When driving my friend Florence to JFK airport in NYC (so she could visit her fiancé in Mexico), we missed our exit and were re-routed by our GPS navigation system through downtown Manhattan(!). As if that's not stressful enough... right beneath the Empire State Building, I get a flat tire! (...the NYC driver's worst nightmare!) Remarkably, a very gracious New Yorker offers to help us remove the flat tire and replace it with my spare donut... which, it turns out, was defective and dangerously under-inflated.
But determined to reach the airport so Florence doesn't miss her flight, I carefully continue toward the airport on the shaky spare tire... it was the scariest ride of my life. But somehow, we make it to the airport—where I park my car and help carry in Florence's luggage. When I go back outside, I realize my car is missing... why? Because it was impounded!
Standing outside the airport terminal at midnight and almost three hours away from home, I was utterly stranded without any idea how I would get my car back. I approached a random man and earnestly asked him if he knew what I should do in my situation. This altruistic stranger waited with me, helped me to find a police officer (who gave me the address of the towing company where I could pick up my car), and then (totally unprovoked) offered to give me a ride to the impoundment lot!! (He even refused any sort of financial compensation for his troubles).
So I eventually obtain my car, locate a gas station to fill the spare tire with air, and head home—driving 150+ miles on a wheel not meant to be driven for more than 50 miles. As I drive back through Manhattan, the spare tire starts making strange noises and the car keeps veering to the side; I pull to the side of the road and realize the lug-nuts have come loose. I tighten them and continue on through the Lincoln Tunnel. It was terrifying—but I had no choice but to persevere.
At 3:00 a.m., I finally make it out of NYC and onto the New Jersey Turnpike where I stop to refuel at a gas station and grab something to eat. I return to my car about 30 minutes later to discover... ANOTHER flat tire!!! What are the chances?!—two unrelated flat tires in one night! Frustrated yet amused by the absurdity of the situation, I explain my night to a gas station worker and ask if there is anything I can do.
It turns out this random gas station is ALSO a 24-hour service plaza! (How astoundingly lucky I stopped for food!) So the attendant and his co-worker install two new tires on my car—and don't even change me a service/labor fee! I finally head back on the road and make it safely home to Scranton, Pennsylvania.
This experience was—without question—one of most ridiculous, unlikely, hilariously unfortunate yet remarkably fortunate and life-affirming nights of my life. If it were not for the outstanding selflessness of four strangers that night, I would never have made it home. This entire ordeal was so bizarre that I actually made a video documenting the extraordinary events of my night in NYC (featuring many photographs and videos, including all of the Good Samaritans who helped me that night).