Discussion relating to the operations of MTA MetroNorth Railroad including west of Hudson operations and discussion of CtDOT sponsored rail operations such as Shore Line East and the Springfield to New Haven Hartford Line

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  by Terminal Proceed
Joe Cirillo knows all about style. Even on the hottest days, he slips his navy blue blazer over his neatly pressed, short-sleeved, button-down shirt before he heads for work at Grand Central Terminal.

He never forgets to wear a tie.

"I wear it all because I like to go out feeling dressed," Cirillo says with a wink and an Italian accent. "And I like it when others do the same."

As Metro-North Railroad's Grand Central tailor, Cirillo spends his days immersed in navy blue jackets and slacks, olive-green skirts, and starched shirts with paper-thin blue and white stripes, as he tends to all of Metro-North's uniforms.

And employees.

"Taking care of different kinds of people makes you feel good," he says, wearing a yellow tape measure around his neck. "When they look good, I feel good."

Born and raised in the Italian province of Calabria, Cirillo came to the United States in 1955 when he was 18, and worked in garment and uniform shops around New York City.

He was offered a job with Metro-North in 1990, and became responsible for tailoring more than 700 uniforms worn by conductors, engineers, ushers and other railroad employees.

Within months of taking the job, he began to share his sense of style.

"This I designed myself," he says, grabbing a pair of blue pants from a closet holding dozens of its clones.

He opens the pants to show a thin piece of elastic around the waistline.

"I made these for our employees who get pregnant. As their bellies grow, the pants grow with them," Cirillo says, curving his right hand over his stomach. "That way they'll be more comfortable."

He made a blouse to match, which flares at the bottom.

"So they can wear it outside their pants," he says.

The rest of Metro-North's uniforms are ordered from an outside contractor and Cirillo alters them. He uses his own equipment, including a sewing machine and a gigantic pair of scissors that look like two butcher knives hinged together.

There are busy days and slow days in Cirillo's shop. Generally, the rush coordinates with new railroad hires. That's when Cirillo may see dozens of employees in a week.

Dozens of people means dozens of sizes. Hanging in his shop are jackets as large as size 62 and hats that go up to size 81Ú4.

Just for effect, Cirillo grabs one of the enormous hats and flops it on his head.

"This is the biggest I got," he says.

The hat plops over his eyes, and if it weren't for the hard, plastic top, it probably would engulf his head.

Cirillo says he must keep extra clothing in all sizes.

"So if they rip something, I can give them another pair and they can go back to work," he says.

As he explains his system, LaShawn Cherry, an employee working for Metro-North's customer service department, rings the doorbell and asks for a better-fitting skirt.

Cherry's uniform includes a white shirt, an olive-green skirt and matching jacket -- a contrast to the blue and white uniform worn by the conductors.

She hops on a wooden box in front of a mirror and Cirillo kneels down to measure with chalk and pin.

He goes to a back room, passing a wall lined with pictures of the New York Mets and Pope Benedict XVI, comes back out with a skirt and hands it to her.

While she's in the changing room, Cirillo shares a trade secret.

"I try not to tell people what I think looks right on them," he says. "I want them to look at themselves and be happy. That's probably why I've lasted so long."

He's had his share of arguments -- especially with people who don't like to be given clothing a size bigger than they last remember wearing.

"I tell them not even to look at the number," he says. "It's just a number."

Cherry emerges from the changing room with a smile. She stands again on the wooden box and admires Cirillo's work in the mirror.

"You do a very good job," she says.

"And you look very nice," he says.

  by Nester
Where did this article come from?


  by NJD8598
That was published in yesterdays Stamford Advocate. They have been running a series of articles over the past few months about different parts of Metro North's operations.

  by Lackawanna484
That's a nice article. The man obviously takes a lot of pride in what he does.

  by Nester
Just a FYI, it was also published in yesterday's NY Sun. In fact, it was on the bottom fold.