In order to make a surprise holiday visit to our family, we attempted a bold travel maneuver—even by HoneyTrek standards. We would leave Vermont in the afternoon, drive five hours to make our family tree-trimming celebration in Pennsylvania, then wake up at 3am to hop a flight to visit the other half of our family in California.
We were cruising along, watching the Christmas lights whiz by to the sound of Bing Crosby, then at mile 248 of our journey, our tire went flat. As I hobbled to the side of the highway, I had a sinking feeling that my spare wasn’t inflated. Waiting two hours for AAA and continuing on a flimsy donut seriously hurt our arrival time, but we were still determined to make some of the celebration.
At around 9pm, we pulled into my mom’s neighborood, and heard another pop. On the verge of tears, laughter, and hysteria, we looked at our second flat tire of the night and thought, “Could this really be happening? We’ve already used AAA, we don’t have another spare, and there isn’t a single repair shop open between now and our Sunday morning flight. At this rate, we are going to miss Christmas with both of our families!”
Just when we thought that all our efforts had been for naught, a Jeep Wrangler pulled over behind us and a young man called out, “Can I help you guys?” Meet Nicholas Ferra, a 22-year-old on his way home from work at Xclusive Auto Sports, a custom stereo, lighting, window tint and, as luck would have it…tire shop. We explained the night’s debacles and efforts to surprise our family for Christmas and his mind went into overdrive with solutions.
“I know,” said Nick, “We can call our tire specialist on his cell phone!” No answer.
“OK, we’ll drive to my mom’s house and borrow her spare; she has a 16-inch rim, as well.” It didn’t fit.
Last hail-Mary, he called his boss and hatched this plan, “We’ll put your car on jack stands, take off the bad tires, drop you guys at your family’s, drive your rims to the shop, get new tires put on, drive them back here, and we’ll have you moving in no time!”
Was this guy for real? Did he really just ask his boss to open the shop after-hours? Why was this college kid going to waste his Saturday night helping two complete strangers? It all seemed too good to be true, but Nick was our only hope.
He dropped us off, and my family was utterly shocked to see us, and when we told them what just happened, they were further flabbergasted. Two hours later, Nick texted us saying he was back at our car. My brother Ryan and I sped down to help him, but he had already installed two new tires and did a third for good measure. We gave him the biggest bear hug and asked him how much we owed. He said, “No charge; it’s our Christmas gift to you.” Wow. Feeling totally indebted to this guy, I reached for my wallet anyway, insisting that we give him something and he replied, “All we ask is that you pay it forward to someone else this holiday season and to give ‘Xclusive Auto Sports’ a LIKE on Facebook.”
Now Nick had no idea we worked in media or that we had over a hundred thousand Facebook fans, but he was about to find out. The next day on the HoneyTrek FB wall, we posted about Nick’s overwhelming kindness and it sent hundreds liking Xclusive Auto Sports. But that wasn’t enough for us. We reached out to the biggest newspaper in the area and got the story published on the front page of the Pocono Record, furthering their Facebook fan count and boosting their business that winter.
Two years later when Nick asked us to be his job reference for a police officer position, we gave him a review to make a Sargent go weepy. Flash forward to January 2020, he is State Trooper Nicholas Ferra, but we will always call him St. Nick.