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Mike's Take: A new code to live (and dress) by

Wednesday - 2/1/2012, 12:18pm  ET

Mike Causey, special to wtop.com

WASHINGTON - There are many things that greet and charm D.C. visitors: A low skyline, the blend of architecture, outdoor cafes and of course, our multi-colored taxi cabs. In fact, one of the ways to spot a movie about D.C. that wasn't shot in D.C. is the taxicabs. If the hero or villain keep hopping into yellow cabs, you know it wasn't filmed here.

But that may change.

In what could be a blow to diversity, the D.C. City Council is considering major changes to the taxicab industry. One of them would force all cabs operating in the city to be painted the same color. Right now, there are hundreds of different color cabs ranging from large fleets, like Yellow and Diamond, to one-family, one-car operations.

So why the proposed change?

Either somebody's brother-in-law owns a company that paints and re-paints cars, or it's being done to make it easier for out-of-towners to spot a cab. Apparently a lot of people don't get it if they see a car with a dome light that says "TAXI," and the words "Reliable Cab Company" painted on the side.

Using the same logic, neighborhoods should have the same paint-job so people would know where they are. Buildings in Georgetown could be blue. Every house, store, school and other building in Tenleytown would be gray. Adams Morgan would go all red. Dupont Circle would be a sea of puce.

All drug stores would have an identifying light green cross (like the Red Cross, but only green) like they do in Europe.

The possibilities for conformity are endless.

While the Council is deciding the cab issue, it ought to impose some new rules that would bring more order to our lives. Maybe make us argue less. For example:

D.C. was recently rated as the third rudest city in the U.S. Only New York and Miami beat us out. Naturally, some people from Virginia say it's because of nasty Maryland drivers. Folks from Maryland blame it on Virginia snobs or District clods. Folks in the District say it's the commuters who wreck our image.

So why not require people who live in Maryland to wear blue blazers while in the city?

Virginians could wear purple, and those from D.C. would wear red.

That way, we would be able to spot people who cut us off in traffic, won't stop for pedestrians in cross walks, who litter the streets or who talk too loud in restaurants.

Tourists would get a pass on any dress code rule. It would be hard to enforce and bad for business. But members of Congress on Tuesday-Wednesday-Thursday (the days they are most often in town) could wear clown costumes so we could show them the proper respect.

In the heat of summer, blazers could give way to red, blue or purple head bands for us locals. Politicians wouldn't have to dress like "Chuckles the Clown" in June-July-August (when they are usually gone anyway) provided they wore festive dunce caps while in session. It would further help with the identification process and probably tone down some of those super egos.

This has endless possibilities.

To avoid trouble down the road, married men in the District would be required to have a discreet tattoo on their left wrist.

Cameras would be posted on every street to identify people who carry waste bags when they walk their dog but who only pretend to pick up after their pooch.

Finally, as an act of both courage and humility, D.C. councilmembers might want to wear jail jumpsuits to meetings -- just as a sort of reality check. It might keep some of them out of trouble.

Maybe we should start with that one and, if it works, adopt some of the other code changes over time.


Mike has spent the majority of his life inside the Beltway and has an interesting and humorous perspective that he will share every Wednesday. Mike has spent his career covering the federal government for the Washington Post and now for Federal News Radio.

Mike also writes a daily column for Federal News Radio
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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)