That’s the name of a popular “Saturday Night Live” skit in which “anchor” Seth Meyers reports the latest news of the day with incredulous skepticism and disgust. The sketch plays on the old comedy maxim that things are funny because they’re true. But it turns that truism on its ear by simply using the news itself as the butt of the joke.
Anyone who’s seen the latest Anthony Weiner headlines (Weiner — Really!?!) can see why it works. You just reach a point with some news stories, where you have to shake your head and say, “Really!?!”
That’s exactly how I’ve felt as the story unfolded around the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s recall of approximately 1 million drain covers that began just before the Memorial Day weekend. This latest development in the ever-developing story that is the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool & Spa Safety Act
Debacle (VGBAD for short) is worthy of its own SNL “Really!?!” treatment. But Seth Meyers probably won’t tackle it, so I thought I’d give it a shot.
After more than a year of research and investigation, the CPSC decides to recall about a million drain covers — two days before the biggest swim day of the year. Furthermore, the agency says, the only recourse for affected pools is to shut down. Really!?!
That’s like telling kids there won't be any presents the day before Christmas, after they’d worked in sweat shops to make their own gifts! CPSC couldn’t have started the recall sooner, or picked a less painful way of dealing with the issue, like say draining every other public pool in the nation and popping all floaties? Really!?!
Then, after CPSC announces this massive recall, it gives a bunch of exceptions to the rule, saying “most” dual main drain pools are exempt, but warning pool operators to check with manufacturers if they’re not sure. Oh, and you’d better keep good records because CPSC will be checking. Really!?!
This is the same agency that did at least three different interpretations and reinterpretations to the original law that got us here in the first place. For operators, trusting CPSC at this point is like agreeing to buy that nice piece of swampland from your ex-con cousin-in-law and then giving him your house, too. Really!?!
Now we’re finding out that several manufacturers whose products have been recalled have not yet “ramped up” production for the replacements or retrofits. And it’s murky at best as to who should be doing the replacements or retrofits from manufacturers who do have the parts available. Oh, and even though CPSC says manufacturers will foot the bill, operators are hearing otherwise. Really!?!
So let’s put this into perspective: A law was shoved down the industry’s throat without proper timing or available products necessary to comply at a time when most facilities were already struggling financially. When the product finally was made available, it got pushed through a shoddy certification process that resulted in “potentially” unsafe drain covers that cost a fortune to buy and install. The affected covers (about a million of them) then were recalled two days before opening day of swimming, and here’s the kicker, folks, REPLACEMENT PRODUCTS ARE NOT YET AVAILABLE! Really!?!
CPSC couldn’t have worked with manufacturers to ensure that when they told an entire nation that pools may be unsafe, they’d also have the necessary fix? That’s like the president going on TV to tell us a meteor is hurtling toward Earth, threatening to wipe out life as we know it. But not to worry. Scientists have created a special force field to protect us. Well, most of us. In some parts of the country, the force fields aren’t ready yet. But they’re “forthcoming.” Really!?!