The Sentinel and Enterprise, in Fitchburg, MA has an advice columnist. In today’s issue, there’s this horrible office situation that “Dear Annie” has to deal with.
You’ll never guess what it is.
The column is Barefoot co-worker baffles colleague. Here’s the question (criticism):
DEAR ANNIE: I have a different problem with people taking off their shoes. I work in a small office where we have outside visitors on a daily basis. One woman who works here likes to take off her shoes and walk around barefoot. No socks, no slippers, nothing. I think this is totally disgusting, as well as unprofessional.
The managers in the office see this, but nothing is said. I have been trying to ignore it, but it’s such odd behavior that I’m simply baffled. I’ve worked in other offices for 15 years, and this is a first. Any advice on what to do? — Save Your Feet for the Beach
My advice? Don’t be a prig and mind your own business.
But that wasn’t what Annie said:
DEAR BEACH: Perhaps your co-worker finds shoes confining and uncomfortable, or she has problems with her feet. Nonetheless, it is inappropriate to walk around this way in an office where outside visitors stop by regularly.
If the managers don’t mind, there probably isn’t much you can do. But you can certainly say to the woman (with sincere concern), “You know, there are probably a lot of germs on that floor. I’m worried that you might pick up something awful, or step on a loose staple. You ought to protect your feet by wearing slippers.” It might not help, but it can’t hurt to try.
Yeah, she might have problems with her feet (or maybe ankles or knees or hips)—how nice you’re concerned. And I understand how there might be outside visitors who might stop by.
But did you ever consider that the outside visitors probably don’t care as long as they are properly taken care of? Heck, they probably secretly wish they could go barefoot at work, too.
However, as for “sincere concern”, try not to be an ignoramus. There are enough unknowing people out there that you can be sure that the barefoot woman has heard it before. And she almost assuredly knows that the whole germs thing is a diversion (and an excuse for pelmatophobia). Hands are not only way germier but we also keep touching our faces (mouths, noses, eyes) with them. When’s the last time you touched your face with your foot?
And a staple? Please. As if staples really are a problem. They’re not. Regular barefooters simply have never had a problem with them (and even other objects that scare shoddies even more).
So when it comes to dispensing “advice” about a woman who clearly knows what she is doing, and you don’t know much about it, expect . . .
“Like We’ve Never Heard That Before”.