Ryerson Alumni - Winter 2018 - 32

ALUMNI DIARY

LIFE STORY

Barefoot in Oz
Jessica Wynne Lockhart makes
herself at home Down Under

Jessica Wynne
Lockhart,
Journalism '08,
sheds her shoes.

Forlornly, I stared across the departures lounge. My bladder was full and
the restroom was mere steps away. There
was just one problem.
I looked back down at my feet. Could I do
it? Could I really walk into a public bathroom barefoot?
A traveller by trade-I work as a freelance
journalist-I long ago vowed that I would
32

Ryerson University Magazine / Winter 2018

be sensitive to the culture of my host countries. It hasn't always been easy; my career
has taken me everywhere from Finnish Lapland to the jungles of Guyana.
Two years ago, when I moved to Sydney, Australia, I figured adjusting would
be a breeze. After all, as anyone who has
ever been to Whistler (arguably home to
Australia's largest diaspora) will insist,

"Australians are just like us."
Except I discovered that's not exactly true.
Australians carbonate shiraz. They make
a mean cup of coffee, but are stumped by
nachos (cheese would be a good start). Their
politicians attend campaign events in "budgie smugglers" (even Trudeau couldn't get
away with that). Worst of all, they print
everything on A4 paper.
Yet, I took all this in stride. No, what broke
me wasn't even the snakes or the spiders-
it was the fact that Australians seemingly
hate wearing shoes.
Now, let me clarify: I'm not talking about
the surfers who live beachside. What I'm
talking about is the businessmen who pop
into corner stores downtown loafer-less, the
millennials in my inner-city neighbourhood
who can't be bothered to put on flip-flops
for brunch, and the entire families shopping
barefoot in the grocery store.
Safety aside (I once witnessed customers
in a liquor store tiptoeing awkwardly around
a smashed wine bottle), I just find the practice kind of gross.
It wasn't until I was on a Toronto Star
travel assignment last year that I realized
I was doing exactly the thing I'd pledged
not to. My attitude was ethnocentric. As the
saying goes, you can't knock it until you've
tried it.
The next morning, I strode out my hotel
room barefoot, checked out, boarded a bus,
and went through airport security. Nobody
said anything, not even about my absurdly
long toe hair.
Surprisingly, I enjoyed it. It was glorious
being liberated from the tyranny of shoes.
That was, until I had to go pee.
"Would an Australian use a public toilet barefoot?" I asked my tour guide. She
laughed, but nodded.
I cringed, but knew what I had to do. I
inhaled sharply and bravely did what no
Canadian has done before.
Unfortunately, the social experiment
ground to a halt when we landed in Melbourne. "You can't walk across the tarmac
barefoot," said the flight attendant. I didn't
bother arguing that I had done that very
thing only three hours earlier.
"Being told to put on shoes is so un-Australian, I almost want to write an official
complaint," said my tour guide, hugging
me. "I'm proud of you."
I want to say that the experiment made me
feel more Australian. But the truth is, the
only thing it made me feel was a burning
urge to wash my feet.

PHOTOGRAPH KEILIE STOKES

Do you have a story to tell? Contact ryemag@ryerson.ca



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Ryerson Alumni - Winter 2018

Table of Contents
Ryerson Alumni - Winter 2018 - Cover1
Ryerson Alumni - Winter 2018 - Cover2
Ryerson Alumni - Winter 2018 - Table of Contents
Ryerson Alumni - Winter 2018 - 2
Ryerson Alumni - Winter 2018 - 3
Ryerson Alumni - Winter 2018 - 4
Ryerson Alumni - Winter 2018 - 5
Ryerson Alumni - Winter 2018 - 6
Ryerson Alumni - Winter 2018 - 7
Ryerson Alumni - Winter 2018 - 8
Ryerson Alumni - Winter 2018 - 9
Ryerson Alumni - Winter 2018 - 10
Ryerson Alumni - Winter 2018 - 11
Ryerson Alumni - Winter 2018 - 12
Ryerson Alumni - Winter 2018 - 13
Ryerson Alumni - Winter 2018 - 14
Ryerson Alumni - Winter 2018 - 15
Ryerson Alumni - Winter 2018 - 16
Ryerson Alumni - Winter 2018 - 17
Ryerson Alumni - Winter 2018 - 18
Ryerson Alumni - Winter 2018 - 19
Ryerson Alumni - Winter 2018 - 20
Ryerson Alumni - Winter 2018 - 21
Ryerson Alumni - Winter 2018 - 22
Ryerson Alumni - Winter 2018 - 23
Ryerson Alumni - Winter 2018 - 24
Ryerson Alumni - Winter 2018 - 25
Ryerson Alumni - Winter 2018 - 26
Ryerson Alumni - Winter 2018 - 27
Ryerson Alumni - Winter 2018 - 28
Ryerson Alumni - Winter 2018 - 29
Ryerson Alumni - Winter 2018 - 30
Ryerson Alumni - Winter 2018 - 31
Ryerson Alumni - Winter 2018 - 32
Ryerson Alumni - Winter 2018 - 33
Ryerson Alumni - Winter 2018 - 34
Ryerson Alumni - Winter 2018 - 35
Ryerson Alumni - Winter 2018 - 36
Ryerson Alumni - Winter 2018 - 37
Ryerson Alumni - Winter 2018 - 38
Ryerson Alumni - Winter 2018 - 39
Ryerson Alumni - Winter 2018 - 40
Ryerson Alumni - Winter 2018 - 41
Ryerson Alumni - Winter 2018 - 42
Ryerson Alumni - Winter 2018 - 43
Ryerson Alumni - Winter 2018 - 44
Ryerson Alumni - Winter 2018 - 45
Ryerson Alumni - Winter 2018 - 46
Ryerson Alumni - Winter 2018 - 47
Ryerson Alumni - Winter 2018 - 48
Ryerson Alumni - Winter 2018 - Cover3
Ryerson Alumni - Winter 2018 - Cover4
https://www.nxtbookmedia.com