Ervin: Straw Users Unite!

Mike ErvinWe’re passionate about full and equal access to martinis.

Here’s a subject that’s been gnawing on my last nerve for a long time: Straws!

I’ll tell you what I hate with all the fury of Hades. I hate when I buy a bottled beverage and I put a straw in it and the straw is about a half inch too damn short. And so the straw falls down inside the bottle and I have to fish it out with my tongue and I can never get all the drink out of the bottle because the straw can’t touch bottom and blah blah blah.

And so, in order to be prepared for anything, I have to carry around an arsenal of different straws. I’ve got a metric boatload of long, straight, sturdy straws, which would be all I’d ever need in a perfect world where every beverage was served to me in a coffee mug on my kitchen table. But try drinking a martini with one of those straws. It’s too long and heavy and falls right out of the glass. For the successful consumption of a martini, one needs those short, thin bar straws. The same goes for drinking out of a wine glass. But what about drinking champagne out of those stupid flute glasses? For that you’ve got to have an elbow straw that bends. But the elbow straw is bound to be way too short because they don’t make elbow straws long enough to fit comfortably in a flute glass.

See what I mean?

There needs to be a set of federal standards coordinating the design of straws and beverage containers so they fit together. Fortunately, there is hope, thanks to the Americans with Disabilities Act. All I have to do is get the United States Access Board to develop and put forth such standards and I’m all set.

That shouldn’t be hard. The Access Board is an independent federal agency that develops and maintains accessible design criteria for “the built environment, transit vehicles, telecommunications equipment and for electronic and information technology,” says its website. I’m sure the Access Board would agree with me that straws are part of the built environment and thus within its regulatory jurisdiction. So then the next step is to just follow the simple procedures.

First, I’d have to serve on a straw-users advisory committee. Access Board fact gathering always begins with the formation of an advisory committee. But in order to be fair and balanced, the committee will also have to include all other stakeholders, such as the manufacturers of beverage containers and straws.

Then, after a an open-ended period of research and internal debate, the Access Board develops a proposed straw standards rule based on our committee recommendations, adds a preamble, charts, graphs and commentary and prepares a regulatory assessment.

Now we’re getting tantalizingly closer to achieving our dream, but there’s still a ways to go. Before our new proposed straw standards can be published in the Federal Register for public comment, the rule and regulatory assessment must go to the Office of Management and Budget for clearance. OMB typically has 90 days to complete its review.

After that, the Federal Register comment period is usually 30 to 120 days. Public hearings may also be held during this period. Those hearings are bound to produce fireworks, with Republicans screaming about how all these new straw regulations will kill American jobs. But we straw-users will stand firm against their public abuse and vilification for the sake of the straw-users of the future. We won’t back down!

The Access Board will then review all the comments and make changes, if necessary. Things can get sticky in this stage because when proposed rules become a hot potato, this is where they often get stuck in a black hole of political inertia forever and ever, amen. But again, I’m confident that straw-users can exert enough grass roots pressure to move the regulations forward. We’re passionate about full and equal access to martinis.

And then, finally, we will reach the Promised Land, but not until about 90 days after the new rules are submitted again to OMB along with final regulatory assessment for review.

At long last, I’ll be able to drink a martini without getting so aggravated that I have to drink three more.

Smart Ass Cripple’s Little Red Book by Mike Ervin is available at lulu.com and amazon.com.

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