In Asia, it is the custom for every person entering your home to first remove their shoes before walking through the door.
Simple, right? Ha, no. Aaron and I have a ridiculously hard time adhering to this one.
Yet everyone does it. EVERYONE.
The guys that moved our stuff into our apartment even removed their shoes. They would get a box from the truck, carry it up several flights of stairs, remove their shoes at our front door and then carry it to the desired room. Then on the way out the door, they'd put their shoes back on to grab the next box. It was a maddening thing to watch. How much of their day is wasted messing with their shoes? So after watching them fumble to remove their shoes while holding our heavy bedroom mattress, I finally had to stop the madness.
"Please just leave them on! I'll have to clean the floor anyway! It's fine, I swear."
They were very reluctant, but finally agreed that it'd be easier.
Yet, every maintenance guy that comes to our place refuses to keep his on. It's just not something they are equipped to do.
So fine. We got used to that part. And we got used to having to remove our shoes when we went to Simon's house or any other local's house.
What we do still have trouble with is our American friends.
It seems that every single American person we know in Singapore immediately picked up this Asian custom as soon as they stepped off the plane.
I cannot remember going to a single person's house in America where they made me take off my shoes before I was allowed to come inside. (That is, unless it was raining, snowing or muddy outside, but that's common decency.)
Seriously though. Why the flip as soon as we enter Asia? Are there shoe police somewhere that I don't know about? When did all of my American friends adopt this?
I have a real problem being barefoot in a stranger's house. It makes me feel very vulnerable. I even feel hesitant to remove my shoes when I'm getting a pedicure. I'm always thinking:
"Is their floor clean?"
"When was the last time they cleaned it?"
"Does anyone in this house have athlete's foot?" (call me crazy, but I got this once as a child from a gymnastics studio and that is a road that I NEVER want to travel down again)
"Am I going to step on anything?"
"Is my pedicure chipping?"
I know I have issues. I just don't feel comfortable being barefoot in someone's house that I don't know that well.
Aaron has issues with it as well, only his worries a different. He says that he's always thinking:
"Are my toenails dirty?"
"Do my socks match?"
"Are there holes in my socks?"
"Do my feet stink?"
Yeah, we're both a bunch of anxiety-ridden weirdos, I guess. Sometimes we just keep them on to see if we can avoid the whole thing and then feel like goobers when people send us back out to remove our shoes.
I've never told anyone this, but each time I remove my shoes, the scene from SATC always plays through my head.
I too, always want to exclaim "But this is an outfit!"
But really, if my shoes ever get stolen, I will never take them off again.
Not that I have any worthy of stealing, but still.