Sanepid shoes

I’m slapping myself that I’ve not yet made a single post about those wonderful sanepid shoes! Well that’s what I call them but I’m referring to those amazing plastic condoms you have to slip over your shoes whenever you visit somewhere “hygienic”. How could anything be more Polish than sanepid shoes! Glory be, how could I have neglected them for so long?

In the shot below, my wife and I model the light blue variety. They also come in green but we’re told green is out this autumn.

These particular examples were purchased in the National Ballet School earlier today. We wanted to go upstairs to collect Zosia from her lesson but were not allowed without the shoe condoms. And before anyone gets on my case about the pretentiousness of that statement, we were told by someone who should know that we ‘simply must’ get Zosia some lessons at this school and so we did! Anyway – purchased? I hear you cry. Yes, you very often have to purchase them even though they are usually pre-owned. I think once, in a hospital, I have found a machine that dispenses a new pair in exchange for a coin but the rest of the time the game is that you buy them, use them, drop them in a basket and the old lady then sells them to someone else. Nice work if you can get it! This recycling does raise a few issues though.

  • Many of the condoms are dirtier than my shoes but I suppose at least the dirt is their dirt and not mine.
  • Many of the condoms have holes in them. This provides a possible route of migration for streptococcus killerdoccus from my shoes to the premises. Perhaps bacteria are not that smart?
  • If the previous user’s shoes had been infected with say, rabies, would the fact that I am now wearing them not allow the rabies to enter my shoes and then later to my car and home?

Of course you are at liberty to trouser the condoms and carry them around with you just in case you are ever faced with a surprise shoe condom zone but not many people do that. These blue ones cost us 1 zloty for 2 pairs.

Hospitals and other medical facilities are the main places you will encounter the condoms but they do crop up at the most unexpected venues – ballet schools obviously, also our daughter’s playschool although at last count only about 50% of parents were complying. I seem to remember even having to wear them in the museum of modern art way back when, or was I dreaming?

I suppose this is all the work of sanepid, the local sanitary inspectorate, who have dictated that shoes, just like overcoats, are hotbeds of killer bacteria and need to be “contained” in sensitive areas. No doubt there is a three week intensive course available on shoe condom husbandry after which you are awarded your own rubber stamp, shoe condom starter kit and a three month subscription to ‘Shoe Condom Monthly’ magazine.

Being vice-president of shoe condoms in any establishment is one of those wonderful “jobs for life” that are hard to find elsewhere. You just sit there and people have no choice but to give you money. Another such job is to be a “notary public”, the people you go to to prove that you are who you say you are. Mind you, their job is very serious because it involves many pieces of paper and a lot of rubber stamps.

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10 thoughts on “Sanepid shoes

  1. Robert says:

    One of the best scatts! – I believe we all wonder in amazement about these pesky things. We dutifully would leave a couple of pairs in the car boot assuming we would have them when needed – always forget them however and the collection mushrooms. I hate them as they remind me as throwbacks to the old ‘kommuch’ times.

    They do come in handy however – if you have a tile floor they can be great for seeing how far you can slide with a running start.

    I think we should corner the market and print them with Polandian logos and develop line extensions for use other than the ‘obvious’ places like hospitals and of course dance schools – the possibilities are endless. We could make dress models in black or brown and even some from my design studio ‘Chez Robert’ that will be certainly the rage for the ‘VIPs’ and wannabes.

  2. adthelad says:

    Ok – so a bit of a throw back – but I for one find the tradition quite quaint. When you think of Britsh streets and Polish streets then you know all you need to know about the attitude to rubbish, cleanliness and public responsibility. In Poland the house owner is reesponsible for the pavement in front of his hoose, shop etc. In the UK it’s something you pay to have done – after all its below you to keep your surroundings cean and tidy.

    I remember a program on TV where an English chap (he who works as a fireman and doubles as the UK rep. in ‘Europa da się lubić’) had not been long in Poland and was asked what he found strange here. One of his remarks was that he couldn’t get his head round the fact that everyone took their shoes off when visiting friends, family etc.
    Naturally if you live in a country where there are few metalled roads and where there are industrial ammounts of dirt carried in from the streets, the salt, the mud, etc then you are likely to be a bit more sensitive to your precious parket flooring being muddied, scratched etc. Never mind having to clean it all the time.
    And so it is with foot condoms. When you think of the autumn, spring and winter months here, think of all the cats and dogs doing their business then you start to appreciate the ammount of additional cleaning that would be required in hospitals, schools etc if not for the shoe condom.

    So there! :)) Oh and I like Robert’s idea but remember to make sure they’re bio degradable or recyclable.

  3. scatts says:

    Wouldn’t a “hoose” be Scottish? :-)

  4. island1 says:

    Are there any other photos of you wearing tight-fitting plastic or rubber garments around the house that you’d like to share with us?

  5. Crpk says:

    Hey, this is not Polish idea. It came to us “from the west”. Anyway I’m in Iceland now and have to say that plastic shoes are omnipresent in this country. Every school, hospital, nursing home or swimming pool. And there is no possibility to buy a new pair. You can just find it in a basket a need to put it back when leaving.

    Oh, and you should know what is all that for. It should not protect anyone or anything from bacteria – it simply keeps floor clean. Just sand, dust and mud. Pretty much simple.

  6. Michael Farris says:

    The have big felt versions of these in some museums to keep visitors from scratching the floors. Those are kind of cool, they look like giant slippers and encourage a sliding gait (polishing the floors even more!).

    The plastic things are just vile and make anyone wearing them feel/look like an idiot.

  7. scatts says:

    island – none that we can share without getting a ‘mature’ rating!

    Crpk – is Iceland still there, I thought it sank?

    Michael – yes, the felt versions, that’s probably what I was thinking about with the museums.

  8. Anonymous says:

    I wish here in the UK they would introduce those condoms, or some form of shoe-changing in the swimming pool locker rooms. There is black dirt on the bottom of the pool. It looks dodgy.

  9. Richardlith says:

    Anonymous, they have introduced these condoms in my local pool in Edinburgh, Scotland. This must have been in response to requests from the Poles living in area.

  10. Crpk says:

    Hahaha, Richardlith! ;)

    scatts, not yet sank but it is sinking… in debt.

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