I was shopping on Friday at a different grocery store than my usual one. As I was wheeling my cart along, one of the employees pointed at my feet and said, “You’re in the wrong store.”
But I bet it’s not what you think.
It’s funny how we tend to orbit our comfort zone. We get used to doing things a certain way. We go to the same places; we mainly shop the same places.
I suspect that’s particularly true when one regularly goes barefoot. You’re just interested in getting your stuff done, so you go to the places where you haven’t been hassled before.
But it is also true that we tend to exaggerate in our minds the possibility of attention. Even in new places, it doesn’t happen much.
But there are times when it can be a real surprise.
Here’s a bit of a cute anecdote about Dizzy Dean before he became a pro pitcher.
It’s from Bennett Cerf’s column in 1959.
Dizzy Dean, one of the all-time baseball greats, tells this story
on himself. When he was pitching for an Arkansas hillbilly nine in
his salad days, a rival outfit, determined to undo him, sprinkled
broken blass around the mound. Diz, barefoot, hurled six shutout
innings without a squawk, but then he stalked over to the rival
manager and grumbled, “Joe, you just gotta get this broken
glass away from here. It’s cuttin’ up the ball!”
There’s an interesting movement out there called “Free-Range Kids”. It’s based on a book with the same name, by Lenore Skenazy.
The basic idea is that we are over-coddling our kids by not letting them go out on their own and explore, that we hover over them with horrible, unjustified concerns about their safety. Yet, my generation grew up riding our bicycles everywhere and given the freedom to explore and learn. (And it’s not like things are less safe these days, either.)
What prompts this entry is an incident in which a police officer brought a kid back home for being barefoot.
Like nearly all southern boys of his age, President Jimmy Carter went barefoot as a boy. He wrote about it in his book, An Hour Before Daylight, Memories of a Rural Boyhood.
This is what he wrote:
As you all may have been able to tell, I was up north over the weekend. That entailed a bit of restaurant eating, which led to my Restaurant Tips for dining barefoot. While we were up there, we also ate at another restaurant (twice). It’s local, and I’ve been eating barefoot there for years without a bit of problem. I think the owner has even seen me barefoot (when you go there that many times, you are bound to be noticed eventually). So it is a very pleasant, stress-free place to go.
But one other thing happened that prompts this particular entry.