This is one of those blog posts that I don't like to write.
Tonight I went into my local Target store to buy a couple of sippy cups for our two-year old daughter. I, of course, went barefooted because I'd been in there several times before without incident while unshod. Unfortunately, this trip did not end the same way.
As I walked back up the main aisle to the front after choosing some cups, I was stopped by an assistant manager named, ironically, Michael and a security guard who accompanied him. Michael courteously informed me that I would not be able to continue shopping in bare feet.
I asked him why, and he responded that it's a "safety issue." I asked him to clarify that. He told me that he couldn't risk me possibly stepping on something if they didn't clean up their floors well enough. I carefully said to him that he probably needs to do a better job cleaning up his floors, then. He brushed that comment aside. I then shared that I understand that I take on any liability if something were to happen, but he still said that he can't allow me to take that risk.
I told him that I've been in that store several times AND been seen by other employees and nothing was ever said. I brought up that nothing is posted at the entrances prohibiting bare feet. I even mentioned a time that an employee specifically gave me a heads up because of a broken light bulb that had been cleaned up the night before. She wanted me to be aware that something might still be in the area. That said, everything ended up being fine. He was apologetic but stood firm that I could not shop barefooted.
I asked him if I could just go check out and he allowed it.
As we walked toward the front -- security dude still in tow -- I calmly informed Michael that I prefer to go barefooted for the comfort and health benefits. He shared that he thought that's "totally awesome," but that they've had that policy for "a long time." I shared my disappointment and he was very understanding.
Later, after checking out, I went to find him again. I told him that Target needs to post something at the entrances if they're going to have such a policy. I told him that I don't go barefooted into places that have signs posted but that I never thought it would be a problem at his store. He said that he'd speak to the store manager about it.
I can't explain how disappointed I am about what happened. Besides second-guessing what I said and what good points I forgot to bring up, I'm upset that I've touted Target so much as a barefoot-friendly place and now they're not. At least mine isn't.
I think that, at a minimum, I'm going to write a letter to the store manager. I really would like to go back and speak to him/her in person. After further thought -- and reminding from a fellow barefooter -- I need to question why it's okay for a barefooted service animal to be in the store but I can't be. I need to ask why it'd be okay for me to walk around barefooted as I try on clothes or shoes but the rest of the store is off limits. I should ask if I need to wear gloves to protect myself from potentially sharp displays and products or to avoid getting germs from merchandise that who-knows-how-many people have touched.
I welcome your comments or suggestions.