If you hadn’t guessed by now, we just got back from a short trip to Tennessee to visit with our friends Tara, Don, Burke & Cassidy. Melody and I had mostly great travel – a delayed flight, some uncomfortable turbulence, things you expect when traveling. It’s been a while since I flew last, and I had forgotten about the one thing I really, absolutely, without a doubt, find to be my biggest pet peeve about traveling.
It takes place before you even get on board. In fact, it takes place before you even get to the gate. It’s part of the dreaded security check.
TAKING OFF YOUR SHOES
It’s disgusting. Why is this considered sanitary? We have paper seat covers to protect us from the incredibly unlikely chance of contracting a disease from the toilet and antibacterial soap to wash our hands. There are trash cans by the bathroom doors so we can open them with a paper towel and then not litter. We sneeze into our elbows and most grocery stores offer handiwipes so you don’t have to touch other people’s cooties left behind on the shopping cart. We are an extremely germ-phobic society.
Yet thousands of people every day walk bare- or sock-footed across the marble and tile floors of airports across America and no one has raised a question about it. I realize the TSA wants to be sure my 3 year old isn’t going to light her Dora the Explorer shoes on fire and they are just doing their job, but seriously? First off, a three year old, an infirm granny in a wheelchair and a terrorist all face the same conditions – though at least I was able to carry my toddler and the granny can ride in her wheelchair without touching the floor with her feet.
We risk athlete’s foot, hoof and mouth disease, and plantar warts, just to name a few, by walking bare footed across the 10-20 feet of hard marble or tile that is a haven for germs at the airport, not to mention exposure to some of the most foul odors that can cling to a person’s feet. Nothing like the smell of a sweaty athletic sock to force you into wakefulness at 6 a.m!
Are we in fact safer for the removal and scanning of our shoes? Since Richard Reid did his dastardly deed several years ago, has anyone been caught with firecrackers in their shoes? Isn’t there a better way to do this?
Just the thought of taking off my shoes to traipse across other people’s fungus and bacteria laden footprints is a huge deterrant to me traveling again any time soon. At the risk of sounding absurd, when I travel again, I will likely bring wipes and clean socks to change into once I reach the gate.