A recurring nearby event came along in early 2016, a "home show" that's
basically a trade show for the local home-improvement industry with
exhibits from quite a few contractors and suppliers.
I had been to several of these, both before and after a major
renovation on my own place, and always took away some fresh ideas.
The hall where it is held is a big place, and shuffling around in the
usual china-flats for that long is decidedly annoying so I figured
I'd at least ask the show management about attending barefoot.
They were a little hard to track down, but I eventually found the right
people to ask and they seemed reasonably receptive rather than
returning the usual immediate stodgy stonewall I'd expect.
It involved two policymaking entities; the hall management said they'd
check with the show company officials and come up with a decision.
Not only did they collectively decide in the negative, they went out of their way to print up a bunch of bright red signs saying "shoes required" and plastered them all over the entrance doors to the place. As though someone raising the question needed that kind of direct slap in the face? My innocent query evidently scared the crap out of someone in their organizations, even after I pointed out how well maintained I'd always found their hall floors and nobody should have any concerns over some trumped-up "liability" situation one way or the other. I attended anyway, with shoes on, but stopped in at the show-management booth on the way out to ask about the situation again and try to state my case, and was treated rudely and unprofessionally and essentially kicked out simply for asking.
Afterward I called the American Home Show management, which puts on these events all over the country and was apparently behind this nonsense, and was assured that their C-level people would return my call to discuss further. That was a total falsehood, because they never did. Later that week I searched up some relevant addresses and sent this off to their management/administrative personnel, who I figured would be their most instrumental decision makers going forward.
To: Carol Bulzomi <email@example.com>, Craig Gitlitz <firstname.lastname@example.org> Cc: Sheila Bissett <email@example.com> Subject: A plea for fairness Hello, I'm the guy who contacted you last week about bare feet, specifically with regard to attending shows and being in various venues without shoes. With no followup emerging from your side so far, I've decided to try and follow up on it from here. I'm also assuming I'm reaching the same "Carol" that I spoke with last week from your operations department -- if not, please forward this to her. I completely understand what we discussed about safety and setup/teardown of show-floor environments -- I work plenty of production gigs myself and am well aware of the hazards. But during open public show hours, none of that applies and attendees really should be allowed the freedom of various personal lifestyle choices -- hair styles, clothing within applicable legal guidelines, expressions of religious or ethnic or interest-group affiliation, and footwear or lack thereof. There is no difference among these things. As I mentioned you don't require all visitors to wear gloves, so why shoes? Let me assure you, the *hands* of the general public will carry many more pathogens than their feet, and those same hands are exchanging greeting with exhibitors, touching your food facilities, visiting the bathrooms ... to put things in perspective, especially when we're in the middle of flu season in the Northeast. As I look around a well-maintained space like a typical convention hall or even the Shriners facility in Wilmington, I see nothing representing an obvious safety hazard that would dictate any need to be shod or have any other sort of PPE at those times. Please visit barefooters.org and related websites and research this for yourselves. There are myriad benefits from going barefoot, very little safety risk, and NO applicable health or safety laws, codes, or statutes in any state regarding public places, food establishments, or driving. All of these things are myths brought on by some unfounded social stigmas developed over years of misinformation. Someone choosing to not wear shoes should receive the same treatment as anybody else walking into your shows with a bright blue mowhak, nose piercings, or full hijab. Would you deny entrance to any such individuals on that basis? I submit that making a distinction about bare feet boils down to simple discrimination, and any "safety" implications you might counteroffer are purely the responsibility of the individual. Your responsibility is to make sure the building doesn't burn down, the show flows smoothly, parking is orderly, etc -- nothing about bare feet would affect that in the slightest, or create any sort of liability risk for yourselves. As someone largely barefoot since 1980 or thereabouts in all seasons, please be assured that I can handle my own situation and anyone else with similar preferences can as well. I have attended several of the Home Shows at the Shriners hall, and have even contracted with at least one exhibitor who's usually there and asked numerous good questions of others. I enjoy them. I learn things, and I teach other people things. I do not appreciate being harassed by uninformed staff over irrelevancies, regardless of who they work for, about a simple personal choice that has no bearing on the success of the show. I appreciate even less being rudely asked to *leave*, simply for raising the question, as your representative "Jackie" did to me at the recent Wilmington event. [I had already toured the floor so it wasn't an actual impediment to my intentions at the time, but what if I had wanted to go back in to talk to more vendors?? Not the kind of "professionalism" you want your staff showing the general public, I'm sure.] Also please remember that results of conversations like this can end up in very public places on the internet, so consider the public-relations angles of any decisions that come from this. The home-improvement and energy-efficiency industries have many progressive and forward-thinking aspects that I personally enjoy keeping track of, and I believe it would be to the *benefit* of ACS and the venues they work with to set their public events forth as "barefoot-friendly" and thus present themselves as similarly progressive and well-informed to discerning attendees, especially around the relatively liberal Boston area. Far better than to be viewed as an organization that discriminates at all, regardless of location. Thank you for your serious consideration.
So American Consumer Shows (Syosset, NY) gets F for community-mindedness, and I'm not sure whether their direct and downright rude infringement on the rights of Americans in every city they tour puts them on the "permanent avoid" list or the "needs more work" list. If they run shows in your area, the question is well worth posing to them again so they see the same thing coming at them from all quarters. Maybe they'll finally get an inkling.
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