Day 21 – Feetgear

6 Oct

The weather is getting cold and this means I’m going to have to start wearing socks and shoes again. You have no idea what a burden they are until you’re allowed to go four straight months without them. Allow me to explain.

Relatively speaking, socks and shoes are uncomfortable and unnatural. Our humanoid ancestors never had them. I bet you dollars to doughnuts that shoes have been around for less than 1000 years and socks considerably less. Have you heard about those ultra-long-distance runners from Mexico? The reason they can run so long is because they run barefoot (i.e. without shoes). Unfortunately the dangers of the urban environment require that most humans wear something to isolate their feet from the ground. And it goes without saying the negatives of wearing black socks and shoes in the Ottawa summer. I walk about a kilometre (plus the bus) to get to and from work on any given day.

I have one pair of flip flops that I have worn almost every day since June 3. I would normally not wear them to work but I was on French training from June 6 until September 15 and the dress code was pretty relaxed. The only time I wore shoes during that period was when I was helping people move – about 8 times (was a busy moving summer).

My Feet

There is a very low overhead with having flip-flops as your primary form of footgear. Socks and shoes are a whole different ballgame. There’s a lot more work involved. Let’s start with the laundry.

Say you do your laundry once a week and you have 10 pairs of socks to sort and fold. If you’re like me you have many similar kinds of socks that are from different generations (i.e. they were bought at different times). On laundry day I turn into an archeologist closely examining the degree of fading to try and properly match up the pairs. This takes me between 2-4 minutes. Now if one does laundry at a longer interval – say, once every two weeks – all of a sudden you have 20 pairs of socks to sort. This takes even longer and it’s not a liner extrapolation. Full disclosure: I pre-sort my laundry by type of clothing (socks/underwear, pants/towels, shirts) before the wash. It saves having to do it after.

By wearing flip-flops (or any footgear that does not require socks) your existing sock supply will last longer (through reduced usage they don’t wear out as fast) and in the long run you spend less money because you need less of them. And while we are on the subject of cost, a decent pair of flip-flops are about one third to one quarter the cost of an equivalent pair of shoes.

Now back to shoes. My footgear routine over the summer was this –

  • On – 08:20 – leave the house
  • Off – 08:30 – arrive at school (we had a nice carpeted classroom)
  • On – 12:00 – go for lunch
  • Off – 13:00 – back in class
  • On – 16:30 – finish school
  • Off – 17:30 – home to cook supper
  • On – 19:00 – movie, friends, whatever
  • Off – 23:00 – back home

This is a low estimate. There were two fifteen-minute breaks at school and some evenings I would be visiting friends’ houses, have a quick trip to the grocery store, stuff like that. And I think this is similar to the habits of most office workers. My colleague John in French class never had his shoes on. And why would he? If you know you’re going to be sitting in a chair for two hours I think most people would take theirs off. Do a quick check around your work, I think you will find the same thing.

Now let’s use the following metric for shoes vs flip-flops (note – this is for shoes requiring socks and these are averages)

  • Shoes on = 40 seconds
  • Shoes off = 20 seconds
  • Flip-flops on = 5 seconds
  • Flip-flops off = 5 seconds

I think these estimates are reasonable. With shoes, one has to sit down or bend over and either lace them up or pull them on with you hand. Plus if you are carrying something you need to put that down and pick it up again. There is also the putting on of socks (usually only once per day – I think?). All of this adds to the time cost.

So we have four “on” per day and four “off” (conservative estimate). That’s

  • 240 seconds a day for shoes / socks
  • 40 seconds a day for flip-flops

So between June 4 and today Oct 6 that’s a 124 days where I’ve saved about 200 seconds per day for a total of 413 minutes or almost 7 hours. If you add on 3 minutes a week for laundry we are up over 7.5 hours (the standard GoC workday).

And don’t forget the financial savings – with increased flip-flop use, socks and shoes last longer, flip-flops are cheaper, and the laundry costs are less.

Anyway, all this is trivial – if you really want to save time, go number two during working hours and not on your own time. 10 minutes a day over the whole year (230 workdays) is more than 38 hours – an extra week of vacation. Still, I hate shoes, I’m going to be in flip-flops until it starts snowing.

7 Responses to “Day 21 – Feetgear”

  1. Trixie October 6, 2011 at 14:07 #

    I wholeheartedly agree with you on the socks. They are so claustrophobic. I switched from sandals to socks and shoes last Saturday. It’s so sad!

    I’m loving your blog! It’s fun and you’re doing a great job.

    I do have a question for you. Have you set a daily budget for the next 3 months, an overall budget, or do you not care?

    • Die Hard Three October 6, 2011 at 15:40 #

      I’m glad you’re enjoying the blog. 🙂 I don’t have a budget exactly but I am trying to reduce my expenditures compared to Ottawa. It’s tough with so many things do to here.

  2. Jason Chapman (@jasonAchapman) October 6, 2011 at 14:19 #

    Your ability to stay on topic, even when the labelling of this as a topic at all is tenuous, is impressive. Thinking this through to this level of detail is either a recipe for invention or a quietly waving flag for the surrender of your sanity.

    • Lottabot October 6, 2011 at 14:31 #

      I think it’s a rare form of autism he has…

      • Die Hard Three October 6, 2011 at 15:19 #

        The Doctors call it Hidastaa Autism.

      • Uncle Ross October 11, 2011 at 00:38 #

        Its not so rare… have you met Blayne?

  3. Lottabot October 6, 2011 at 17:47 #

    That’s the best kind!

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