American Speech-Language-Hearing Association

Lessons in Hope and Respect From I Love Lucy?

By Steve Ritch

The I Love Lucy show has always been one of my favorites. If you saw my collection of Lucy memorabilia, you would probably agree that I am indeed a devoted fan! One of the things I liked most about the show was that, no matter what crazy situation Lucy got involved in, she could always count on her best friend Ethel (and frequently Ethel's husband, Fred) to help her out.

In one memorable episode, Lucy and Ethel bet Ricky (Lucy's Cuban, bandleader husband) and Fred that the ladies could get jobs to support the family, but the guys would not be able last a day as "house husbands." Basically, the women and the men agree to switch jobs for a time period.

Over the course of the episode, many hijinks ensue, but perhaps the most hilarious scene is when Lucy and Ethel are working on an assembly line in a candy factory, wrapping the individual pieces of chocolate and placing them on a conveyor belt as it passes their station. This task is actually their last chance to win the bet, because they have botched many other jobs during their brief stint at the factory. In fact, their long-suffering supervisor tells them that if even one piece of candy slips by without being wrapped properly, they will be dismissed!

At first, all goes well. But then, the supervisor checks in on them and decides that the girls are doing such a good job, he can speed up the conveyor belt; that's when things rapidly deteriorate. Suddenly faced with a seemingly never-ending stream of candy coming at them at what feels like warp speed, the ladies resort to stuffing candy into their uniforms, hiding candy in their hats, and even eating mouthfuls of the chocolates!

Needless to say, the job does not end well. The ladies feel very defeated when they are fired, but when they return home, they are pleased to learn that the fellows didn't manage any better at taking care of the household chores. In fact, the guys feel so bad about the mess they made of housekeeping; that they buy the girls a five-pound box of chocolates—each!

I relate this story to illustrate a point: Sometimes we feel taken for granted or we feel that someone else has an easier time of things. We may even entertain the fantasy of quitting or running away from our current situation.

However, we are not always seeing things in the proper perspective. The old adage about "walking a mile in someone else's moccasins" is certainly true: You never know how difficult things may be for someone else until you have looked at things from his or her point of view. That being said, we never really experience the challenges another person faces because we each have different coping skills, different family backgrounds, different educational experiences, and different support networks.

Sometimes it may seem you are not supported, but that really isn't true. You have access to the ASHA Associates Program, which was created just for that reason—to support you and your supervisor. The Associates Program offers you a variety of benefits and also connects you to ASHA's network for advocacy (on the state and national level), ASHA Communities (online), and the professional practices teams. ASHA works tirelessly to educate consumers, affiliated organizations, state governments, and elected officials about the professions in communications sciences and disorders (CSD) and the issues affecting the discipline—including support personnel.

Remember, when you are facing a seemingly endless barrage of things coming at you (much like the candy on the conveyor belt), you do have an advocate. The ASHA Associates program and your fellow support personnel can be a source of strength and unity. Every problem may not be solved right away, but it does help to know that you have people on your side.

Like Lucy and her friends learned, it isn't always easy to look at things objectively until we have experienced things from a different perspective. We are all tempted from time to time to give up or to entertain fantasies of escapism. Ultimately, like Lucy and Ethel, we really just need someone else to support us. We need to know that others are going through the same situations that we face, and we need to know that help is available when we need it.

Through the Associates Program, ASHA is here for you—to serve as an advocate and as a support mechanism. The resources are accessible to you, but you have to actively choose to use them if they are to be meaningful. You can get more out of your affiliation in the Associates Program by becoming more engaged. Submit an article to The ASHA Leader or Associates Insights, take part in the ASHA Community (the Associates Community will launch in July 2013), take a course, read the Issues in Ethics: Audiology Assistants or Issues in Ethics: Speech-Language Pathology Assistants, or even attend ASHA Convention or a conference. You will definitely be helping yourself by increasing your involvement in ASHA and the Associates Program. Who knows, you may even get a box of chocolates!

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