By Annette Dawm, WorkStory Ambassador
Manny Anzalota, a New York City taxi cab driver was dubbed “Mr. Ferrari” (stylized on social media as “Mr. Ferrarii”) by none other than actor, Tom Hanks! On a fateful day in January 2013, The Forrest Gump star took a ride in his cab after Manny was already done work for the day. At the time, Anzalota happened to be wearing a Ferrari hat and shirt, so the actor kept calling him, “Mr. Ferrari”. Several months later, when Brandon Stanton, the creator of the street photo blog, “Humans of New York” got into the cab with Mr. Ferrari, he was told the story of how Manny met Tom Hanks:
“So get this. I'm driving down Park Avenue one day and this guy waves for me, so I pull over and I ask him where he's going. He tells me 74th Street, and I tell him that's too far for me, because my shift just ended, so he says 'thanks anyway' and walks away. But then I think about it, and I start feeling bad for the guy, ‘cause hey-- I got a conscience. So I call him back to the cab and tell him to hop in. And he gets in the car all excited, all animated, and he's talking about all these things. But he's got his cap pulled down way over his eyes, so I can't see who it is. But pretty soon I start to recognize his voice..” (Stanton, 2015).
Manny then called out the name of one of Hanks’ most famous co-stars, “Wilson”, which made the actor laugh. After the chance encounter, Manny picked up several people who were in Tom Hanks’ social circle and every time he would tell them to say “Mr. Ferrari says hello.” Apparently his messages were passed along to Tom Hanks, because eventually word got back to Manny that he was invited to Tom’s Broadway show Lucky Guy! Manny even got to go backstage, which left him feeling like he was the “lucky guy”!
Manny Anzalota has been driving a cab for “about six to seven years on and off” but the past two years have been a whirlwind since meeting Tom Hanks and having the experience documented by “Humans of New York” and other media outlets. The post now has over one million likes on Facebook and Mr. Ferrari has appeared on The Today Show as well as inside In Touch Weekly Magazine. Luckily for us, Mr. Ferrari can now add WorkStory to his growing list of interviews!
In reference to Tom Hanks, Manny never expected things to get this Big! “Sometimes it is very exciting, especially when the people know the story or recognize me.” When asked what he loves about his job, Manny replied, I love riding free through the city [and] engaging with the people in my car, especially the older people and the youngest ones —the kids! They always have the great stories!” Anzalota is now easily recognized by travellers in New York City and “...so it creates great conversation.”
In a similar fashion to “Humans of New York”, Manny has begun documenting the conversations he has with people in his cab on his own Facebook page. With his phone, he uploads photos and videos to Facebook and Instagram to provide a unique experience for his passengers, and a look at New York City through the eyes of one of its busiest cab drivers.
Prior to driving a cab, Manny had multiple jobs which interfered with his sleep schedule: “I worked at Sotheby’s Auction House from 7:30am until 10pm. Then [I] went straight to my other job [as a] security guard for Citibank at night in the Bronx from 11pm until 7am. Then back to my day job. Sounds crazy, I know. I was working 129 hours, seven days a week. I slept at Sotheby's during the lunch break. Then we had an evening break [and] I slept some more. Then at my night job, on my lunch break, I slept more. Yes, it was rough!”
After awhile, he was no longer working at all. One day at the gym, he met up with an old friend who was in the cab business making “great money” and encouraged Manny to do the same: “He told me, ‘You should go take the exam. You would do well with people.’ So I thought about it for a minute, and then took my chance. Two weeks later, I got my license.”
That chance has paid off in many ways. Manny has found that the most rewarding part of his experience as a taxi cab driver has been helping others. For anyone who may be having an issue or problem inside the cab, Manny makes sure that they are feeling better before they leave. For example, he has stopped the car for someone who couldn’t wait to get to a washroom. In case of emergencies like that, Anzalota keeps napkins and sanitizer handy. He has also been able to help others in financial need. “Sometimes I give free rides to those that can't afford it. Also, all the homeless people in the streets... I almost feel like I know them. I help them every time they come to my car.” Manny said that he loves the part when the passenger feels so much better than they did before, as well as “having great conversations with 25 to 45 people a day”.
In terms of his advice for others, it’s the advice that is often forgotten: “Treat people the way you like to be treated. Be polite to people. Don't be judgemental—we never know what people are going through. It doesn’t matter what kind of job you have, just do it right. Ignore ignorance and keep it moving.”
When asked what surprised him most on the job, he replied, “how cruel people can be to you sometimes and they don't even know you. That makes me sad.” Fortunately though, another surprise for Manny has been that “the most generous people are the average ones. Also, how lucky I am that I meet great people. I see celebrities and professionals etc. in my car.” Anzalota is unsure which celebrity was the first to ride in his car, but he said, “It might've been Lauren Hutton or Richard Thomas or Anderson Cooper!” One thing is for certain though, Manny Anzalota will never forget the day he met Tom Hanks -- the day he became Mr. Ferrari!
Along with liking him on Facebook and following him on Instagram, Mr. Ferrari requested that you also like the Facebook page for International Tom Hanks Day, which raises funds for www.lifelineenergy.org .
Stanton, Brandon. "Timeline Photos." Humans of New York. Facebook, 27 Oct 2014. Web. 14 Feb. 2015.