Meet Mr. Ferrari

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 .

Works Cited:

Stanton, Brandon. "Timeline Photos." Humans of New York. Facebook, 27 Oct 2014. Web. 14 Feb. 2015.

Rodeo Announcer Keeps Things Interesting

By Annette Dawm, WorkStory Ambassador

Joe Scully has worn many hats in his career as an announcer. He is a DJ and has done live commentary for Motorsports and other sporting events. He is also a Race Director, but the hat he is most comfortable in would probably have to be his cowboy hat and his role as a Rodeo Announcer:

“I analyse a performance or competition and find a way to enhance the spectator experience by highlighting storylines as they develop.” Scully says that in most cases, “the competitors are unknown to the general spectator”. So, it is his job to give the crowd a reason to cheer the competitors on “and also [for them] to begin to appreciate the intricacies of what comprises a successful run or ride.”

For Scully, “The ultimate goal is to make this commentary interesting and intriguing for first-time spectators.” He also finds a way to keep things interesting for those who continually come out to rodeos, whether they are participating in, or watching the events.

Joe explains that “the energy” is what he loves most about being a rodeo announcer:

“Through rhythm of commentary and complementary music, one can really bring the energy of the room up and down in anticipation of the action.  It's a challenge to time it right, as there are so many variables, but to be able to enhance a moment and make it a genuine experience, that's a win.  I like to look at the ‘energy’ like how you would drive a race car. You don't redline the whole way around the track, but if timed right, bursts are the difference in finishing at the front, middle or back.  Some of my colleagues will yell for an entire performance, and have hype for every single component – which is ok – but if you want the crowd to stick with you, they can't carry that energy for 3 hours, and neither can the announcer.” Scully warns that announcers can also lose credibility if they give too much “hype” to a participant whose performance is consistently poor.  “So, [you have] to ride the energy and have the right highs and lows. You may be exhausted, but it's exhilarating.”

The path he took may have been “the long path” however it seems to have served Joe well. He was born in the Greater Toronto Area and raised at a roping facility near Guelph, Ontario. He now lives in Grey County but Scully has always been interested in the rodeo environment:

“I was a rodeo competitor and became a rodeo clown in my teens.  I then went to college for Radio Broadcasting, as it was the closest field to being a rodeo clown. [I] eventually got into Radio Sales which took priority over being a rodeo clown.  Soon, I missed the excitement, and then took up announcing as ... another career, and loved the experience.  From there I entered the International Professional Rodeo Association Contract Acts Showcase and won in 2007. [I] then applied for my Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association accreditation and earned it in 2008.” Joe has since worked as an announcer in 13 different states and 4 different provinces.

For anybody interested in this career path, Joe advises aspiring Rodeo Announcers to “get as many gigs as possible, and try something new every time.  I do a lot of junior or high school rodeos, which is my testing ground for sound effects, timing, etc.” In addition, Joe strongly suggests that you “video every second and watch it back. Have the videographer [record] both the action and you, so you can see what you were looking at, and what you missed.  I like ‘eavesdropping’ to hear what people around the camera are talking about.  Often times, it's simple stuff like, ‘her horse's boots match her saddle pad’, which is something that ‘newbies’ relate to. [This] is stuff to highlight to appeal to ‘newbies’.  No performance is the same, learn something or try something every time.”

You can learn more about Joe at www.joescully.com and follow him on Twitter @rodeoannouncer! He follows back and he will also “like” your Facebook page if you like his!

https://www.facebook.com/RodeoAnnouncer

A Really Early Start to a Great Career: Tim’s Story

Tim Wong is one of the lucky ones.  He got introduced in high school to something he really enjoys – work as a machinist.

“I fell into machining because I enjoyed playing around on the mill at high school,” says Wong, adding that it was the father of one of his shop teachers who actually encouraged him to look into becoming a machinist.”

Have a look as Shannon Sutherland Smith shares more about Tim’s story

I've got my degree – now what?

By Dave Robilliard and Brennan Connolly

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Fond memories of their time spent at the DWFoM were vivid in the minds of both Dave Robilliard (BMus'04) and Brennan Connolly (BMus'08) of Duo Percussion as they opened the Fridays at 12:30 concert season in September. Along with the Fridays at 12:30 concert, Duo presented a workshop for undergraduate and graduate music students on entrepreneurship, titled “I've Got My Degree…Now What?” Geared towards musicians, the seminar covered topics such as marketing, networking, touring, sponsorship and creating your own opportunities.

Both Robilliard and Connolly completed their MMus degrees in percussion at Oklahoma City University and upon returning to Canada, the pair reconnected to form a chamber percussion ensemble that has taken off over the last couple years. In fact, the group has gone from playing just a few local education con-certs to performing for national and international audiences. They have also gained sponsor-ship from Pearl/ Adams

Drums & Concert Percussion as well as Dream Cymbals & Gongs. Most recently, the duo was nominated for “Best Percussion Ensemble” in 2014 by Drum! Magazine, in which they finished second to the world-renowned Blue Man Group. 

Duo Percussion is a professional percussion pairing known for their eclectic and high-energy performances. Using traditional and non-traditional percussion instruments, they present diverse programs of classical, contemporary and Canadian music. Duo Percussion is dedicated to expanding the percussion duo repertoire and attract-ing new audiences. “We're trying to change the way that people experience a ‘classical' concert, ” said Connolly. “We're trying to approach concerts in a different way. We have a unique sound palette and niche to fill and we are trying to engage audiences of all ages on a level that makes them feel that they are just as much a part of the performance experience as we are. ”  

The pair has appeared as guest artists with the Bell' Arte Singers, the Guelph Chamber Choir and the Oriana Women's Choir. Other solo appearances include the Ontario Percussive Arts Society's Day of Percussion, Toronto's Harbourfront Centre, New Hamburg Live! Festival of the Arts, Bach Music Festival of Canada, and the University of Guelph.

Not only are they busy per-forming public concerts, Duo Percussion also has a pas-sion for fostering creativity in young people. With concerts and workshops tailored to suit various educational levels, Duo Percussion has been able to help inspire and enhance the abilities of many young audiences by exposing them to a unique genre of music and immersing them in the world of percussion. This helps students realize the limitless possibilities of percussion music and motivates them to develop their exploratory and creative skill set, which helps their musician-ship to grow. Duo Percussion was first engaged to perform at a secondary school in Clinton, ON and with an outstanding response, the demand for the group was immediate. Now frequently engaged by schools throughout the province, Duo Percussion has grown to provincial and national recognition as evidenced by their keynote performance at the Ontario Music Educators' Association Conference and their residency at MusicFest Canada ‘The Nationals' .

In addition to their ensemble performances, Robilliard and Connolly are active freelance musicians and educators in Southwestern Ontario. They perform regularly with orchestras in the region, and together comprise the percussion section for the Jeans ‘n' Classics Rock Symphony. They have performed in shows at the Stratford Festival and the Grand Theatre along with many other local theatre groups. As educators, Robilliard has been adjunct faculty at both Western and the University of Windsor, while Connolly is the percussion ensemble director at Wilfrid Laurier University. In addition, they both direct percussion ensembles at local high schools and maintain active private teaching studios in their respective cities.

In the spring of 2016, Duo Percussion will tour the mid-west United States with concert appearances and workshops in Oklahoma and Texas. They are also taking bookings for the education concerts and workshops. For more information, visit: www.duopercussion.ca.

Article originally appeared in the Winter 2015 edition of Ensemble, the alumni magazine of the Don Wright Faculty of Music at Western University.  Reprinted with permission.

Living a Working Poet’s Life: Holly’s Story

By Holly Painter

Facilitated by Elyse Trudell, WorkStory Ambassador

 If you had asked me as a child what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would have answered "teacher". If you had asked me as a teenager what my plans were after high school, I would have answered "teacher's college". If you had asked me as an early twenty-something what my passion and future career was, I would have answered "teaching". So as my 30th birthday approaches, you might naturally assume that I spend my weekdays in a classroom, standing in front of a group of students discussing important topics and curriculum material, preparing them for the next test, essay, exam, grade. If you assumed all of this you'd be half correct, but I bet you'd never guess my job title: I'm a poet.

Poet? I can imagine exactly how your forehead is wrinkling at the thought. Poetry, as in the boring stuff studied in school? Who would decide to do that as a job? How is it even possible to make any money? And how is that in any way related to teaching?

I am a spoken word artist. I perform poetry, writing and rehearsing my poems before sharing them on stages (and in classrooms) across the country. I began performing at poetry slams (after battling my fear of public speaking), and eventually my hobby became my job. Correct that; my hobby became my passion that pays the bills.

I run the London Poetry Slam, a space and stage open and welcoming to creative writers and spoken word artists of all ages. Right now, over fifty percent of our performing poets and audience members are youth under the age of 21. Poetry is alive and well, and it's all the things you never knew from English class: it's energetic and engaging, it packs a room once a month on a Friday night with 150 excited people, eager to share their own and listen to each other's stories. And youth love it.

The basic messages of spoken word poetry in London are "Speak Your Truth" and "Show the Love". These messages I carry with me as I speak at schools across the province at assemblies or in classroom workshops. The poetry actually becomes secondary to the themes of being open and willing to share personal experiences, and listening and being respectful and empathetic as people do. You would think high school would be the last place you would see this type of thing happen. But I see it every week. Youth relishing the opportunity to share their thoughts, feelings, experiences, and passions with their peers, to write, create, and speak freely, and to snap their fingers in support and acceptance as they hear and connect with what others are going through.

I may not be a full-time classroom teacher, but I wouldn't trade my job as poet/public speaker/arts educator for the world. What I have learned about youth through listening to their poems are the fundamental things I believed about them when I felt the tug at my heart to be a teacher; young people are artistic, articulate, and altruistic. They are passionate, perceptive, and powerful. They are enthusiastic, empathetic, and engaging. They are artists, advocates, activists, and teachers just as much as they are students when given the chance to open up, speak, and share. Often they just need a way to express all of this and someone to throw them the ropes and listen when they take hold.

If you asked me years ago how to help students become all of the things listed above, I guarantee you I would not have answered poetry. Funny what happens when you try something new, ignore doubts or fears, and encourage young people to realize the power of their words.

For more about Holly’s work check out http://www.hollypainterpoetry.com/

A version of this piece originally appeared in the London Free Press on March 6, 2015