I’m back up in northern Wisconsin (so I’m not sure how much blogging I’ll do—I should be out on the lake). But Saturday evening my wife and I went out to eat, and at the restaurant we ate at, I saw a patron with his bare feet resting on another of the chairs at their table.
You’ll never guess what happened next . . .
(Click bait! Click bait!)
This is an area with a plethora of lakes, left over from the glaciers. The area also gets a lot of its income from vacationers. There are boats everywhere, and quite a few of the restaurants are on, or overlook lakes.
So you might expect a fair number of bare feet.
Except you really don’t. Sure, you’ll see them on docks. And while people don’t really get dressed up for restaurants any more, they still manage (reflecting the 50-year change in culture at large) to put on footwear to eat out.
This particular restaurant is one I’ve been going to barefooted for years and years. The current owner (restaurants tend to turn over somewhat rapidly up here—you have to hit the tourist season just right and attract the business or you’re gone) has owned the place for 15 years, and I’ve been eating there barefoot for at least 10. And the owner has seen me, so this is one of those places that I don’t have to worry about going to. (And so I spend a fair bit of money there!)
Here’s the picture of the barefooted patron I saw. (It’s washed out because there was a big picture window there overlooking a lake; it was also taken by my phone camera.)
Of course he really wasn’t in there barefoot (while we do that, so few others do it that we never see them), just resting his feet up there while eating. As I left I saw he had flip-flops.
I’m of somewhat two minds on this. On the one hand, it’s just the sort of thing that can draw complaints from other customers, and then the owner starts to feel they have to do something, and next thing you know all bare feet are unwelcome.
On the other hand, it’s not his feet that are on the chair. It’s his (bare) legs. People concerned about the bare skin of bare feet are somehow not trouble by the bare skin of bare legs. If he was sitting the same way with shoes on, we know folks wouldn’t complain, even with the bare legs touching the seat.
But as I said, absolutely nothing happened. He ate his meal, we ate our meals, everything was copacetic.
But bare feet did come up. As we were paying for our meal, our waitress suddenly looked down and noticed my bare feet. “Oh, you’re barefoot . . . I wish I could be barefoot.”
I actually didn’t notice what she was wearing, but I did see that some of the other waitresses, and the hostess, were wearing flip-flops. That’s a perfect example of what I discussed in Barefoot McDonalds Redux in countering the Licking County Health Departments original contention that shoes were part of the health code. There is no requirement that skin be covered (just that any clothing worn be clean).
As I said, there are a lot of lakes up here, and there are a fair number of restaurants that you can boat up to. And that means a lot of bare feet among the boaters.
But they all shoe-up going into the restaurants. It is really odd; many of those restaurants have outdoor seating, and you will see bare feet there. But go into the restaurant, and you’ll see none. It’s as if they think that a ceiling contaminates feet.
There are even restaurants with outdoor seating but an NSNSNS sign at the entrance to the building. I had one owner talk to me about liability in that regard. But whatever liability they have applies over their whole property. It doesn’t just start at the door to a building.
And just because something is outside doesn’t meant they can’t get sued. Here’s a case from a store parking lot, Krause v. Albrecht Grocery Co.. It’s that people think they know things (bare feet are dangerous in buildings) and never examine their assumptions.
Anyways, it was nice to see a bit of casualness with bare feet, even if they weren’t walkin’ bare feet. Maybe, just maybe, there’s some hope.