Don't get me wrong... SLPs are not lingual snobs who mock or scorn these "mispronounced" words (well, there may be a few out there who are as I recall some derisive comments about George W's speech skills at an ASHA conference years ago... but that was likely more politically motivated... but since he is a native Texan like myself, I did not fully appreciate it... but I digress). Rather than snobbery, it is a by-product of our training and our honed craft. We do not deride the differences; we simply notice them, to the point of distraction. This curse has been particularly troublesome during church services when a guest preacher has a subtle lisp and I find myself focused on his /s/ sound rather than the content of his sermon. Or when our preacher produces the "eel" sound as "ill": Someone was hilled/healed, we can fill/feel an emotion.... I invariably get irritated with myself for picturing in my mind an actual "hill" or someone "filling" something, even though I know fully well what was intended in the comment. I am also cursed with a graphic mind; I make lots of pictures in my brain. There was also the time when a new weatherman had difficulty with his /r/ sound and I could not focus on what the forecast was because I was so focused on each and every /r/ sound that came out of his mouth, comparing them to see in what context he said a better /r/. I immediately called my co-worker and asked if he was one of our former clients, which he was not. (Happily, he must have had some speech therapy recently because he sounds so much better and I now can actually listen to the forecast and end up knowing whether or not rain is expected tomorrow).
I recall when this was not a problem for me. Prior to going to college and getting my training, I had a much more "East Texas" accent than I do now. My phonetics and phonology teacher made it abundantly clear that people in Michigan would never allow us to teach speech to their kids if we could not distinguish between the words "pen, pan, pin" in our own speech. I recall being amazed that those words actually were supposed to sound different from one another. What a novel concept to me! Even people from Dallas, 2 hours northwest of us, were known to make fun of our accents. Although I believe people in West Texas have thicker accents; just my humble opinion. It is probably more a rural versus city kind of difference.
Also, I grew up with a mother who has a thick accent from Belgium. I had noticed the accent during my growing up years but I was acclimated to it. I knew she could not say her "th" sound but it never really bothered me or distracted me from the message. I recall a time when I had brought a new friend over to my home. After meeting my mom she asked me why my mother wanted to know if she had some butter at home. I paused for a moment, a bit confused, and then started laughing when I realized my mother had asked her if she had any "brothers" at home. Of course having grown up listening to her, I understood everything she said. I was often amazed at how others did not understand so much of what she said. I also realized that people often don't try very hard to understand others with speech differences. Maybe that is one of the reasons I ended up in this field. On a side note, growing up with a foreign born mom was quite fun. She good naturedly put up with our laughing at her mispronunciations: tree trees / three trees, foe-toe-graffy / photography, moss-kit-oh / mosquito, and comments like "I am so disgusting / I am so disgusted", I also picked up on few of her pronunciations and recall not feeling so good natured when I was laughed at by my friends when I pronounced the name of the store "Sears" as "Searis" (I think I also was known to say "foe-toe-graffy" once or twice).
I suppose every profession has such pitfalls. Whatever it is that we spend our time doing, will invariably carryover into other parts of our lives. So, instead of a curse maybe it is just the natural progression of the skills that make us great SLPs. We are what we are.