Note from Tania: my little sister Sharleen wrote this story and asked me to post it here. Enjoy!
I wish I had gone to one of the public schools that allow students to go barefoot to school. Actually, I almost transferred to one, but for a number of reasons we finally decided against it. So what's a barefoot girl to do? Well, try to go sans shoes at school as often as possible which I did, and this time I got to do it in the principal's office.
One Saturday morning I went out shopping at the mall with my mom and little brother Kevin. As usual I was barefoot. Yeah, in the beginning mom didn't approve of me and my sister going barefoot in public places but she finally gave in and now she's ok with it.
As we were walking around in the mall we ran into my school principal Mrs. Scott (not her real name). We were both surprised to see each other. I was expecting her to say something about my lack of footwear, but to my surprise (and delight), she didn't. Apparently she didn't think anything of it. After all this is Hawaii, right? Quite a few people especially kids go out and about in their bare feet.
Before going our separate ways she asked me if I would like to take a picture with her. I said "sure." So mom took our picture and it turned out really nice. I was wearing a light purple polo shirt and white shorts, and my bare feet were in full view. Mrs. Scott was wearing a long dark blue dress. The colorful tropical flowers in the background made it picture perfect.
I was really surprised when I went into Mrs. Scotts's office about a week later and saw that picture hanging on the wall. I said, "wow, Mrs. Scott, you have our picture on the wall!" "Yep," she replied. "I really love it! You look so natural just like an island girl with the beautiful flowers in the background."
There were other pictures on the wall of her with a bunch of students together, but there was none with just one particular student. So I felt kinda special.
Anyway, a couple of weeks later Mrs. Scott asked me to help her with a special project which required me to spend about an hour or so with her in her office every Friday after school for a few weeks. So the first day I was sitting in there working I thought to myself, wouldn't it be nice if I could be barefoot? Wonder if she would let me. Well, let's find out!
So I went over to her and asked, "Mrs. Scott, uh...is it ok if I take my shoes off? I would feel more relaxed and be able to get things done quicker." That last part was actually bs which I felt I needed to throw in to help convince her :)
She was a little hesitant but finally said, "Um...well...ok, go ahead!"
I was like "yes!" (but didn't vocalize it though). So I sat down and took my shoes off. Since I wasn't wearing socks, I was immediately barefoot. Mrs. Scott noticed that and said, "Oh, your not wearing socks!" What? Did she think I was wearing socks and was expecting me to keep them on instead of being barefoot?
"Um...no," I replied thinking to myself, sh1t! I hope she won't tell me to put my shoes back on, and I certainly hope she won't smell anything (after all I had been wearing shoes all day at school) for that would be a major embarrassment.
"Well...that's ok. Just put your shoes under the table over there and put them back on before you leave."
Phew! So there I was still in full uniform including the tie but with nothing on my feet. Oh, and my feet didn't smell that bad for I was wearing a different pair of shoes every day.
As you probably know, your feet tend to stink more if you don't wear socks, but I hate wearing socks because it's a hassle and I don't like the feeling of my feet being wrapped. I prefer the freedom of being barefoot inside my shoes. Besides, I love to show my ankle bracelets.
That's why mom bought me 3 pairs of shoes so I could alternate them but still, at the end of the day my feet would smell a little. Yeah, just a little, and that's a small price to pay for freedom, comfort, and looking cool! :)
Then Mrs. Scott said this. "But hey...don't tell everyone at school that you were barefoot in my office."
"Why, Mrs. Scott?" I asked.
"Well, because the rule says you must wear shoes at all times while on school grounds. I would have a lot of explaining to do to my staff should they find out that I let you go barefoot in my office. Heck, I have had a hard enough time responding to people's comments about our picture over there."
"Wow, really?" I said.
"Yeah, because people would see the picture and ask 'is that Sharleen?' I tell them 'yeah,' and their like 'how come she is barefoot?' and I'm like, 'I don't know, that was taken at the mall, not here at school!' and their like, 'oh!'"
I laughed thinking that was funny.
So I was working at the computer desk when suddenly there was a knock on the door. I felt my heart skip a beat. What if that was a teacher or school staff? Well, I would just stay put right there and hopefully they wouldn't see my feet. But Mrs. Scott calmly said, "come in!" The door opened and there was Mario from the sanitation department coming to clean the office.
I breathed a sigh of relief but still felt a bit uneasy because Mario would eventually see me barefoot as he worked his way around the office. But judging from Mrs. Scott's attitude, it seemed everything was pretty cool.
"Hi Mario!" I waived at him and smiled. "Hi miss Sharleen!" he replied. Yeah, just about everyone at school knew me by name. How do you like that?
I had to walk around the office doing different things while Mario was there and at one point he glanced at my bare feet but said nothing. After he left, I asked Mrs. Scott, "Mario definitely saw me barefoot in here, is that ok?"
"Oh, don't worry about him. He doesn't talk much," she said. Hmm, cool!
When it was time to leave I grabbed my shoes and sat in the chair. I looked at my soles, and they were slightly dirty from walking around in the office. So I rubbed them against each other to get some of the dirt off before putting my shoes on again. I thanked Mrs. Scott for letting me go sans shoes in her office. She reminded me not to tell people about it.
From then on, every time I arrived in her office on Friday afternoon I immediately took my shoes off without even saying anything and she was cool with it. Mario always came while I was there barefoot and he never said a word about it. Well, until ...
One Friday afternoon I walked over to Mrs. Scott's desk to show her my work. I calmly sat in the chair in front of her expecting her to tell me I did a good job. So you can imagine how shocked I was when she yelled at me instead.
"Aw Sharleen! I've told you I didn't want you to do it this way! You weren't listening to me, you just wanna do your own thing!" I was a little shaken as that was the first time she ever scolded me.
"Oops, I'm so sorry Mrs. Scott, I forgot but I can fix it easily." I said nervously.
"Well, hurry up then! I'm tired, I wanna get outta here!" she yelled again. Wow, she surely was in a rotten mood.
"Ok, ok..." I said scurrying back to the computer.
As I was sitting Mario looked at me and smiled. I giggled softly feeling a bit embarrassed. Then the unexpected happened. He came to sweep the floor under my desk, and out of the blue he said, "No shoes, miss Sharleen?"
I was already a bit jittery to begin with and his question just caught me off guard. "Huh?! Oh...uh...yeah...my feet were hurting so I took off my shoes," I said (of course, I lied :p) with a smile trying to act calm.
He just chuckled and without saying a word continued sweeping. I was puzzled, wtf was he thinking? He had seen me barefoot in there several times, so why did he just ask me about it that day? Maybe he thought striking up a conversation with me would help me relax? Well, with THAT question the effect was quite the opposite but whatever!
Anyway, I fixed everything and Mrs. Scott was satisfied. As I was leaving she apologized for screaming at me earlier, she said it had just been a long day. I told her it was ok, it was my mistake, and wished her a wonderful weekend.
The following Friday mom was coming to pick me and my sister up at school for we were going shopping. So while waiting for mom I chatted with Mrs. Scott. She asked me if I always went barefoot outside of school and I told her most of the time. Otherwise, I just wore flip flops. I only wore shoes to school.
She said she kinda envied me. She wished she had grown up in Hawaii where many kids go barefoot, but now it was too late. Although some adults also go barefoot in public, she wouldn't want to get caught doing it now that she was a school principal and everything.
My phone rang, and it was mom telling me that she was already in the parking lot. Suddenly I had a crazy idea, and so I said to the principal, "Mrs. Scott, my mom's already out there waiting for me. Can I just carry my shoes and walk barefoot to the parking lot?"
She gave me a stern look and wagged her finger saying, "Nice try kiddo! You know the rule. Now put your shoes on!" I just giggled and said "ok" and put them on. I was still giggling as I said goodbye and walked out the door, and Mrs. Scott was shaking her head. Oh well, I tried :)
But I had nothing to complain about though, because after all she gave me a pass to go barefoot in her office, granted it was at the end of the day when most people had left, and there was no one who would knock at her door except Mario. That was huge and I consider it another victory for me in going barefoot at school (read about my previous experience).
So was that another one of those "magical" instances that Tania often talked about? Well, you be the judge :)
Aloha, and have a magical day!
Credit: Photographer - Jorah Mormont