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Urban Compass Calgary

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Keep your shoes on, Calgary

Klaszus argues that we don't need to take our footwear off each time we enter a home

Shoes on carpet?! That's right. It's dry. We mostly walk on pavement and concrete. Let it go.

Tony the Tiger / Wikimedia Commons

Shoes on carpet?! That's right. It's dry. We mostly walk on pavement and concrete. Let it go.

Leave your shoes on, Calgary.

That's right. Step on in.

As a city that has been formed through significant American influence, let’s embrace what large swaths of the U.S. figured out long ago: when it’s dry outside, there’s no need to remove your boots every single time you step inside.

It’s annoying and unnecessary.

Going into an American home is refreshing. Traffic moves freely at the doorway. It’s like cruising a free-flowing highway instead of having to stop at a toll booth.

The transition between inside and outside is seamless.

There’s an aesthetic benefit, too. Boots and shoes look damn good, and are often chosen to complement a particular outfit.

Sock feet, in comparison, usually look silly.

Go to an American party, and you see everyone with their outfits fully intact. They’re happier and more confident, because they’ve got their good shoes on.

At Canadian parties, we sacrifice this comfort and confidence in the name of niceness. We heap our shoes at the door and are forever searching for them at the end of the night, as traffic backs up behind us like Deerfoot Trail at rush hour.

Then we awkwardly bump into each other and awkwardly tie our laces while standing on one leg. “Oh, sorry,” we say as we tip over into the pile of shoes, knocking several people down with us. “Sorry about that.”

Enough already.

The good news is we’re not beyond hope. The frequency of the following exchange in our city is a positive sign.

“Don’t worry about your shoes,” says the host.

“You sure?” replies the guest hesitantly.

“Ach, yes, of course,” insists the host with a dismissive wave of the hand.

This exchange usually takes place when someone is coming into a house for a brief period of time, but it’s a start.

Even so, I’ve had people tell me to leave my shoes on like this, and still I kick them off.

I prefer to keep them on, but it still feels wrong, like I’m giving offense to the host somehow. It becomes a battle of Canadian niceness vs. Canadian niceness.

It’s time for us to get past this and change our silly social custom, so that like Americans, we can all wear our shoes inside without feeling guilty.

At the very least, we should have a robust public debate on the merits of being shoeless or shod.

Winter calls for its own set of rules. It only makes sense to spare our floors—and the floors of others—from the ravages of snowy, salty muck.

But if it’s a dry, blue-sky day?

Keep those boots on, my friend. Come on in. Don’t worry about it.

Changing our custom will mean parting company with shoe-shedding nations including Sweden, Japan and Denmark, but we’ll always remember the good times we had together in our sock feet.

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