Let’* really think about something.
I’d like you to go back in time, and I’d like you to remember the last pack of gum that you started, worked your way through, and finished entirely on your own. Try to narrow it down to the day, the second, that you popped out that last piece of gum and said, “Wow, this pack took forever to finish! I can’t believe I made it through twelve pieces of gum.”
You probably can’t. I think that almost nobody could. This is for two reasons:
It’* actually sort of an insane thing to try to remember, but also
because it’* impossible — nigh onto socially unacceptable — not to share your gum with people
I discovered this the other day, when I (speaking of socially unacceptable) categorically refused to share my gum with people. It went something like this:
Me: (to self) Wow, my breath really smells like **** after that falafel. Now it’* time to Excel-erate my breath with delicious gum!
Girl at work: Oh hey, is that gum?
Girl: Well… can I have some?
(Now, normally this is when you would expect me to simply say, “Sure, here, have some,” and hand over the pack. That’* what people do. They hand over the pack and they don’t even flinch, even when the other person takes like two or three of those little gums and only sometimes says thanks.
Don’t ask me why I felt like being contrary, but maybe it had to do with the fact that my mouth tasted like the floor of a Lebanese restaurant, or my stomach was about to feel like someone installed a compressor in it — I couldn’t tell you. In any event, I said
Me: Well… no.
(another long pause)
Girl: What? Why not?
Me: My breath is really rotten, and I think I’m going to need all the help I can get. I’m serious. I would breathe at you but then you would die.
Girl: Oh, you’re just being funny. It’* nothing like that, and you have plenty, c’mon.
Me: No. Like, really: No.
Girl: You’re really not going to give me a single piece of gum, are you? Are you cheap or something? What does a single piece of gum cost you?
Me: I don’t know, honestly. I guess the pack cost me about a dollar and a half, so… what, that divided by twelve.
Girl: Exactly: Ten cents.
Me: Right, ten cents. If you came over here asking me for a dime any time I had my wallet out, should I do that too?
Girl: I cannot believe you. (storms off)
Me: My breath really does feel Excel-erated.
Now granted, I took some pains to be a raging ******* in this scenario, but you have to understand: That falafel was really good, but it made me smell really bad. That’* enough to ruin anyone’* day.
However, at the same time, I do not understand what it is about chewing gum suddenly empowers anyone passing by to automatically qualify for a free sample. I’m not averse to sharing stuff with people — Christ, I spend whole afternoons baking pies that I never even eat — but there is something about the presumption that crawls right up my nose and doesn’t shake loose.
What is doubly fascinating about this is the raw shock and outrage that accompanies a refusal, as though you are so petty and miserly a soul that you are not willing to share even the smallest token with others, regardless of whether you like them or not. I have seen people resort to outright lying (”Ohhh, sorry, that was my last one, I’m just putting the package back in my purse because there’* nowhere to throw it away, no that garbage can over there is full actually, it just looks empty”) rather than simply saying no, which seems disproportionately weird to me.
There are stages to any negotiation, incidentally, around denying someone access to your chewing gum. You may recognize them:
Denial and isolation: “This is not happening, I will simply ask for your gum again.”
Anger: “How dare you deny me your gum?”
Bargaining: “How much could gum possibly cost? I just want one.”
Depression: “I can’t believe I live in a world where you won’t give me minty-freshness.”
Acceptance: “You are a total bastard.”
You may also be forced to contend with a permanent stigma as a rotten, chiseling, cheap bastard if you choose to even take the first step down this path. Consequences may include snotty jokes about how you don’t like to share, what a miracle it is that you choose to share other things when you won’t share a piece of gum, or denial of even the smallest favor from others.
Depending on how strident you are in your refusal, some or all of these might be totally deserved. On the other hand, this appears to be the hard and fast rule:
If you wish to remain popular, you must share your gum.
taken from http://www.miscellaneousetc.com/