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.