Updated, 6:42 a.m.
Good morning on this lovely Tuesday.
Let’s talk about gum.
More specifically, the quarter-size, tarlike blobs that dot our sidewalks from those who spit out once-fresh gobs of gum for all to tread upon.
Go ahead, look around your feet right now if you’re outside. We’ll give you a few seconds.
Did you know it’s someone’s job to clean that hardened goo off the pavement?
Meet Herbert Murray, the assistant supervisor of sanitation for the Times Square Alliance, who spends three days a week blasting gum off the sidewalks with a machine appropriately named GumBusters. It looks like a miniature gasoline pump on a wheeled, steel cart with a special hose.
When he spots gum on the pavement, he rubs the bristles on the end of the GumBusters hose against it, and then lets the solution and the steam do their thing.
If it is too cold outside, the GumBusters machine can’t be used because the solution and the water can freeze. Instead, Mr. Murray uses a GumBusters stick: a silver wand with a razor on the end to scrape away the gum.
The work can go pretty fast and it comes with instant gratification in the form of clean pavement.
“I want people to come to Times Square and see it’s beautiful and that it is clean.” Mr. Murray said. “If they smile, I smile. I do it for the people.”
He also offered some advice to gum chewers: “Please put your gum in a napkin and dispose of it in the trash can. Gum destroys property.”
That’s his polite way of saying: Don’t be lazy and don’t inconvenience others by spitting your gum onto the ground.