Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Dumpster Diving, Anyone?

If you're familiar with shows like CSI or Law & Order, I'm sure you've watched an episode where they confiscated someone's garbage in order to look for clues. It seems like they always depict it as dumping out a bag of garbage on the table, however, and poke through a bunch of crumpled paper until they find the receipt or airline itinerary they were looking for.

Well, I'm here to tell you that real life doesn't work that way, folks.

In the last 2 years or so, I've dug through the garbage looking for something my wife threw away not once, but twice. The first time I was looking for her wallet (and found it!) on the eve of trash night. That was a close call; she had accidentally slipped it into a shopping bag while fumbling with keys and a baby, and then disposed of it neatly into our kitchen trash. Unlike the TV shows, we throw more than just crumpled paper away in the kitchen garbage can. I won't get into it in detail, but suffice it to say that it was..... mushier than they portray.

In a nutshell, when my wife divulged that she had lost a gift card she'd just been given, I had a good idea that it might have ended up in the garbage. Not looking forward to repeating that experience, I spent a good hour scouring the house with her looking for anywhere it might have been. Not on the counter.... not in the basket we normally put stuff like that.... well, even though it's a waste of time, I thought, let me look in her wallet.

"Hey," I said, holding up a gift card from the same store, "could this be it?" She assured me that it was an old gift card. The search continued. At long last, the only place left to look was the trash. Knowing that the remnants of an outdoor barbecue were lurking out there in 90 degree temperatures, I wasn't too keen on the idea, but I wasn't going to let it go without an effort.

On went the gloves, and out came the bags. I knelt in the back yard and went through every item in there (even those I couldn't identify any longer). I found the cardboard envelope the gift card had come in, but no card. Nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch. Zero. Crap, thought I. All that for nothing??

Upon reentering the house, I decided to again ask my wife about the card that had been in her wallet. She seemed less sure that it was an old card this time, and I pressed her to call the number on the back to check the balance. You know how this ends, right? Of course you do! It was the card we were looking for the whole time, and it had been right where it belonged all along. Sheesh...


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