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  • Reverend James Squire

What Can We Learn from An Episode of I Love Lucy




There is a classic episode of the I Love Lucy Show that gets a laugh every time. Lucille Ball and Ethel Mertz are on an assembly line in a chocolate factory where they have to keep up with wrapping chocolates as they pass by on a conveyer belt. The belt begins to move faster, and they get behind in their job and Lucy is forced to stuff the chocolates in her mouth and down her clothing. I now don’t find it funny at all!


As we draw closer to the possible strike of the Auto Workers Union, I want you to notice the assembly line where men and women work. It is obvious that they perform the same job minute after minute and hour after hour. I am sure that there is a quota of pieces that they must add to the car. The assembly line never stops except possibly for lunch.


Those repetitive tasks are mind numbing as you merge your soul and lose it to the soul of the machine. You are a cog in the wheel of production, nothing more and nothing less. There are elements that define the working class. You are working with your hands and not your mind. You can in many situations be easily replaced. You are subject to absolute boredom because of the repetitive nature of the work. You fear automation and advances in computers including artificial intelligence. There is usually some form of physical exertion that is required. You are working for one reason and that is to receive money. There is no joy, meaning, or purpose.


But here is the cruel irony! You are what makes America run! I have had some work done recently at our home on the Bay. I always say before I hand the worker a check that “you are America!” I also remind them that they are what make this country great. Most respond, “No one has ever said that to me!” That is my mission to the working class. One worker at a time!


All my jobs as a kid trying to get out of working-class America motivated me like nothing else could. All involved repetition and would break you if you knew that you had to do that all of your life. Those jobs put a fire in my belly so I owe them a great deal. They were distinctive! When I drive by a work crew digging ditches as tough as those jobs are, it is worse when you are dealing with a conveyor belt and can’t stop it to lean a bit on a shovel.


My first job was as a cashier. I couldn’t keep up with the long lines. I loaded gallon paint cans onto skids four to a box off a conveyer belt that never stopped. I worked in a ball bearing plant surrounded by three lathes and a quota of ball bearings that I had to make during a shift. I ate as quickly as I could because the quota didn’t allow for lunch or breaks. The steel mill was in a league of its own. If I didn’t shovel coal back on to a never-ending belt of coal, I would be buried up to my knees in it.


I always try to thank a cashier checking me out or show appreciation to a working-class person doing something for me.

Notice how many potential strikes are happening locally and nationally to, in some small way, bridge the wealth gap.


I am all in that everybody should do community service as a requirement for citizenship in our country. But I have an additional requirement that I would like to see. Every American should work as a cashier for two weeks in a busy grocery store with long lines with the same quota of items checked out as a regular cashier, and you don’t have a bagger. Feel what that is like! Then think about it as your job for life. You can’t be it (experience working class life for a few moments) if you can’t see it (how important they are to our nation).


After that, I guarantee that if you turn on your TV and see that episode of I Love Lucy with Lucille Ball unable to keep up with a conveyer belt and stuffing chocolate candy in her mouth, you won’t be laughing. You will be saying to yourself, “There but for the grace of God, go I.


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