes and socks that we'll end up carrying between malls and restaurants. But if we want to eat and shop then it looks like I may have to force the issue with the boys or I'll end up with more than shoes to carry.

Perhaps we could start a campaign for free feet, a barefoot protest across America, to establish the right to shop and dine without shoes in the land of the free. We're planning to visit Washington DC so perhaps we can take our protest to the White House. Mind you they probably won't let us in without shoes.



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