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No Shoes Please

For the most part visiting a Canadian or American home is pretty much the same experience on both sides of the border. However, I have always been puzzled by one main difference. When visiting a Canadian home it is common to remove one’s shoes and leave them by the front door before entering. Some people even come with indoor shoes to change into.

When I go to visit my friends and family back home in the USA, the shoes stay on. I would be looked at strangely if I stopped, sat down and started to take off my shoes. Nor would you be asked to remove your shoes. Asking a guest to take off their shoes would be like asking someone to remove their pants.

I remember growing up in Canada and taking off my shoes when going over to friends’ houses. I figured it was more a kid thing. I can see asking kids to take off their shoes after playing outside. Children have a tendency to attract dirt. Yet, the act of removing one’s shoes doesn’t end at the age of majority. I have been to many adult gatherings where you are greeted by a line of shoes at the front door entrance. And it isn’t just confined to friends and family. Service people and salespeople have also been seen taking off shoes before they enter a private residence.

This custom is followed in many countries, especially Asian and European countries. There are even some in America that make this a rule. Some do it to preserve carpeting and hardwood floors. Some do it for health reasons. I believe I once heard Dr. Oz suggest it. But then he has an unusual attachment to fiber too.

Personally, I don’t really care. I’m polite and like to respect people; must be the Canadian rubbing off on me. When back home I usually keep my shoes on unless I’m staying overnight. Then I kick off the shoes and make myself comfortable. Back in Canada, if asked to remove my shoes, I take them off with a smile, no questions asked. I’m just happy to be invited to someone’s home and to be able to share some great times-shoes or no shoes. I just remember to wear a clean pair of socks, just in case.

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