-- One Staten Island woman will never be able to think of meatloaf the same way ever again.
Tiffany Otterbeck, 35, lost her wedding rings after wrapping them up in a paper towel as she was cooking dinner on Monday night. But with the help of some savvy sanitation workers, perfect timing and a little bit of elbow grease, she luckily had them right back on her finger the very next day.
“I worked that day. I work part-time now that I’m back from maternity leave. I was half asleep, half tired,” Otterbeck told ABC News about the evening of the unfortunate accident. “We ordered food all weekend and I didn’t want to hear my husband say, ‘We’re going to order takeout again?’ I decided to make meatloaf, which I’ve maybe made four times since we’ve been married. I washed my hands and put the rings on the wet paper towel, and then I touched the meat and washed my hands again and used a fresh paper towel.”
Otterbeck likes to clean as she cooks and suspects she cleared off the counter mid-prep, mistakenly throwing the paper towels away with her beloved diamond rings still inside.
“I put the trash in the empty foam container of the meat, finished dinner and gave my youngest daughter a bath,” she recalled. “When I went to go grab my coffee the next morning at work, I went to adjust it and I felt my hand and automatically knew. It was a horrible flashback knowing I had thrown it in the garbage.”
Otterbeck immediately called her mom, who was at home watching her two young children, to check to see if the trash had been picked up yet that morning. It just so happened that Tuesday was trash day.
They had just come and gone, her mother told her. Otterbeck’s heart immediately sank into her stomach.
She next called her husband to deliver the devastating news, but only heard silence on the other end of the phone.
“He hung up on me,” she said. “I’m like, ‘Wow, that went over well.’ But his office is only like five minutes from home so he ran out to the car to see if the trash truck was still in the neighborhood.”
The initial search for the precious cargo came up empty.
Otterbeck then called the department of sanitation.
“I was hysterical crying, saying, ‘Sorry, I just realized what I did and it’s just hitting me,’” she said.
Within 15 to 20 minutes she was connected with the supervisor in charge of her specific neighborhood who let her know he had instructed the truck to stop its pickup, park it in a specific, safe area, and instructed the men to not dump the trash or do anything further with the truck.
“He was like, ‘I hope that was some really good meatloaf,” Otterbeck remembers him joking. “I told him, ‘If you find my rings I’ll make a loaf just for you.’”
They planned to meet that very evening to dig through the trash together. She was instructed to “wear old clothes” and to “enlist more help” than just her husband and her. When they arrived, they were met by about five sanitation workers ready and willing to help them search through the pounds and piles of trash.
It only took 45 minutes to find the needle in the haystack among the whopping seven tons of trash.
“I was relieved. I was just so happy,” she said. “I can’t believe I lost them. I hope to pass them down to my daughters one day. It was crazy, and I was so touched by the fact that these men really helped us. They weren’t obligated to help. They went above and beyond and I’ll never be able to think of meatloaf the same way ever again.”