Sweeping a foot

Informant: “Someone sweeping your foot with a broom…It’s supposed to be bad luck.”

My informant is a middle-aged flight attendant and actor. He has observed this superstition his whole life, but does not recall from whom he learned it. According to him:

“I’m not very superstition but the things that I am superstitious about, I’m very adamant about those things.”

I asked him whether or not he believes it causes bad luck, to which he responded:

“I don’t think it necessarily…I just don’t…it has the potential to because that’s what superstition is. I don’t need that extra mixed in.”

He described the kind of context in which he observes this superstition:

“You know, like suppose you’re in a restaurant, um, and someone’s sweeping, one of the staff is sweeping, and then, they’re trying to get the shit up off the floor, um, there’s a time and a place for that. You don’t sweep the customer’s foot or you don’t sweep around them, you know what I mean? I think it’s incredibly rude…”

My informant is a flight attendant, and so has a fine tuned sense of how to treat a customer’s limited space. Thus it makes sense that he would be so vehemently against violating a person’s privacy and body in this way. He understands and respects the codes of the service industry, and applies them to the way he treats other people in general, regardless of whether or not he is serving them. It also makes sense that a superstitiousness and fear of ill fate would be attached to this behavior. If someone’s foot is swept with a broom, their body is, in a sense, being included with dirt and dust. It is a form of degradation that can signal an equally degrading or unfortunate future.