Stroll down the streets of any major city and take a good hard look at the condition of the sidewalk. For every square foot of concrete, you will find a dozen or more sickly black smudges, the smeared and petrified remains of billions of carelessly spat wads of chewing gum.
Sidewalk gum stains are such an eyesore that companies have sprung up to perform the unenviable task of scouring the sticky refuse from the streets. Gumbusting professionals arm themselves with custom pressure washers that shoot out jets of superheated steam — plus a proprietary chemical blend — to soften and dissolve globs of 25-year-old Bubblicious. The process is painstaking, requiring three to five seconds of concentrated steam per wad of fossilized gum [source: Bhattarai].
Duane Cummins, owner of Gumbusters D.C., steams up enough gum in the nation's capital to earn upward of $100,000 a year [source: Bhattarai]. But before you run out and invest your life savings in a door-to-door gumblasting business, read through this eye-opening account of one gum entrepreneur's regretful experience in Los Angeles.
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