I was standing on a sidewalk on Court Street in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Carroll Gardens. Court Street is the busiest commercial street in the neighborhood. I saw a man walking down Court. He was wearing a tank top that may have fit him at some time in the past and shorts. The gentleman was clearly not homeless and did not appear to be disturbed in any way. Why would I make a point of noting that he was an ordinary schlub? I reveal that now: The man wore no footwear. He was walking down a dirty sidewalk in New York City with no shoes, sandels, or even socks. (For the recored, the man did not appear to be Rex Ryan.)

What in the world is going on?

Nicholas A. Ferrell

My previously having dated myself suffices to reveal that I have lived in New York City for some time. Even the relatively nice areas of New York City that I frequent have their fair share of derangement. I am often disgusted by things in New York City, but not often surprised. This seemingly ordinary dude walking down New York City sidewalks in his bare feet was both genuinely surprising and more than a little bit disconcerting. It would have been troubling even if the sidewalk had just been cleaned by the philosophical man-with-the-hose.

Openclipart image of a man sleeping in his bed with his bare feet sticking out from his blanket.
I suppose one advantage of walking around NYC barefoot is that it removes one step from the getting ready process in the morning. This is a public domain image from Open Clip Art.

I also made a point of noting that the gentleman seemed ordinary but for the extraordinary fact that he was braving New York City sidewalks in his bare feet because later in my walk, on a rougher stretch of Court Street near Borough Hall, I saw another shoeless and sockless gentleman. This gentleman, however, also lacked a shirt and appeared to be under the influence of alcohol or some controlled substance or another. If someone had told me “I saw a man walking around New York City bare foot” – I would have pictured the second guy. The first guy was surprising.

(Aside – why did the first guy also have an ankle bracelet? Why would you draw attention to your bizarre pasttime?)

Far be it from me to give advice to people who think that it is wise to walk around New York City in their bare feet. They are beyond help. But I will offer one piece of advice anyway. Stay far away from the outdoor dining sheds.