HEY JOE, YA GOT CHEWING GUM?


Years ago I worked as a counsellor in an inner city elementary school. One staff member, a Vancouver police constable, was a member of my team. She was very popular with the students for two reasons: she was the only person in the school allowed to carry a gun, and she always had an unending supply of chewing gum.

She always carried lemon flavoured gum that had enough powdered citric acid to dissolve the teeth of all the Grade One and Two students. These children were always roaming about the school with their front teeth out. Wads of this yellow colored stuff carpeted the gym floor dissolving the varnish. Once, during a floor hockey game, an opposing player fell on a particularly fresh pile carpet of gum. The fire department had to use the Jaws of Life to get him out.

The constable came to the school three times a week to maintain her high profile. Once, she wanted to talk to me about a teenager who might be guilty of placing graffiti on the walls, but she had something to do first. She had a fresh supply of lemon gum to dispense before attending to the less important duties. As usual, twenty gum-hungry students milled about waiting for an impending treat.

She passed out the gum, and warned the children about safety issues. “What are you going to do with it when you’re finished?” she asked. “Are you going to swallow it?” “Noooo.” said the children. “Are you going to spit it on the floor?” “Noooo.” “Are you going to spit it in the toilet?” “Noooo.” “Are you going to stick it on your nose?” “Noooo.””Are you going to stick it up your nose?””Noooo.” “Are you going to throw it in the garbage?” “Noooo.”

Suddenly a child’s hand reached up and touched the wooden handle of her side arm. From then on the conversation took a different tone. It’s too bad. I enjoy the occasional stick of gum, and after this demonstration, I have no idea of the politically correct method of disposal.

I especially enjoy a stick of gum immediately before teaching my fitness classes. It’s part of my psyching technique. I get rid of those pre class jitters by concentrating on the flavorful production of saliva. Even after ten years of teaching, I still worry about whether my class will somehow fail. My main worry concerns running out of saliva during the cardio in a manner that makes my tongue feel like the sole of an athletic shoe. It’s hard to communicate cues to my eager participants when my tongue feels like a used Nike part in my mouth.

Some instructors actually teach while chewing gum. I think this is setting a bad example. First, it looks bad – especially when the gum falls out in the middle of a verbal cue. Do you pick it up and put it back into your mouth, or do you just leave it where it lies for the janitor to clean up at some later date? If you choke on it, do you trust your participants to perform the Heimlich Maneuver?

I always get rid of my gum before the class begins. Whether the constable likes it or not, I always put it in the garbage. I wish I could say the same about some of my participants. This morning I had a class of fifteen. Seven chewed gum. That could be seven opportunities to practice my First Aid and CPR. This is good. Statistics show that most attempts at CPR are unsuccessful. If I had seven chances to practice, I might become a CPR expert. I already made a note to remind participants of the dangers of gum chewing in class. Here’s what I’ll say:

TEN REASONS NOT TO CHEW GUM IN CLASS

10.You’ll get a false sense of security that you have more spit than the instructor.

9. You might choke on it.

8. The instructor doesn’t know the difference between CPR and the Heimlich Maneuver. He’ll use CPR to ‘cop a feel.’

7. It’ll lose it’s flavour before the class ends.

6. Bubbles are distracting.

5. Everyone will want some.

4. There are no places to put it when it becomes stale.

3. Blowing bubbles are distracting to the instructor.

2. Everyone will complain that you’re not popping your gum in time to the music.

1. The instructor will make you stick it on the end of your nose and stand in front of the class.

Mike Broderick is an Employment Specialist for the Neil Squire Society in Burnaby where he finds employment for people with physical disabilities. Part of this work means affiliation with the Vancouver Board of Trade where he is a member of the Ambassador Club, the Burnaby Board of Trade where he is a member of the Labour Task Force, the Tri Cities Chamber of Commerce where he is an active member of the 10X10 initiative, and the Abbotsford Chamber of Commerce. He also does some work as a field Archaeologist. He is also a fitness instructor and frequent contributor of fitness humour articles to alive  

You can reach him at home at michael_broderick@telus.net or at michaelb@neilsquire.ca. re looking for a change, start with a resume makeover at competitive rates

When he is not doing all the above, he lives in Port Coquitlam with his partner Cecelia

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