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Shoes: to remove or not to remove?

Posted Jun 17 2008 12:00am
Ever since coming back to Minnesota, I've been reminded of the differences in Florida and Minnesota when it comes to wearing shoes in the house.

Then, this morning, there was a special on just this topic on ABC News. Check it out here .

I remember when we visited Minnesota in March before we moved there. As we visited various apartments to tour possible places to live, we were repeatedly instructed to remove our shoes. Some places even provided booties that we could put on over our shoes.

Then we moved to Minnesota, and I quickly found out that wearing shoes in homes was a majorly rude thing to do. It was a given. When you walked into someone's house, you removed your shoes. During big parties, there could be dozens and dozens of pairs of shoes piled by the front door. I would always make sure to be prepared to remove my shoes. Very dirty or holey socks weren't ideal, and sometimes I would even bring an extra pair of socks to slip on after removing my shoes.

JB and I quickly fell into this practice. When friends from out-of-state would come and visit us and not remove their shoes as they stomped through my living room, even after I repeatedly reminded them, I have to admit, I got bothered. I found shoes in the house quite gross after just a few months living in Minnesota. We had an absolute zero tolerance for shoes in our living room or bedrooms where we had carpet. This stretched as far to plummers or cable guys who without asking would slip off their shoes or slip on booties over the top of their shoes. It also stretched as far to one of us forgetting something in the house. Have to go back in for something? Take your shoes off at the door.

In Florida, when I go to a friends' house and I remove my shoes, I have had people actually say to me, "You don't have to take off your shoes." JB and I will look around and realize we are the only ones in bare feet in the entire place. I quickly became confused! Leave them on? Take them off? I don't know?

Returning to Minnesota this week, I have to remind myself of the policy here and remove my shoes before hitting the carpet. It is not a thoughtless process for me anymore. It no longer feels natural.

Getting a dog has loosened me up about shoes in the house. And, quite honestly, I realized I had to quickly give up my desire to keep my home in Florida shoe-free. People looked at me like I was quite odd when I asked them to remove their shoes during our first few weeks here, and if I were to ask a maintenance man to remove his boots, I think he would have left without doing the work.

The spot on Good Morning America said that it is considered a little tacky to ask guests to remove shoes and that all over the U.S. it is considered normal to wear your shoes in the house. So my question is this: is Minnesota the only place this is common? I don't remember having to remove my shoes in Illinois when I visit family. Is this unique to the Polar North?
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