Finally! Vindicated by an "official" source

Those who know me know I’m a full-time barefooter. I haven’t worn shoes in 20 years.

When I got my current job 8 months ago, I was told I had to wear antistatic sandals within the facilities, because we’re an company that makes static-sensitive electronic products. I promised I would to get the job, but of course I ain’t doing it - like I do every time I get a new job in a new company.

My boss “tolerates” me barefoot in the office because my main argument, which is that I’m more electrically grounded when I’m barefoot than when I wear antistatic shoes, is technically correct. Still, he regularly bugs me because wearing antistatic shoes is mandatory, for the simple reason that there’s no provision in the standard for barefoot employees.

Today, the ISO-9001 auditor came around for the yearly assessment of the company. I completely forgot about that, and I ran into him and my boss as I was going to the lab. My boss made a disapproving face, and I made a “oh shit!” face when I realized who it was. I tried to turn around and make myself scarce as discreetly as possible, but… too late. The guy hailed me and asked me:

“Hey, you’re barefoot!”
“Er… yeah” I said “Sorry, I shouldn’t be, I know…”
“Well, you’re not supposed to, that’s for damn sure. But if anybody isn’t going to zap static-sensitve components, it’s you eh?” with a huge grin on his face.
" Er… right" - starting to get really embarrassed in front of my boss now. “Look I’m sorry, I know I should wear sandals. I’ll wear them from now on. Promise!”
“Oh, screw that.” he said. “Stay exactly as you are, it’s safe for the products and that’s all I care about.”

Wow, an intelligent ISO auditor… That’s something I haven’t seen in years! Usually they’re sticklers for the rules as they’re written exactly. But this one actually used common sense. Best side effect: my boss has nothing against me no more - not that he was very pushy about it to begin with, mind you :slight_smile:

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Awesome, I can’t pull off the barefoot thing I go with minimalist shoes. Anyway barefoot for antistatic makes perfect sense. We had to use foot straps at my last two jobs, I always understood it is because the rubber of your soles insulates from the ground and the strap grounds you. Never thought of barefoot but I’m sure here OSHA would have something against it.

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I don’t know your particular circumstances, but have you tried it?

Unless it’s specifically forbidden in the dress code (directly or indirectly), I found out a long time ago that all it takes is to just show up without shoes and wait for remarks. And then play “oops, I forgot” long enough until people stop complaining and leave you be.

Of course, it works better in small companies than in larger ones. But the largest company I’ve worked for that left me in peace had 960 employees. So it’s doable.

Also, the earlier in your employment you show up without shoes, the better. Ideally on your first day, so everybody knows you’re “that guy” from the get-go.

I’m pretty sure if I had had a foot accident anywhere I worked in any country I’ve lived in, the issue would have come up, and major annoyance would have ensued with the insurance companies. But it hasn’t happened yet (fingers crossed) and I’ll take my chances.

In any case, if worse comes to worst, at the end of the day, the onus is on your employer that let you be barefoot when they shouldn’t’ve. But if you value and respect your employer like I do, it’s not a situation you want to put them in. In fact, I wrote my last employer a signed waiver clearing them of any responsibility for that exact situation, because I didn’t want to bring them trouble over this.

Here’s your compromise

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I work in a hospital, and Lana days it best.

tenor (27)

The chances of stepping on something sharp or pointy covered in bio-nastiness are higher in a hospital than in most other places I guess, especially if you work “backstage”. It makes sense for medical professionals, just as much as it makes sense to wear safety shoes when I work in a metal workshop. So I take it it’s a formal requirement where you work?

I’ve never been turned away from a hospital as a patient though. That must be because I’m pretty sure doctors can’t refuse someone treatment unless there’s a really compelling reason.

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danger-zone

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Oh for sure. There is no way, that I am aware of, staff would be allowed to be barefoot. Maybe if you had your own office and could shut your door.

  1. The culture of the place. It would not fit the image we need to present.

  2. Sharps and biohazards. Some drugs we give patients are radioactive. So there is that aspect, and we have to dress up even more.

Yes they HAVE to see you. They are not required to treat you, unless it is life threatening. (My best understanding at least, not my area)

@Rosco, interested to know your reason(s) for going barefoot?

An enlightened doctor advised me to give it a try.

Back then, I weighed 265 lbs, I was in a lot of pain with my knee prosthesis and I was popping pills like no tomorrow. I had a bad case of opioid addiction 15 years before it started to hit the news. Early adopter, ya know :slight_smile:

Anyway, I had just moved, and I went see a local doctor because I was running out of painkillers. The guy was some kind of chiropractor, or osteopath or something, besides being a GP. He looked at me and told me:

“I know what your problem is: it’s your shoes.”
“Uuh? What do you mean?”
“Your shoes are stressing your knees. When you don’t have knee problems, it’s fine. But in your case, it’s too much stress. Take them off and you’ll see it’ll get better.”
“What? You mean like all the time?” I said, a bit flabbergasted “You gotta be joking me!”
“Well, try it for 3 days. Worse that can happen is, it won’t do anything for you and you’ll look like an idiot for 3 days. But I think you’ll be surprised. In any case, I ain’t prescribing you painkillers. You’re taking far too many.”

I figured, hell why not. So I kicked off the shoes. Lo and behold, after 12 hours, the pain had started to subside. First time in years! So I simply kept at it.

Fast forward to today, I dropped 120 lbs, stopped smoking, started cycling again, and most of my knee pains have gone. It’s always teetering on the edge of being painful, but it’s completely manageable with ibuprofene, most of the time. But if I put shoes on, it comes back in a hurry.

And of course, after all these years, I’ve gotten used to it: it feels good to feel the ground when you walk, and never be sweaty or smelly. In any case, my feet have become so much wider that I’d have trouble finding shoes wide enough to fit them. The best I can manage is a pair of oversized snow boots when the temperature drops below -15C and I have to tread on snow for more than 5 minutes.

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wow! that’s incredibly interesting. it’s cool to know there’s a reason to do that besides “connecting with the earth” and that sort of thing.
do you have high arches? i do and feel like even trying to go barefoot would be impossible. my legs hurt after only a day of activity in flat-soled shoes (like convrse)

I don’t have high arches, but they’ve gone higher as my foot musculature built up.

Do you have support inserts for your high arches? If so, you might want to gradually try barefooting on a regular basis. Most arch problems stem from poor plantar muscles - usually exacerbated by artificial support devices - and that tends to correct itself when you walk barefoot.

Walking is a kinematic chain that involves everything from your toes to your back, and I’m not at all surprised your legs hurt if your feet haven’t been hitting the ground naturally for a long time. Same as me with my knee.

And no, I’m not really a connected-to-nature, yoga-practising sort of guy. I sympathize with that kind of approach, but I personally go barefoot for entirely practical reasons.

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ddb282fbf268d850984d655121f1d0ee

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I hear you. Growing up I was about 5 ft tall and 210lb I had flat feet and could barely walk or stand more than 30min at a time without extream pain. I tried arch supports and it made no differance. Finally went to an orthopedic surgeon he decided surgery was the way to go in 9th grade I had my first operation, they broke my foot in two places and lengthened my achilles tendon. Next year did the same to my other foot and put in a bone graph. After recovery I had arches… and weak ankles and pain. Years passed, finally I looked into going barefoot and thought about trying it knew I couldn’t go barefoot at work so I tried xero shoes very flexable and I think 2mm of sole. Getting rid of the arch ‘support’ has helped immensely its crazy the differance it makes I used to twist my ankles all the time now instead of my fooot rolling and hurting my ankle when I step on a rock or something my foot flexes instead. Oh and the reason I can’t go full barefoot is I’m too accident prone. Went outside to grill the other day (barefoot) and stepped right on a hot coal.

Interesting stuff. I did wonder if it was for medical/practical purposes or an at-one-with-nature kinda thing.
I’m the opposite I guess, I’ve had a couple of back surgeries and flat or no shoes really plays it up. I’m not saying I’m into high heels either :grimacing:
I’d imagine your feet get pretty tough over time and can deal with most sharp pointy things on the ground, and without being confined they breath. No foot fungus and alike :nauseated_face:
As a consequence of course you’ve biohacked your feet to become a more powerful swimmer. I wonder if it’s in any of the swimming coaching manuals :thinking:
I know previously you said you’re northern Finland. Not sure if that’s quite arctic circle territory but I’d imagine that could be quite challenging in the winter for your feet. Perhaps even dangerous.

I used to wear Vibram five finger toe shoes. They look very strange, but I found them very comfortable. It basically removes all of the support you have in shoes and leaves you with a bit more padding on the ground. The only thing is you have to get used to your toes being seperated inside the shoe, so you can’t wear it with socks.

I’m 60 miles below the arctic circle.

Naah :slight_smile:

It’s just a matter of time vs temperature. At -15C, I can stay out 2 or 3 minutes. -20C, 2 minutes max. In the video, it wasn’t all that cold, so I could spend quite some time getting the snow off the car without ill effect.

That’s because you don’t do it enough. Step on nasty things or stub your toe a few times and you’ll quickly learn to watch where you’re going :slight_smile:

I’m walking around in Leguanos most of the time - completely flat shoes with a very thin, very flexible sole. Had some pain in my feet from time to time, so I went to a orthopaedic specialist - she just said I should wear stupid inlays in my shoes for the rest of my life… tried it out (wore classic dr. martens at that time), foot pain gone, back pain there. Damn.
Then I stumbled on all that barefoot-thing, and decided to try those shoes out (completely barefoot is not okay at my work, so I needed some sort of compromise) - aaaaand, foot pain gone, back pain gone. Occasionally, when going out, I wear pretty high heels, but the rest of the time I’m really happy with my “barefoot”-shoes^^

I’m temped to try the paleos Rosco mentioned somewhere, what barefoot shoes do you use (paleos are pricey).