Anna McGuinn really loves her custom-made engagement ring – and it’s even more precious now that her husband, Brian McGuinn, combed through tons of disgusting garbage to retrieve it after accidentally tossing it in the trash.
The ring saga played out on Halloween, when McGuinn, 31, of Margate, Fla., went to her jewelry box to look for her $10,000 diamond. She had handed it to her husband the night before when she was about to shower and asked him to put it in the box.
But the ring wasn’t there. Brian McGuinn, 34, soon realized he must have thrown it away along with a disposable razor his wife had handed him at the same time. And the trash had already been picked up that morning.
“I was saying to myself, ‘OK, no one died, get a grip,’” Anna McGuinn said. “Then I started crying again.”
Desperate, she called Wheelabrator North Broward, which processes their garbage, and was surprised to hear that they had a protocol for the situation and would allow a search operation.
“Obviously my husband volunteered,” said Anna McGuinn, a medical practice administrator who is five months’ pregnant with her first child.
Her husband suited up “like an alien,” she said, pawed through a 10-foot-high pile of garbage with the help of a sanitation worker, Joe Ryan, who knew the pickup had been one of the first of the day, which made it easier to locate the area where a search might be fruitful.
After her husband pawed through feces and carcasses, Anna McGuinn said, “He sees my hot pink frozen yogurt cup that I had requested the night before.”
Then, he spotted the razor. Then, “there’s this silver nail glaring at him in the sludge. He takes the glove off, sticks his hand down and sure enough it’s my diamond.”
He came home, she said, and, “He stuck that stinky sludge-covered ring on my finger.”
She had it cleaned at a jeweler’s but said from now on, “I’m not taking it off anymore.”
Jim Epsilantis, plant manager at Wheelabrator, said the company tries to help the people who frantically call two or three times a year about lost items.
“We’re part of the community,” he said. “I knew how I’ve felt in the past when I threw away something near and dear to my heart.”
In this case, he said, Brian McGuinn was lucky to find the ring in about an hour.
“It was like hitting the lottery,” Epsilantis said. “He was one happy young man.”