Because I'm a germaphobe who washes my hands thoroughly and often, avoids touching subway poles, and doesn't share drinks, it's surprising that I never considered that walking around on New York City streets in flip flops could be hazardous to my health.
When a couple of friends told me that city walking in open shoes disgusts them, I panicked. Have I been overlooking a primary source of germs? Have I contracted some sort of contagious disease because of my negligence? Is it germier to wear flip flops in NYC than upstate?
Obviously, I do a lot more walking in New York City than I do upstate, so there are many more occasions to pick up whatever sort of diseases you get from foot exposure. But considering that a short-lived TV show on the Food Network starring Ted from Queer Eye for the Straight Guy proved that a typical office watercooler has more germs than a Central Park water fountain, I was still feeling pretty good about my flip flop wearing.
Five minutes ago, I googled "wearing flip flops in NYC" and discovered an article from the Daily News entitled: "Flip Flops are a Magnet for Dangerous, Deadly Bacteria." Great. Just what I needed. The article states that 93% of shoes worn for three months have fecal bacteria, which is true for any type of shoe in any location. However, a pair of flip flops worn around the city for four days contained staphylococci, Aerococcus viridans, Rothia mucilaginosa, and Staph aureus. Whatever that means. Now, this is not to say that a pair of flip flops worn upstate wouldn't have the same nastiness, but some of those germs come from saliva on the street, and I can't say that stepping over drooling, dozing, doped up folk is a regular occurrence in the Finger Lakes area.
So what's a germaphomic suburban girl to do? Well, I've always lived in a shoes-off household, and I will continue to do so. And I keep a box of baby wipes handy to wipe the dirt off my feet. (I learned that trick from Radio City, where performers often have to wipe off their shoes because of nervous animal actors.) But I just can't abandon my flip flops and sandals. I can't. I like being comfortable. I like wiggling my toes. I like judging my tan by the two pale lines left on my feet. More importantly, I live on the fifth floor and my windowsills are constantly covered in a fine layer of black soot and dirt. If the filth makes it that high, wearing closed shoes wouldn't be an effective barrier; it certainly must be coating my entire body, right?
Enough typing. I must shower. STAT.