It’s unlikely that “Extreme Makeover: Taxicab Edition” is in the offing.
Since 1996, TLC has issued only 46 summonses to cab drivers for being improperly dressed. The current code specifically proscribes short pants, “body shirts,” cut-offs, swimwear, tank and tube tops. Some might see it as a good thing that the proposed new wording — which the TLC is to vote on today — simply decrees that drivers “must be clean and neat in dress and person and present a professional appearance.”
Most career drivers have no problem with the proposed revisions or having a dress code, even though they’d rather the TLC prioritize safety and economic concerns, said Fernando Mateo, spokesman for the New York State Federation of Taxi Drivers. Hacks already feel burdened by an excess of regulations and requirements, but “when a driver is well dressed, he gets better tips,” confided Mateo. “We want to make the industry something to be proud of world wide.”
Yet, the idea of trying to take the off the iconic tank top cab driver runs counter to all that many New Yorkers cherish.
“I don’t even notice if they’re wearing pants,” said Charlie Mirisola, 25, Williamsburg chef who derided a clothing code as “micromanagement.”
Michael Isif, 45, a clothing designer, did not leave Russia to come to a country that told people what to wear. New York, he lamented, is slipping into Orwellian conformity. “These politicians should mind their own business,” declared Isif. “Nothing should restrict their freedom of movement!” harrumphed the Sandy Hook, N.J. resident.
Choudhary Anwar, 43, a yellow cab driver from Midwood, dressed neatly in corduroy pants and a sport shirt, confessed he longed to wear sweat pants. “I’m a diabetic and this job is not easy,” said Anwar, who suffers from circulation problems. “We drive 12 hours a day ... If everything is tight, it hurts you.”
Melvin Semper, 60, of Harlem, said he doesn’t need a code as he has long embraced the dress-for-success ethic and worn a suit while driving. “The passengers respect me,” he said.
(With Theresa Juva)