Lost Engagement Ring, New Hero at Waste Management: A Happily Ever After

You might (rightfully) wonder why I decided to write about a lost object and a newfound friend at the City of Toronto’s Solid Waste Management Services in a blog that’s ostensibly about living with chronic illness(es). I asked myself the same, or at least a related, question. OK, questions—plural—since my brain isn’t good at stopping once it’s detected a possible problem with something I’m doing or have done. Is this important? Will anyone care? Can I relate this to epilepsy in some way? A self-reminder that this is my site and that if I want to devote an entire post to a description of the exterior of a potato I can was enough to convince me to forge ahead. (That’s definitely a keeper of an idea. What this blog needs is more tuber-themed content.)

Wielding this much power, even if in the tiniest of domains, is truly exhilarating.

Back to the topic at hand. My rings have been loose for a while now. They’ve never been tight—I probably should’ve had them resized long ago—but for a month or so they’ve freely moved up and down my finger, sometimes past the knuckle. Ever the responsible ring wearer, I started to remove them before bathing and before washing my hands. There’re few things worse than losing a valuable item down the drain, after all.

In fact, I took them off to shower two Saturday mornings ago and only remembered to put them back on as I was leaving the house to mail a card to my grandma. The mailbox is just around the corner, but I walked an extra few steps to throw a wrapper that was in my pocket into a nearby street bin rather than waiting to put it in a garbage can at home.

This decision proved fateful. Almost as soon as I had deposited my small piece of trash, I noticed that my finger felt a little funny. The truth quickly sunk in when I inspected the relevant appendage: my engagement ring was gone. Cue panic.

I understood that there was a small chance that it had slipped off somewhere else or that it was still sitting on the shelf in my bedroom. My gut was telling me, however, that it was now inaccessible in that locked garbage bin. Making matters worse, this City of Toronto garbage/recycling receptacle was of the kind that has flaps, operated by a foot pedal, that cover the openings. Attempting to spot the ring myself was out of the question.

I managed to make it back to my apartment without having a heart attack and told my husband what had happened. He was remarkably chill about it, possibly because he lost his wedding ring shortly after our wedding (while we were on a beach trip in NC, he emerged from the ocean with no ring on his finger). His subdued reaction was likely also, maybe even more, attributable to his knowledge that my instinct would be to ruminate about the missing ring for months, years. It was therefore in both of our best interests to take the first steps toward moving on as quickly as we could. But I’d worn that ring for almost a decade. It held real symbolic value for me, I liked looking at my left hand and seeing it there, and it had even become a crucial part of one of my nervous habits (fiddling with my jewelry). I didn’t want a new ring; I wanted my ring. Perhaps most crucially, I have OCD, and the obsessing had already begun.

With the self-awareness that it wasn’t realistic to think that I’d be able to calm myself down enough to be rational, and the realization that I wasn’t willing to release my ring to the universe without putting up a fight, as my husband suggested I should, I did what I often resort to when the situation in question calls for concrete action: I telephoned my mother, the queen of getting what she wants. (I use the phrase “getting what she wants,” in this case, with the utmost respect and admiration, and with the caveat that I don’t mean to imply that this quality affects all areas of her life—indeed, she’s adept at sussing out when to employ her superpower and when not to, and she’s vulnerable to the same mysterious forces we all are. But c’mon: this woman is upgraded to business class while travelling with a ticket in a category that shouldn’t be upgradeable a truly impressive percentage of the time.) As expected, she delivered swift and practical advice: contact the City of Toronto, pronto.

I swear that would’ve occurred to me, like, five minutes later.

And so I phoned 311. The operator who picked up was very helpful, taking down my information and the location of the trash receptacle, telling me that she would get in touch with a supervisor at Waste Management, who would in turn let me know when a worker would meet me, and, most impressively, not letting on if she thought I was ridiculous. Ten minutes or so after we hung up, I heard from Waste Management; twenty minutes after that, I got a call from an employee who verified where the bin was and informed me that he was on his way and would be there in fifteen minutes.

I trudged to the site of my distress and anxiously waited. The truck neared. My heart began to pound. I was 98% sure, or maybe 95% sure—my confidence was decreasing by the second—that the ring was in that bin, but what if I’d lost it elsewhere and the Waste Management employee yelled at me for wasting his time? #worstcasescenariothinking

It turns out that he was the nicest, most helpful guy ever, and following ten drama-filled minutes, we—well, he—found my ring. Though it was touch and go for a while there (it seriously seemed as if all hope was lost; he had searched through the trash very thoroughly with no success), he didn’t give up, and when he finally spotted it, he seemed genuinely happy for me. With the ring safely in a napkin clutched between my hands, and blabbering incoherently, I tried to communicate how much I appreciated his help, thanked him approximately twenty-five times, and went home, where I promptly wrote an e-mail to 311 commending everyone involved, but especially Soni, the Waste Management guy, for their service.

On the very off chance you’re reading this, Soni, you really are the best. My ring and I are both truly grateful to you.

My wedding ring and engagement ring now live in a jewelry box. I’ll decide whether to get them resized or to wait until my fingers grow before wearing them again; in the meantime, I’m not taking any chances.

Which is evidence, I suppose, that I learned/was reminded of some important lessons from this experience. First, shrinking fingers shouldn’t be ignored. Second, the City of Toronto isn’t always as dysfunctional as the media would have you believe. Lastly, when the situation calls for practical action, the best thing to do is call my mother.

I will now do my best to interact with city garbage bins only from a safe distance.

2 thoughts on “Lost Engagement Ring, New Hero at Waste Management: A Happily Ever After

  1. My gem is sitting just a hair loose on my ring. I thought I was being paranoid by not wearing it for fear the gem would pop out, but your story has convinced me it shouldn’t stay in its box until I can find a jeweler who handles antique rings to reset it. I recommend getting some costume jewelry for now. After just a couple of years of wearing my ring, I feel antsy without it. I needed a replacement to fiddle with until it’s fixed. After a decade…you’ll probably feel lost without a “ringer” for the time being.

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