June 17, 2012
> This evening my husband and I were asked to remove our shoes before entering our hosts’ home. To add insult to injury, the hostess put on flip-flops. Is it rude to refuse to remove one’s shoes?
B.E. / Framingham
Asking your guests not to track pesticide, lawn fertilizer, puddle bacteria, and other toxins across the floor is not "terribly bad form." It is a sanitary custom common in other cultures. My kids crawl on that floor and then rub their hands on their mouths or eyes. Couch cushions go back and forth between the floor and next to my face. I have a bench for guests to sit on to remove their shoes, and no one has ever complained.
Now, I have a somewhat unusual situation in that one of my children has special needs including an immune disorder...but many people in this world have immune disorders or allergies and may not want to explain to every guest. I don't value my *floor* over my guests; I value my kids' health!
I'll just finish up with a little story from a while back. A guest took off his shoes, and as he was doing so, he laughed and said, "good thing you reminded me to do that. I stepped on a dead possum yesterday."
For some cultures, it is considered rude not to remove one's shoes in the house. Slippers get provided. I feel strange when i DON"T take off my shoes in someone's house - seems like I am dirtying the house. I don't think the hostess meant to be insulting!
I feel it is a respectful gesture. I know I would not want someone to come into my place with shoes that might have dirt on them.
Especially if they have come from the subway or buses, where it is not exactly clean. Better yet,bring your indoor shoes
to wear if you feel uncomfortable.
I am amazed that this person was "insulted" when asked to remove her shoes in someone's home. It is courteous in many cultures to remove shoes before entering a home - Sweden, Lithuania, China, Japan for just a few. Also today Faroosh indicated (online cleaning hints)that 85% of dirt comes in through the door on our shoes. Who knows what we have brought home on the bottom of our shoes. In China, even the gas man/repairmen/deliverymen slip on booties or slip off their shoes before entering a home! Guests and family always remove their shoes unless invited by the host to keep them on. House slippers are usually offered to guests and family have their own slippers at the door.
What is the floors were just refinished? What if the guest had on stilettos which can leave a nice hole in some floors? What if someone in the house is ill or has an allergy/autoimmune disease?
Yes, it is the host's responsibility to supply some kind of slipper and a place to sit and change. But to call it personal and equate it to removing one's clothing????
It would be polite to ask the host if he/she would like you to remove your shoes before entering.
yes - it is rude - as others have noted, in some cultures shoes are NOT worn in the house - they are left at the door. Ms Insulted needs to get a chill pill.
I can see that few people know that not everyone can walk without shoes. I am one of those. I have to wear shoes that allow me to walk without pain, as I had foot surgery inside my foot (nerve) and will never be able to walk barefoot or in typical slippers.
It is the responsibility of the hosts, therefore, to inquire BEFORE the visit if the person is able to walk in slippers or barefoot. And, if not, to bring shoes that are only worn inside a house.
I would have to stay outside of that host's house because, as I say, I can't walk barefoot or in normal slippers. You could say that I am disabled, in a way. I can't help it.
(There are people with neuropathy, also, from diabetes. I seriously doubt that they could remove their shoes.)
Guests should honor a host/hostess' desire for the guests to remove shoes. This may be a cultural Growing up, we always removed outdoor shoes and put on slippers worn only inside the home. I ask guests to remove shoes, but I do provide a basket of a variety of socks, slippers, etc.