Q17: What can I say to passers-by or others if they make a comment?
Although most of us would prefer that it not be this way, we must acknowledge that going barefoot in public is very unusual. Most people we encounter or pass by have probably never seen anyone – especially any adult – out walking barefoot in a public place. So it’s just human nature that they are going to look, perhaps do a double-take. It doesn’t mean they are viewing this negatively by any means. Just means they see something they aren’t used to seeing.
They also are probably quite curious about it, and though the vast majority of people will say nothing, occasionally we will get a comment or a question from a passer-by. Most of the time when this happens, the comment or question is simply friendly curiosity; rarely it might be a sarcastic remark or a even a negative rebuke.
In any case, the important thing to remember is that our response will reflect on the image of barefooters. If we are promoting barefoot acceptance, our personal responses and interactions with the public need to be positive.
There may be occasions when the best response is no response and to simply ignore the remark; but most of the time it is best to be respectful and straightforward. A sarcastic answer to a sarcastic question? Not recommended. But friendly humor will sometimes offset any initial negativity. No complicated excuse or reasons for doing what we do are ever necessary. Keeping responses simple and friendly are usually the best way to go.
There was a very good example of a simple, straightforward, yet friendly response in one episode (“The Garments of Rage”) of the very popular 1970s TV show, Kung Fu. The main character, Caine, always went barefoot, and this time he was questioned about it.
Railroad Investigator: “Do you always go barefoot?”
Railroad Investigator: “Why?”
Caine: “I do not like shoes.”