Tag Archives: chewing gum

Gum check

I’m a waiter. I get people Diet Cokes and make sure that everybody’s happy. Great. The dinner rush comes and goes, closing time is at eleven, and barring any customers trying to spend the rest of the night camped out at my tables, it’s time for me to start making my way toward the exit. Unfortunately it’s not as simple as counting up my tips and calling it a day. “Hey Rob,” the head waiter calls out to me just as I’m packing up my stuff, “Make sure you check for gum.”

gum under the table

Fucking gum check. Do you know what that is? It’s me having to get on my hands and knees with a flashlight and checking to see if anybody stuck their chewing gum underneath the table. And you know what sucks? You know what’s really crazy? It’s that there’s always gum. Every single night, there’s at least one wad of chewed up gum stuck under one of my tables.

Unless you work as a waiter or waitress, maybe you think that I’m full of shit, that nobody goes into a restaurant and knowingly deposits their chewed up gum for someone else to clean up. I mean, that’s what I used to think before my bosses started making me do gum checks. The first time I thought it was a joke. I was like, that’s a funny thing to go and check for. Why would anybody spit out a piece of chewed up gum, inside a restaurant, at a table, and just leave it there?

But sure enough, I did that first gum check and there were like three pieces of gum. I couldn’t believe it. A hot towel wasn’t really doing the trick, because this stuff had since dried out and cemented itself in place. I found this flat chisel shaped tool, and that was kind of doing it, but finally I went to the maintenance guy who gave me this can of compressed gas stuff that froze the gum at the end of a long tube.

Still, it was a pain in the ass. Each piece of gum took like two minutes to clean up. Multiply each piece of gum by two, add that to the end of a busy night waiting tables, it’s not fun. It’s not a nice way to wrap things up. That first night I thought to myself, man, they must not have checked these tables in a while. Well that should take care of the gum problem for a few months at least.

And then on my second night, just as I was about to head out the door, the head waiter stopped me again, “Hey Rob, did you make sure to do a gum check?” and I barely even halted my stride. I just paused long enough to say, “No man, we did those last night.” But he persisted, “No, Rob, we have to do those every night. Gum checks every night.”

Every night? That seemed a little much. Sure, I could accept the fact that maybe once in a while someone would be careless enough to leave a piece of gum under the table. Maybe they were on a date, maybe they forgot to bring a wrapper or they were too embarrassed to ask for an extra napkin. I don’t know, things happen, people get funny in restaurants.

Like I said, once in a while. So I grabbed the flashlight just to kind of go through the motions, like yup, check, no gum, check. But on that first table, I couldn’t believe it. It was another three pieces of gum. I had just cleaned three pieces of gum from this table the night before. And now three more pieces? Was it three different guests, each leaving their own mark on our furniture, or was it a repeat offender, someone just constantly chewing gum in between bites of food?

At this point I wish I could say that I’ve made peace with the insanity of my situation. But every night, right as I should be on my way home, I find myself on the dirty floor scraping someone else’s chewed up gum off of the underside of our tables. It’s every night. It’s every table. What in the actual hell is going on? Who does stuff like that?

Since there’s so much gum at this restaurant, I’m statistically bound to assume that the majority of diners are guilty of this offense. But since I’ve never actually heard anybody talking about leaving gum, no friends or family members, I’m inclined to believe that everybody’s doing it in secret. Everybody chews, everybody sticks it to the table, and nobody says a word.

And all that’s left is me touching other people’s chewed up gum. It’s disgusting. It’s the absolute worst way to end any night. There’s nothing I’d rather do less than squeeze myself under a table and, with one hand hold a flashlight, using my free hand to clean up gross nasty it’s-been-in-someone-else’s-mouth-for-a-while chewing gum.

So here’s out with it. If you’re reading this, if you go out to eat, don’t put your fucking gum under the table. Ask me for a napkin. I’ll stick out my hand at the table and you can spit it out right there, I’ll catch it, I’ll actually do that, because even though that sounds horrible, trust me, I’d rather do that right there while it’s still fresh and pliable than at the end of the night when I’m tired, and I want to go home, but I can’t go home, because your stupid gum is all dried up and stuck, and maybe I’ve got half of it off, but the base layer won’t budge, and it’s coming off all stringy, and the gum string is really thin and wispy, and did one of those strings just float up and hit me in the face? In the mouth? Get me the fuck out of under this table, please, just go to the bathroom and spit out your gum, come on, let’s do it like they do in Singapore, where if you get caught chewing gum some police officer has to give you like ten lashes to the back with a cane, you know, that’s not a bad system, we look at them and think, how cruel! How barbaric! But we’re the barbarians here, we’re walking around chewing this gum like it’s cud, and we’re just sticking it anywhere, it’s sticky and so I don’t have to find a trashcan, I can just leave it wherever the hell I want. Why? I have no idea, but I’m just going to do it, and I don’t care, because some other jerk will clean it up eventually, and it won’t be me.

Don’t be an inconsiderate asshole. Spit out your gum in a napkin.

An open letter to Big League Chew

Dear Big League Chew:

I’m writing for several reasons. I wanted to start out this letter by writing, “I’ve got some good news and I’ve got some bad news,” but I’ve decided against that particular opening. First of all, it works much better face to face, because I can make it more interactive, like, “What do you want first, the good news or the bad news?” and then you could decide, depending on whether or not you’d like the good news first, to build you up for the inevitable bad news. Or maybe you’d prefer to get the bad news out of the way, take that bitter medicine, and then take the good news to sort of chase down the negativity.


Anyway, I’d like to point out that I’ve always been a Big League Chew fan. Ever since I was a little kid, I preferred your gum to other little kids’ chewing gums. I’ve never been a fan of Bubble Tape. Between you and me, although I’ve never busted out the tape measure, I’ve always been skeptical about there being a full six feet rolled up in that package. Bubble Yum? Bubbleicious? No thank you. I did flirt with switching to Skittles Gum as my go-to brand, but after the novelty of them tasting and having the same chew as Skittles candy wore off, I realized that it would be Big League Chew for life.

Even if I didn’t get the reference when I was a little kid, that the pouch of gum was supposed to be shaped like a pouch of chewing tobacco, that the thin strands of gum were supposed to be similarly identical, it didn’t stop me from fully enjoying your product. Whenever I watched a pro baseball player chewing something from a pouch, which, to be perfectly honest, I can’t really ever remember seeing, but maybe if I saw a movie or something where the pitcher was chewing some chew, I’d just assume it was Big League Chew.

I love Big League Chew despite any baseball references, although the name made the baseball connection almost automatic. Also the cartoon baseball player on the pouch. But I prefer Big League Chew for several non-baseball related reasons:


  1. By not having individual pieces of gum, I’m free to choose exactly how much gum I want in my mouth at any given time. I’m not bound to individual sticks, having to decide between one or two. With Big League Chew, I can chew the equivalent of one and a half sticks, or one and three quarters sticks. It means more options for me, which I love.
  2. Unlike the other big gums, like the ones I’ve mentioned before, Big League Chew is definitely the chewiest. Nothing is worse than a big mouthful of gum that offers no resistance to your teeth. You’ll be chewing and chewing and it won’t stay in a cohesive wad. It’s totally unsatisfying, too liquid-like, too easy for stray pieces to get stuck in between the big molars in the back of your mouth.
  3. Big League Chew gets points from me in regards to flavor selection. I like how you guys keep it simple. Regular. Grape. One time I saw Green Apple, I think, although that might have been a dream. Regardless, it’s usually just regular. It makes the decision making process really easy, on my end.

Having said all of that, I do have to mention some areas in which I think there’s definitely room for improvement. (Remember the whole good news/bad news thing? Yeah, so I gave you the good news first.) Where Big League Chew has the best chew, like I said before, I think you guys could work on taste. While the initial few chomps definitely pack a lot of flavor, I feel like the intensity of that flavor drops precipitously after a minute, a minute and a half. I’m not expecting it to last forever, but maybe three minutes, four minutes, that might be an improvement.

Other than that, I just want to say, keep up the great work. I love Big League Chew to the point where I refuse to acknowledge any other chewing gums. In fact, I can’t even really chew anymore, because I’ve spent the majority of my life chewing Big League Chew. My jaw doesn’t close right, making chewing gum an impossibility. But I still buy it anyway. I’ll bring the pouch to my face and take deep breaths in. I’ll put some in my mouth and let the flavor just soak through my tongue. It’s still great.

Big League Chew For Life,

Rob G.

PS – One time I wrote to Pepperidge Farm telling them how much I love Milanos and they sent me a whole case of cookies. Any chance you’d like to up the ante? Let me know.