Dear Annie: "Clean Shoes in Wisconsin" objected to his sister-in-law asking him to remove his shoes in her house. Yikes. Outdoor shoes in the house? The University of Houston did a study and found that 39 percent of shoes contained the bacteria C. diff. In Japan, as well as in many Asian and Scandinavian countries, shoes are removed. It would be a kindness, as you suggested, to provide slippers at the door. Guests could also bring their own. — Maria in New Mexico
Dear Maria: We had a mountain of responses to this letter. Several readers directed us to the study you mention, and another by the University of Arizona. Both tested people's shoes and discovered nine different species of bacteria, many of which can cause infections in our stomachs, eyes and lungs. The studies found that bacteria live longer on our shoes than on anything else, and in most cases, the bacteria was transferred to both tile floors and especially carpeting. There are more bacteria on shoes than on toilet seats, including E coli. This is especially dangerous for children under the age of 2, because they play on the floor and frequently put their hands in their mouths. Here's more:
Dear Annie: The host is responsible for making guests feel welcome and comfortable. Many people have health conditions that make walking in stockings or soft-soled slippers unsafe. Such things as diabetes, neuropathy, planter fasciitis and balance issues require that shoes be worn at all times. If the hosts care more about their floors than their guests, they should not entertain in their homes. — J.
Dear Annie: Who does this person think he is to decide that he can walk around someone else's house with his shoes on? No one has perfectly clean shoes unless they have just taken them out of the box from the shoe store. Your word choice of "detritus" was very polite. Street shoes have everything from dog poop to dead bugs on them. Who on earth wants that on their floors? Not me.
Dear Annie: People who care more about their house than their guests are cold, materialistic, uncaring and a few other things you wouldn't print. What happens when someone spills red wine on the white carpet? Will that person need to be escorted out? Where does it stop? — E.
Dear Annie: We also live in a snowy part of America, so dirt, mud, snow and road salt get tracked in all the time. Most everyone takes off their shoes in others' homes. (The elderly and disabled are exempt.) "Clean" could buy an extra pair of comfortable slippers or loafers and keep them at his sister-in-law's house, or better yet, buy some crazy socks that will be a conversation starter and fun! — Feel Better
Dear Annie: The sister-in-law could easily provide a box of shoe covers for her guests. That would be a win-win solution. — Sara in Ohio
Dear Annie: This reminded me of a Christmas party held at my bosses' home. I bought a special outfit and the perfect shoes, only to be asked at the door to remove them. I was wearing 3-inch heels and when I took them off, my white wool slacks dragged all over the place. What made it worse was that they owned two dogs and a cat. It's been 10 years and it still bugs me. — Hairy Pants In Pennsylvania
Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to [email protected], or write to: Annie's Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254. You can also find Annie on Facebook at Facebook.com/AskAnnies. To find out more about Annie's Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.