Sunday, September 5, 2010

Barefoot on NJ Transit

About a week and a half ago, a friend of mine posted the picture you see here on her Facebook page. Like so many other people who commented on it, my thoughts were basically as follows:

You have got to be fucking kidding me.

Bare feet? On public transit? This is not only a serious sartorial issue, but a hygienic one as well. Here goes:

First, what in the hell indicates to someone that it's okay to go barefoot on a train? This is a public place, and there were probably quite a few assholes like this guy who did the same thing. If he ends up with ringworm, athlete's foot, the clap, or whatever else might be transmitted through the floor, it's his own damned fault.

Second, it's easy to see why this is a problem from a style standpoint, and it doesn't require much in the way of expert analysis. Bare feet are appropriate when you're at the beach, the pool, or in the shower. That's pretty much it. Sure, when you're seated for extended periods of time, removing your footwear can make you more comfortable, but taking your shoes off on a plane, train, and/or automobile is only permissible under the following conditions:

1. Your feet don't stink, and
2. You're wearing socks.

I don't know if this man's feet smelled like hell, but it's plain to see that he wasn't wearing socks. Not only does this not make any sense whatsoever with his business casual outfit, but it's disrespectful to the people around you. Like many people, I neither get off on nor am particularly disgusted by feet, but seeing bare ones on full display on a NJ Transit train is fucking unseemly. Also, it's important to note that this man's feet aren't just bare; the manner in which he's crossing his legs puts them on display, as if to say "This is my world, and you people who paid the same money for your tickets as I did are just in it. I'm going to treat this car as if it were my living room, take my shoes and socks off, and get comfy. Deal with it."

Way to alpha-male everyone on the train, dude. I'm sure you're proud of yourself.


  1. Join the Taliban. Then you can tell people not to do something that is:
    1) Harmless to others
    2) And is not illegal
    Then stone them to death.
    Explain, using your ignorant mind, how the 1/4" straps on flip flops are better. You also show your ignorance of US recent cultural and social history, ignorance of biology, and you need not to live in a free country. Go to some hellhole in Afganistan or Iraq.

  2. Anonymous,
    The author writing a blog post "is:
    (1) Harmless to others
    (2) And is not illegal"

    Yet you tell him to "Go to some hellhole in Afganistan [sic] or Iraq."

    Why are you trying to tell someone else what to do? Certainly he has the right to author the blog post.

    Furthermore, the Taliban enforces their preferences with force, the author with suggestion. Please address this crucial difference if you wish to compare the author to the Taliban.

    --William B. Shuey

  3. Anonymous,

    You're right; going barefoot on a train is both harmless to others and legal, but just because an act is both harmless to others and legal doesn't preclude it from criticism. Take the theoretical example of a 35-year-old man who enjoys watching Sponge Bob Square Pants by himself when he gets home from work. Harmless to others? Yes. Illegal? No, thankfully. Exempt from criticism? Not if you think a grown man watching a kids' show is a bit ridiculous.

    Your demand that I join the Taliban and stone others to death for committing legal, harmless acts is completely irrelevant; not once in my entry did I in any way advocate violence towards this man. Nor did I say his act should be illegal.

    Next, men's flip-flop straps are generally about an inch wide, not 1/4" as you say. They are better than going barefoot because they are at least some kind of footwear worn in a public area that isn't a beach or a pool.

    Please inform me as to how my entry is indicative of my "ignorance of recent US [sic] cultural and social history."

    Finally, I'm glad that we live in a free country where you can post a comment on a blog like mine and tell me to "go to some hellhole in Afganistan [sic] or Iraq." Luckily, I'm just as free to tell you to go fuck yourself for telling me to do so.

    On that note, go fuck yourself. Anonymously.

    1. I am turned on by men's barefeet, this Is so sexy :-)

  4. hahahahahahahahah, poned. Anonymous, you're dumb.

  5. You really, really need to stop worrying about what others do.

    But, if you must interfere, please stay on the east coast. We're just fine out here with bare feet anywhere at all.

    "Bare feet = Clear conscience"

  6. Mike,

    As a barefoot runner _without_ some inexplicable, irrational chip on my shoulder, I encourage you to visit any coast you damn well please, and to keep up the good work. Who knew your free speech would be challenged on such a trifling issue!

  7. Mike, this is indeed hilarious. Let's face it, any bare foot on a jersey transit line stinks. Metaphorically speaking anyway.

  8. i am a proun barefooter. i wear shoes to work and not anywhere else. i absolutely hate shoes and socks with a passion. i love walking barefoot and showing my tough dirty soles. free your feet and free your mind.

    keep em dirty and bare,

    barefoot byron in new orleans

  9. There is a growing awareness that going barefoot is healthy for your feet and body. I'm sorry that you feel so strongly and negatively about seeing others with bare feet in public. Perhaps, if you were to look into the subject a bit, you might consider a more lenient attitude toward barefooters. That wasn't me in the photo, but it could have been.

  10. Mike is a men's wardrobe consultant. He probably feels similarly about anyone who wears something that appears to be in poor taste. Being a wardrobe consultant tends to make you very aware and opinionated regarding people's fashion choices.

    Besides, if people start going barefoot all the time, he loses the business of all those people who would normally go to him for advice about what kind of shoes they should wear with an outfit.

    Remember that he's in a business that's connected to the fashion/garment industry... an industry that loses out if people collectively decide it's time to doff their shoes and clothes. A direction many people wish to head in these days.

    I think that's the main source of his negativity, consciously or unconsciously.

  11. To Barefoot Byron, Brian, and the most recent Anonymous:

    I appreciate you guys reading my blog. I'm stoked that I'm reaching people, and I want to say thanks for reading. We'll never agree on the barefoot issue, but I'm genuinely curious about your take on this and am happy to have sparked some debate.

    To Anonymous:

    Yes, I'm an aware and opinionated wardrobe consultant, though I don't always feel similarly in regards to people who "appear to be dressed in poor taste." When I see a man in ill-fitting pants, for example, my sentiment is more "poor guy probably doesn't have a good tailor" or something like that. Occurrences like this are common and thusly don't generate such a visceral reaction from me (nor such visceral reactions from people reading this blog, either).

    If people started going barefoot all the time (and while the movement may be gaining popularity, I don't see a full-blown casting off of shoes anytime soon), that wouldn't necessarily translate to a loss of business for me. Men may end up coming to me asking which style of pants look best with bare feet.

    Long story short, my negativity didn't come from being worried about losing business. I saw what I perceived as a breach of good taste (subjective, I know) and wrote about it, plain and simple.

    Again, thanks for reading, and especially for commenting. I hope to hear from you more in the future.

  12. I would avoid going to NJ at all, and if forced to might do so wearing a Haz-mat suit. Seems like your blog post should be taken as a public safety warning if anything. Hook worm's a bitch.

  13. So many misconceptions about going barefoot! So much hostility directed at a pair of free feet! So much irrational judgment, disguised as a weird blend of health & fashion advice!

    The fellow in the picture is harming no one, especially if he has been barefoot all day long (which would mean there is no more risk of foot odor than there is a risk of hand odor).

    Actually, assuming the right to deem what is "permissible" for others reveals more of a sense of entitlement on the author's part than the gentleman who chose to ride the train barefoot.

    The author further reveals his ignorance about and bias against bare feet in public with sentences like, "If he ends up with ringworm, athlete's foot, the clap, or whatever else might be transmitted through the floor, it's his own damned fault."

    I wonder, Oh Fashion Master, if you have ever had athlete's foot? Because I haven't, and I have gone barefoot many times in places you've pronounced as off-limits to bare feet.

    I won't suggest that you join the Taliban, but I will suggest that you begin educating yourself about the benefits of going barefoot - and the dangers of over-using shoes. Or at least writing about the physical dangers posed to the feet of women in high heels, allergies to nylons, the link between neckties and glaucoma, etc.

    Being fashionable does not have to mean sacrificing good health to the sartorial gods.

  14. I understand what you are saying but i find taking my shoes off to be more comfy, i mostly ware my shoes with no socks (Thats because in a woman)but being bare foot dosent bother me, I i had socks on i wouldent take them off!


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