I think it is socially unacceptable for someone to pop or crack their gum in public places. I find it beyond annoying, and unfortunately have a seizure disorder that makes this habit even more annoying. Yet, the responses I get when asking the offenders to refrain is mostly appalled looks, insinuating that I am the rude one. Do these smackers ever notice their resemblance to a cow chewing its cud? How do I get them to cut it out?
-Sick of the Smacking
Unfortunately rude behavior is everywhere. People talk on the phone in the movie theater, text at the table, cut in line and pop their gum. Let’s assume that folks are unaware that their gum chewing can be heard by others, cracking and snapping away. After all, the popping and bubble blowing are what make gum chewing fun. It will take a little GUMption (hey, it was too good to pass up), but it is perfectly normal to politely ask the chewers to refrain from such open-mouthed racket. Try a little humor to make like of the situation, like “Wow, that gum must be yummy!” Or, maybe a little more direct, such as, “What’s that? I couldn’t hear you over that gum-smacking.” You will probably get some blank stares or shrugged shoulders from strangers, but your friends, coworkers and family may take heed. Remember that behavior is learned and it takes some time to unlearn it. It isn’t your place to go wagging your Ms. Manners finger at every offender. Hopefully, after a kind request and mention of the matter, the inconsiderate smacking will stop. If not, you may have to tune it out and let it go.
I live in a large house with three other housemates, one of which is the owner. At her request, each housemate is responsible for cleaning the shared bathroom once a week. Sharing with two men is disgusting, with urine on and around the toilet, unmentionables on the floor and hair mucking the shower. While I am a diligent cleaner, the boys are not, delivering unreliable results, at best. To make matters worse, the owner of the house, “Charlene” constantly reminds me when it is my turn to clean by knocking on my door, leaving notes in the common areas and sending me emails. It’s pretty obvious that she favors the male housemates over me, letting their laziness go unaddressed. I am well aware of the schedule and I am also resentful that she parents me and not the guys. How do I get her to be fair?
-Resenting the Roommates
While your male roommates’ cleaning habits are clearly different from yours, their sloppiness is not your biggest problem. Charlene’s parental tactics of nagging you while letting the boys skate along is not fair, or productive. Perhaps you should suggest a house meeting to discuss your concerns with the boys. Talk with Charlene separately explaining your case, while keeping an open mind for her response. Perhaps she always cleaned up after her brothers, she is intimidated by holding men accountable or she is otherwise archaically programmed to believe that cleaning is a woman’s job. Whatever the case, let her know that you are fully aware of your schedule and you will not, nor have you ever, defaulted on your end of the agreement. However, she must agree to do the same. Holding the other housemates accountable for the cleaning schedule is part of the plan that she instituted. If Charlene insists on the schedule, suggest the policing be directed to where it is needed most – the men.
We all need advice from time to time as we struggle, question and wiggle at life’s twists and turns. From the trials of coupledom and parenthood, to life as an adult child, climbing the professional ladder and being a true sister, questions flurry. Every week, our advice contributor will help you work out those pressing issues with thoughtfulness and humor. Got a pressing situation for Case Studies? Please send your questions for publication to email@example.com. (Questions may be edited)