As I just replied here
today I was informed by my Logistics Manager that I could no longer wear my VFFs on shows for work, but in our warehouse it was fine. I have been wearing them at this job for 9 months now without any problems. Tomorrow I plan on going back to him to discuss the matter further and attempt to regain my comfort.
I think I already have a strong case against it, but any insight from other forum members would be welcome.
First, some background to my work environment: I work in a warehouse with a cement floor. We have thousands of pieces of heavy(90+lb lights, 70+lb aluminum truss, 80/160lb steel plates for mounting pipe, etc.) gear, most of which lives in cases like these:
. I drive a forklift and carry coils of cable upwards of 60 lb. All of this seems like a terrible place to wear VFFs and yet I've been doing so for months. About once every 2-3 months I roll a case over a pinky toe ever so slightly, mostly only grabbing the rubber of the shoe. It hurts for no more than 5 minutes. I am still permitted to wear my VFFs doing this although I have to be in "uniform" which is black pants or shorts, a black logo'd T-shirt or collared shirt and black or brown shoes.
The other side of the job I take that gear to shows and we have to set it up. This includes be in random locations, sometimes with carpet, sometimes on grass. Sometimes indoors in an air-conditioned room, other times in the heat of the sun and forcibly in pants. Setting up, we work in pairs/teams and a helping hand is always within ear-shot. Uniform: black pants, black logo'd collared shirt, black or brown shoes.
Having worn VFFs exclusively for the last 10 months, my feet are much stronger than they were before my transition. My toes are larger, more flexible and resilient to harm. Most often when people say negative comments about them, I put my toes on top of their shoe and press down with only my toes until it hurts their foot. They then respect how much stronger my foot is compared to theirs. I feel I can jump higher in them than with a heavier "real" shoe and I can move my feet out of harms way faster. As most other VFF wearers, I am also much more aware of my surroundings and what is on the ground than I was in larger shoes.
Now, I am under the impression that I have had 2 complaints against my wearing them. The first as I was told directly by my Project Manager(PM) Gary that he did not like me working under him with them on for "safety" concerns. The second was my off-handed comment to a coworker that was overheard by a different PM about my not wanting to go outside because it was raining and I didn't want to get wet.
My arguments against for being able to continue wearing them are as follows, and I would like anyone's insight and help to fight this prejudice against toe shoes:
Regarding the water thing - I had a bad selection of VFFs that day. My all-leather pair would have faired fine, and if they wish it, I can make that my only pair I wear to work.
The "safety" concern is dropping things on my feet/toes. This comes from Gary who last year dropped an 80Lb base on his foot and broke toes. He was wearing "real" shoes and it still broke them. Nothing short of steel toe safety shoes will prevent that, and unless all employees are to wear safety toe shoes, I shouldn't have to change my footwear either.
They look "unprofessional"/client's might think they're weird looking. On the contrary - many times I have been curiously questioned about them and why I wear them. Often these conversations lead to the person asking where they can get a pair. Never - not once - have I been told my shoes are ugly or that someone doesn't like them.
We the minimalist/toe shoe wearing community need to not only wear our shoes proudly, but know everything about why
we wear them and be able to fight back against those who don't like them. You can have a hundred people tell you they're cool and they admire you're bravery for wearing such funny looking shoes, but it only takes one prejudice jerk to take it all away from you.