You wouldn't think a simple shoe would cause such a kerfuffle. Well, unless you live in Japan in which case your shoes may well dictate a worrying proprtion of your life.
It's famous that you have to take your shoes off when you go into someone's house in Japan. Contrary to popular Japanese belief, this is not unique, is it, really? I can't have been the only child who was told that under no circumstances should I wear my shoes on the living room carpet under pain of death. Well, maybe not death, but definitely something bad was supposed to happen. So, in our house, we always took our shoes off in the hall (and then got yelled at for leaving them in the middle of the floor, where someone could break their neck, but I digress), much like in Japan, only without the need to balance like a tightrope walker to avoid your feet, shock!, touching the floor where you've left you shoes, which is, technically, outside(A Japanese genkan has a very large step up, and you have to leave your shoes on the "outside" portion at the bottom of the step, and step up into the house with your "clean" feet).
Now, I think I might have complained about this bizarre balancing act before. I get that it's cleaner and nicer and better for the flooring and less likely to irritate whoever cleans said flooring in your house to take your shoes off on the way into the house. I just feel like the "ahhhhhhhhh my shoes touched the indoor of my hosue, we're all going to catch that illness that lurks on the soles of our shoes and DIEEEEEEEEEEEE!" reaction that people seem to have is slightly over the top. I mean, calm down dears, it's a mere graze of a shoe, not a biological attack.
At the gym, they're even pickier. Not only do I have to take my outdoor shoes off at the designated place (complete with large sign, with pictures), and lock them in a shoe locker, I also have to make sure that my indoor shoes don't touch the fake, plastic tatami in the locker room, because that's bad, apparently. I wouldn't mind as much, but some the of staff have filthy shoes on, clearly not observing their own rules, and basically confirming to me that said shoe based rules are ridiculous and only the annoying people with nothing better to do care about them.
All of this taking the shoes on and off gets, unsurprisingly, more than a bit irritating, especially if you ahve to keep tieing and untieing your shoe laces. Which explains why Japanese people just don't seem to. Tie their shoe laces anyway. They just slip them on and off, like I used to do when I was a kid and in a big hurry to get to the ice cream van or whatever. Except, whenever I tried to squeeze my feet into my shoes like that, I used to get told off, because I was always told,"You're going to break those shoes and you're not getting another pair. I'm not made of money." Now I buy my own shoes, I get it. I get it to the point where it's really starting to bother me, seeing people ruin their shoes to avoid imaginary germs. OK, not imaginary germs, but not killer ones either.
If only I had the guts to march into my gym, outdoor shoes on and ignore all the signs, just to see what would happen.