Gum etiquette: rules to live by

A student approaches one of his peers, hands in his pockets and the smell of hummus still flowing from his mouth, and asks, “Do you have any gum?” This questions is asked in almost every classroom at least once a day. The answer is usually a “no” with a possible “sorry” at the end. However, when a student does get a precious piece of gum, he or she is sometimes confused on what is socially acceptable to do afterward. The sacred practice of gum exchange is much like any other exchange. When a person receives a piece of gum from someone, a “thank you” should be said immediately. If the receiver has already obtained more than five sticks of gum in less than a month, he or she should give the other person something in return as soon as possible. The return gift can be something as simple as a stick of gum. However, most people who ask for gum never seem to buy their own gum. Recently, I have noticed an increase in people asking for gum. Ironically, there has been a decrease in those who actually have gum. For those who rely on others for gum, I would recommend buying your own gum. It seems to be easier to buy a pack of gum from the store than searching the entire school for someone who has a piece. With that said, there are a few people who always seem to have gum and are more than willing to share. The presence of these people is the sole reason why many people have any gum at all. Those who are able to locate a “gum dealer” and acquire a piece of gum must then abide by another set of rules. When chewing a piece of gum, you must be considerate to those around you. Pretty much everything you don’t want others to do, others don’t want you to do. For example, chewing with your mouth open and popping bubbles loudly are two things that should never be done. The last thing people want to hear is a person’s teeth chomping down on gum as saliva sloshes around in the chewer’s mouth. Twirling gum around your finger is also something that should be avoided. Not only are you receiving germs from your finger, but you are also transferring your own germs to your finger, which will likely touch hundreds of items throughout the game. Disposing of a piece of gum is also a process that should be carefully considered. Stepping on a piece of moist gum, unable to pry it off without rubbing your foot against the floor multiple times and looking like an idiot, is possibly one of the most annoying experiences ever. Additionally, you should never stick your piece of gum underneath a table. I do not want to unexpectedly touch your gum when I reach under a table. When your piece of gum has lost its flavor, please throw it away in a trash can. Furthermore, having to take out trash at my job, I know how horrible it is to unexpectedly touch a piece of used gum wrapped up in a corner of the trash bag. So, please be considerate of those who take out garbage and wrap your piece of gum up before throwing it away. Just because we were not able to chew gum in elementary school or middle school does not mean that we should abuse our right to do so now. Gum chewing, if not done properly, can become a very disgusting past-time. Common sense should guide one in one’s gum chewing endeavors. However, if one ever question what to, just remember that being considerate to others is the most important thing. I can assure you that smelling hummus breath is much better than touching saliva-moistened gum.