San Diego's Airport Won't Allow 'Stinky' Cab Drivers

Illustration for article titled San Diego's Airport Won't Allow 'Stinky' Cab Drivers

Cab drivers in San Diego are upset that they're being subject to body odor tests as one of the criteria that they have to pass in order to work from San Diego's Lindbergh Field. They're saying the rule is prejudicial and discriminatory. What do you think? Should a city hold cabbies to a standard of hygiene?

A 2013 survey of cab drivers in San Diego showed that 94 percent were immigrants, and nearly two thirds are from East Africa. An airport spokesperson said there isn't a standard "smell test" process, which opens up the area of favoritism by supervisors toward their drivers. A driver who is found to be particularly odiferous is asked to leave and change clothes before driving another customer.

San Diego's United Taxi Workers union says the policy perpetuates that stereotype that immigrant taxi drivers smell bad. While the union's assessment may be true, I don't think it's too much to ask a driver to be showered and wearing clean clothes. After all, this person is making an income as a representative of the city, and they don't want a visiting tourist or businessman's first impression to be impacted by body odor.


Bhairavi Desai, executive director of the 18,000-member New York Taxi Workers Alliance called San Diego's policy dehumanizing. Other cities have cleanliness standards for their drivers too. USA Today says Chicago cabbies must be "clean and neat in appearance," and New York's policy is similarly worded.

Top image from Getty Images. Side note, is that Michael Keaton?

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Is there any profession that has customers where personal hygiene isn't required? Hell, almost all professions where you don't interact with a customer still require standards of personal hygiene. None of these companies institute tests, because anyone who cannot maintain hygiene is fired.

So what the hell is in these drivers' minds to make them believe they're special?