Two weekends ago, I was at a local church service enjoying hearing from a guest speaker who was visiting. While listening to the Pastor’s awesome message, I kept hearing someone snap their from gum behind me, it had become quite distracting. I literally wrote the title for today’s manners post in small letters on the back of my Sunday program so I’d remind myself to post about here later.
Aside from gum snappers and loud chewers, there are limited times when chewing gum is appropriate and also times when it is not, so I wanted to address these aspects also. Let me just say though, if you’re ever in doubt as to whether it might be okay, err on the side of caution and avoid it.
When Not to Chew Gum
1. At Work: Avoid chewing gum during any professional meetings, during church, at job interviews and in small classes or in any class where your participation is required or you’ll be speaking. (I think it’s a good thing that many schools don’t allow it). You want to eliminate gum chewing in any working environment where you’re in constant contact with customers or clients (this is common with sales jobs) and also advised for therapists, professors, teachers, counselors, professional speakers, instructors, trainers, singers, performers and of course clergy. Even Doctors, Dentists or Lawyers will have a more polished and professional appearance without the chomping of gum.
2. At Home: As it pertains to close family and friends, I think it is disrespectful particularly with the elderly to be chewing gum while carrying on a conversation. Many times they are hard of hearing, and are forced to read lips a little bit and this makes things challenging for them. Apart from this aspect, many older folks grew up in a time when gum chewing was considered to be tacky and you just didn’t do it. Around your friends and closest of family, I think it is okay to chew gum with a closed mouth where the chewing is quiet and almost not noticeable.
If you’re going to chew gum, the best time is in your car, at home, while reading or anytime you’re not carrying on a conversation with others on the phone or in person. I am one of those people who if chewing gum for a while can start making snapping noises with it, I’m aware of it so I typically only chew it for a few minutes post-meal or do away with it altogether and use mints instead.
Chewing Quietly & Respectfully
As you’ll note from my personal example at church, it only became an issue for those surrounding her including myself when it got noisy and became a distraction. Had the gum chewing been free of snapping and her mouth was closed while chewing, I probably wouldn’t have even noticed.
If one cannot chew gum without needing to open their mouth and appear to be chewing cud like a horse, it’s probably best to avoid gum altogether. If the gum chewing is for fresher breath, a mint might be a better option.
If you’re one who enjoys snapping, popping and blowing bubbles from gum (you might be surprised to know that I’m one of those that do so I have to be very mindful of it), the only time you should be doing this is at home, by yourself when you’re not going to irritate others. In fact, I would strongly discourage such behavior as it would be easy to carry out the same popping in public forgetting where you are, as with most things in life what we do in private usually become public at some point in time.
Disposing of Chewed Gum
Nobody enjoys getting a wad of gum stuck to the bottom of their shoe. There is a proper way of disposing chewing gum that doesn’t include sticking it under a desk or chair, rolling it in a ball and tossing it into a potted plant (I’ve seen people do this before) or sticking it to the wall of a building. Gum is sticky and especially when it gets hot, it becomes a gooey mess.
The most clean and elegant way of disposing of gum is to carry a small pack of tissues with you and use the tissue to quickly remove the gum from your mouth, squeeze the tissue and toss it into a garbage bin (not a recycling bin, not a smoker’s ashtray-only a garbage. This way your hands stay clean and is is far more discreet. A lady never spits gum or anything else for that matter out of her mouth, that is an absolute no-no.
Chewing Gum & Health
Gum chewing is personal-some enjoy it and some don’t. Let me just say that I used to chew a lot of gum. I’ve never been a smoker but for some reason since high school, I loved the fresh burst of mint-it seemed to perk me up midday and it seemed to somehow occupy my mouth while in a boring class. It just kind of became a habit I suppose. Today I almost never chew it. Two years ago, I went to the Dentist because I had jaw pain and it felt as though my jaw wasn’t aligned properly for some reason and it had begun clicking. He enlightened me by letting me know that by constantly chewing (as in the case of gum) that you actually over-exercise your jaw. Like a rubber band, the constant stretching will eventually wear out those muscles and hearing clicking or grinding in the jaw would not be uncommon, it was eye-opening to say the least. After that day, I stopped because I’m too young to have jaw problems.
On a side note, the other negative health issue I found with gum is that all of the mainstream brands contains aspartame, BHT, acesulfame-potassium and other chemicals to artificially sweeten it which have been proven to cause health problems like tumors-eek! Yet, I see so many small children chewing it which is really scary. For that reason, the gum I’ve been buying for the past few years is called Spry-the peppermint flavor is my favorite. I like that they offer a healthier alternative to regular gum after trying many other natural brands. They use natural ingredients and sweeten with sugar-free xylitol which comes from the birch tree and naturally sweetens without adding sugar and actually cleans your teeth and prevents cavities. I purchased mine from Whole Foods or online here and it’s not like chewing on a rock as with some other natural gum. They also sell mints and toothpaste. While this may come across as an ad for them, it’s not, you all know I love to share my favorite things with you. 😉
What are your thoughts on gum chewing as it pertains to manners? Are there any points I missed that you’d like to add?
Have a great week!