In the midst of one of my terrible Tuesdays, I stopped by my office to drop off some things. After feeding the meter, I was taking a few books out of the trunk. All of a sudden I heard a voice from behind me.
Rude woman: That is not possible! You cannot wear those!
(Claire twisting and turning trying to figure out what the hell is going on. Claire finally spots rude woman. Rude Woman looks very cross and has a hair color that violates the laws of nature. (Seriously, someone told middle-age German women that it was okay to dye their hair fire engine red. I wish that person would shut up.))
I turned to the woman. "Excuse me?"
Rude woman: Those shoes! You cannot wear those! It is illegal to wear those shoes while driving!!
I would like to point out that the woman was yelling across a parking lot and practically spit the words at me. She walked away shaking her head and in a very angry state. From her demeanor, you would think that I had just sprayed "666" on the church wall across the street. This incident left me completely breathless and speechless. Difficult to imagine, I know.
This woman is a perfect example of what I like to call "German-ness." I have addressed this before. Germans are very direct in their opinions. Someone told me that they are just being "honest" (which is much better than superficial Americans). I think it is RUDE! Even if my shoes are "illegal" it is completely inappropriate to yell at a stranger across the parking lot as if they have just had committed a crime against humanity. Dude, NOBODY ASKED YOU! What are you, the Assimilation Police? Are you with the Shoe Gestapo? I don't yell at you about your terrible dye job.
Things like this happen a lot. One woman stopped me to tell me that my clothes were inappropriate (I was in a skirt and it was chilly that day), and a neighbor was almost nose to nose to me and said, "You are too pale. You look sick. Are you sick?" "No, ma'am, I am sorry that my natural skin tone offends you." Come to think of it, only German women seem to say these things to me.
Anyway, I was angry about this woman for hours after this incident. Unfortunately, when things like this happen, I can never think of anything clever to say. I wish I could have stopped her, gotten her phone number and then called her later with a good retort.
After my dressing down, I walked into my office building and asked Media Man if it is true. Are my shoes illegal? Media Man shrugged. My business partner, the New Yorker (who is a very well shod woman herself), laughed, looked down, and shook her head yes.
Would you like to see my illegal shoes?
They look pretty harmless right? Apparently it is illegal to drive in them because if you had to break quickly you may slip out of them and get into an accident. I brought this up to my English students later in the afternoon. They agreed that the woman's behavior was inappropriate, but sadly my shoes are still illegal.
I posed a question: if I was doing the speed limit and following all of the rules of the road and a drunk driver ran a red light and hit me, what would happen. "Claire, it is not good to drive drunk, but you would still get into trouble." This says a lot about the German mind-set.
I came home and took a good look at my shoes. I am still trying to figure out the shoe rules. Is the slide the problem? Is it because they are open toe? Heels are not okay? Can I drive barefoot? Questions, Questions . . .
This pair may be illegal. Although there is a strap and they do not slide off, the heel maybe to high and they are open toe.
This pair is close toe, but has a high heel.
This pair may be okay, but I wear them in winter and not in the summer.
I really do not understand why they sell these shoes, if you cannot drive with them on. What do German women do? And why, why, has my brother-in-law, who is a police office, never said anything? Seriously, he has watched me get out of a car a dozen times in shoes like this. Not a word was mentioned. I just spoke to the German about this, and he has never heard of this rule, but we will call my brother-in-law.
From now on I will put this pair under the seat of my car. Better to be safe than sorry. Also, if another woman yells at me, I am going to shake my shoes at her!!