Thank you so much for welcoming me into your country. I love so much about this place – the weather, the culture, the people, the scenery, and so much more. But there is one thing I need to say to you. Now, please don’t take offense. I mean you neither harm nor insult, but I feel this needs to be said for your own well being. Ok? Good. Ready? Here we go: please put on some fucking shoes.
One of the most ridiculous phenomena in Australia is the severe lack of shoes on people’s feet. I walk around this city every day and every day without fail I see at the very least one Australian walking around completely barefoot. Some days it’s many Australians walking around barefoot.
Now, some of you in America may not understand, so let me spell it out a bit clearer. People in Australia will walk around completely barefoot – no shoes, no sandals, not even a pair of flip-flops. This is not just at the beach or at a park. And they aren’t just in their homes or offices. These people are walking down the street, going into stores, or doing whatever else they do in their normal day without any shoes or other or covering on their feet. These people walk down busy streets in the middle of a bustling city and go into supermarkets and other stores without any semblance of any sort of protective gear on their feet.
Why this happens, I have not a clue, but I find it completely horrifying. “But Phill, aren’t these people free to do as they please?” No. They aren’t smart enough to be trusted with shoe decisions because obviously they haven’t thought this through. Had they thought this through at all, they would have considered the following:
1. Sidewalks in Sydney are not paved with gold. They are paved with rough cement or asphalt just like sidewalks in any other country. Doesn’t walking on rough surface all the time have the effect of totally jacking up your feet? I certainly hope these people don’t fall in love with someone who has a foot fetish, because one look at those mangled feet and their lover will head for the hills.
2. The climate in Sydney is anything but mild. Summers can get well above 100 degrees Fahrenheit, and the hot sun beating down on black asphalt all day has the effect of heating that asphalt up to a more than uncomfortable temperature. So yes, walking around barefoot may burn a bit, or maybe even begin cooking your feet. People still do it. Gluttons for punishment? Kinky bastards? Or just plain idiots?
3. Sydney is a big city, and despite being relatively clean compared to other cities of its size, Sydney still has typical big city problems. Like the homeless. There are homeless all around Sydney. They live on those same sidewalks where you walk with your bare, exposed feet. And you know what the homeless do on those sidewalks? They pee on them. They pee all over them. In all different directions. And then you touch the bare bottom of your foot to the pavement where that smelly dude just relieved himself. And then you track that remnant into your own home and infect everything with homeless man urine. Disgusting.
4. Dogs also pee on sidewalks. I’d rather step on dog piss than homeless piss, but I’d rather step on either dog piss or homeless piss while wearing shoes as opposed to barefoot. Also, dogs poop too. Did you drop some chocolate on your foot? No, it’s doggy diarrhea.
5. Chewing gum. It always gets on your shoes. Then you have to get ice and a stick and other random tools to pry it off your sole. If we shoe-wearing humans step on gum from time to time, you’d have to expect that barefoot “humans” would have a similar gum stepping incident ratio too. Now, if I asked any of these barefoot people on the street if I could take the chewing gum out of my mouth and stick it to their foot, they’d probably tell me “hell no” and continue walking down the street just testing their luck. I assure you my gum is way cleaner than sidewalk gum.
6. Sharp objects. Sticks and screws and bolts and trash and whatever else. These things exist even in the cleanest cities. I once stepped on a small stick and it pierced a whole straight through my flip-flop. Imagine if I had stepped on that same stick with my bare foot. Wham bam – I would have just been stabbed by debris. Wouldn’t that be an embarrassing thing to go to the hospital for?
7. You know what else is sharp? Needles are sharp. And while I haven’t seen any needles on my street, I know that somewhere in the alleyways of my neighbourhood, some juvenile delinquents are probably shooting up something. Also, they probably have hepatitis. Now, if I’m going to get hepatitis or any sort of transmittable, communicable disease, I want a damn good story to go with it – something involving a giant twink orgy or a world record circle jerk or a very lucky boy named Pierre or something like that. Not: “Oops, I stepped on a needle and got hep. Derrrrp.”
8. Odor. There must be odor. Walking around barefoot all day can only lead to incredible rankness. This rankness is amplified if it’s raining. Oh, did I mention that the rain doesn’t stop the Aussies from not wearing shoes. Anybody weird enough to walk around all day barefoot probably isn’t the type to wash their feet as soon as they get home either. So that smell sinks into the carpet and remains there for eternity and adds unnecessary foul odor to a nation which does not need it.
Even with all of this, so many Aussies go shoe-less. Now, I know that shoes are expensive here, but you can stroll down to the Kmart and pick up a pair of cheapo flip-flops for like $6. And considering those jeans you are wearing probably cost $150, I think the $6 flip-flops are well within your price range. If the homeless are wearing shoes, you should be too.
Australia needs to institute the most underappreciated yet totally necessary American rule that you see posted on the entrance to most establishments in the United States: “No shoes, No shirt, No service.” It’s a simple rule that I always thought was sort of funny. Now after spending some time in Oz, I totally see the need for it. So, for those Americans who always wondered why that sign was there and just where the heck you would find people going into restaurants without shoes on, there is a simple answer:
Only in Australia.