The Custom of Removing Your Shoes in Hawaii and Bureaucracy

removing your shoes

Removing your shoes is customary before entering a home in Hawaii.

Removing your shoes all the time is sort of odd but I’m sure I’ll get used to it. Most people in Hawaii do not wear shoes in the house. When you are allowed entry into a person’s home, whether guest or family, removing your shoes is expected. Everybody does it. The guy who fixes the AC motor a second a time, he takes off his shoes. A neighbor who stops by slips out of her shoes. Even Realtors remove their shoes. You don’t ask whether it makes any sense, you just do it. It’s the way things are, and it’s OK. Personally, I think you should carry your own gecko transporter with you wherever you go because that would be a nice thing to do for your neighbors.

However, in our home, I prefer to wear sandals. There are benefits. The first that comes to mind is just how easy is it to squash a bug by stomping on it. Everyday I spot some sort of crawly thing that I squish. I don’t think that is cruel to do. I am not at that point where I can step on a bug with my bare foot. Which reminds me of a story David Sedaris shared in his diaries about his younger years. He admitted to dropping a wasp into a jar. Then he dropped in a dead bee, which the wasp promptly ate. Just as the wasp was patting its fat little belly, all happy and content, Sedaris poured Canada Dry and Comet cleanser into the jar. He watched the wasp suffer a slow and painful death. He tortured it.

In some ways, I find that confession very disturbing. I can’t believe he admitted it, either, but then we’ve all done things when we were young and stupid and high on meth, I suppose. In other ways, I find it comforting because I’ve never done anything like that. He makes me feel good about myself. Never tortured any living thing, not insects nor boyfriends I was finished with. The worst thing I ever did was spray a snake with a water hose so it would move off my sidewalk.

Wearing sandals inside the house also cushions your feet, which makes it easy on your back. When you get older, you care about things like this. My sandals are thick and ergonomically altered to enhance the feeling. They are Vionic. If you’ve never tried a pair, it takes a little bit of getting used to but they are the most comfortable pair I’ve ever owned. And they’re cute, too.

I pondered the shoe-wearing reasons as I paced my lanai chatting with a seller about lead-based paint. Under appraisal review by the underwriter, a few paint chips were called out to be painted. The home was built prior to 1978, so under FHA guidelines, there can be no chipping paint. I reminded the seller of that when I performed my visual inspection but he does not recall. Instead, he said he had a report from he bought the house that said it was free from lead-based paint and he wanted to send to the underwriter and argue against painting the eaves.

He’s barking up the wrong tree. I can see where he’s coming from, but I also know how bureaucracy works. Hey, I used to sell short sales, remember? I shared the story about why a silk orchid I had ordered delivered to our vacation home from Overstock was held up. Hawaii agriculture needed to examine it. Really? There was nothing on the box or the shipping label that identified the contents as an orchid. The state of Hawaii held my silk orchid for 4 days to make sure it was not a real plant.

I advised my seller not to fight this. It’s important to choose battles. You can be right as rain and still get screwed. Just paint the eaves. You don’t want to apply for a variation from HUD nor argue with the underwriter. Those actions will simply delay closing for a much longer period of time and you still won’t win.

And when you come to visit me in Hawaii, you’ll be removing your shoes.

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