Soiling Other People’s Wear

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Most Japanese houses and businesses have special slippers to wear in the bathroom. In the strictest locations, one leaves their outside shoes at the entry hall and puts on slippers inside; and, upon reaching the sill of the bathroom, switches to a different kind of slippers. Just for clarification: bathroom here means ‘toilet’, since we don’t combine the waste process with the cleaning process.

To complicate things further, most regular workers at public schools are allowed to buy normal footwear for use inside the school. The only limitation here is that the shoes should have never been worn outside. A lot of the male workers prefer slippers similar to what American college ball players wear to the showers.

One day at a particular school, I entered the bathroom, slipped off my shoes, jumped into a pair of slippers in front of me, and scurried to the one stall which I found to be occupied. While waiting for the facilities, it struck me that I was wearing the school slippers of whomever was squatting inside.

I slinked out hoping not to be found out. Unfortunately, the door has a significant gap at the bottom, I chose to stand very close to the door, and (worst of all) – not realizing how the latch worked – I had rattled the door forcibly a few times. Nobody ever said anything, but I think I was the only male in the office when the teacher finished his business. Perhaps his silence is for self-protection; admitting his shoes were soiled might require him buying new ones.

I felt sheepish about this for months. I hope he doesn’t read my blog.

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3 Responses to “Soiling Other People’s Wear”

  1. verbivore Says:

    I can’t help laughing a little here – isn’t this exactly the kind of situation we get into as expats all the time.

  2. Stefanie Says:

    Oops! Sorry, I had to laugh. The poor guy. Would he be able to wash his slippers and then they would be okay again?

  3. びっくり Says:

    Funny that this got posted last night. Today we had a fire drill at school. When there is a fire drill, we all go out to the muddy school yard wearing our inside shoes. On the way back inside we wipe them off on wet rags. I don’t think the shoes get that clean. Also, the halls in the schools aren’t so clean either. Sometimes it all seems a little silly.

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