So I got on the elevator Friday morning with two other people who work somewhere in our building. A young woman in her 20’s and an man who looked to be late thirties, none of us knowing one another. We pressed the buttons for our floors and in a few seconds the door closed and we were all on our way to our respective offices. You know how it gets in a quiet elevator, especially in the morning — we all look down at the floor of the elevator, occasionally glancing to watch the upward progress on the digital readout. As I looked at the carpet pattern to discern any hidden meanings, I couldn’t help notice that my fellow passengers both had on rubber flip-flops. You know, the kind most of us used to wear to the beach or in the high school shower.
The woman’s toes looked like they’d been manicured at some time earlier in history and the bright red lacquer had begun to show signs of wear, tear and great neglect. Luckily, the guy’s toes and feet, despite similarities to the legendary BigFoot, did not throw off an odor one would associate with such a wild beast. However, the guy raised his feet one at a time and appeared to adjust the fit of each flip-flop by tapping the wall. Perhaps he was trying to get us to notice the crew cut style of his toe hair.
There seems to be a kind of double standard when it comes to displaying feet in the office. Women have long been allowed to show off their nicely manicured toes in the office space. I suppose if you spend that much money on a fancy pedicure you certainly don’t want to keep this investment hidden. Men, on the other hand, normally aren’t real big about toe grooming – metrosexuality aside. Thus, should anyone – man or woman – have to put up with having male toes in their line of sight while trying to conduct business? (And don’t get me started on mandals.)
While flip-flops may have become a kind of semi-sanctioned summer apparel for office environments over the last few years, there are plenty of us that don’t appreciate the beach boy attire. I’m not the only one who feels flip-flops are meant for somewhere other than the office: “ . . .as casual Fridays became casual Monday-through-Friday, some think they’re living in a Corona commercial and keep showing up to work with bacteria factories strapped to their feet . . .”—-from askmen.com
“ a foot in a flip-flop might as well be naked and naked feet don’t belong anywhere near an office . . . summer months bring the urge to go thwackety-thwack into the salt mines . . .” – Washington Post staff writer
Most agencies like Mobium are quite liberal in their office attire policies – after all how can you really develop strong creative ideas wearing leather shoes and socks? My Mom, may she rest in peace, used to go crazy seeing women wearing tennis shoes with their nice office attire. It took her a while for her to understand that they just wore them to and from the office and put on something more appropriate while they were at work. I guess I get just as looney about these cheap flip-flops “thwacking” around the office. It ranks up there with annoying gum snapping.
However, if someone had a strong rationale for how flip-flops are appropriate for the office environment, I suppose I could be convinced to do a flip-flop of my position on this critical issue.