Four of Kodiak’s landfill employees are the Emerald Isle’s unsung heroes this week after digging through about 2,000 pounds of trash in search of a lost wedding ring on Monday.
“You don’t want to know what we saw,” said Kodiak Island Borough Landfill employee Keith Morin, who helped search the piles of waste. He proceeded to list a slew of things typically found in people’s trash cans, including cat food and dog feces.
Kodiak resident Joe McGee had spent a freezing-cold Sunday night digging through that same waste, desperately hoping to find his white gold wedding ring.
In a phone interview, McGee said he was taking out the trash, and while both hands were in the dumpster the ring just slid off his finger.
“It went zipping right off. I could feel it go,” McGee said.
He said he practically jumped into the dumpster to try to retrieve it, but with the dumpster overflowing with trash, the task was too arduous.
“I had to make room just to get the garbage in there. I had half my body in, my stomach was resting on the opening,” McGee said. “I called my wife and said I’d be a while. She wasn’t mad. She felt bad that I was dumpster diving.”
After 30 minutes of digging through trash and doing as much as he could without fully jumping into the dumpster, McGee finally gave up.
Not to be defeated, he returned home and posted a message on Facebook saying he lost his ring and asking to be contacted if anyone found it. However, he was not hopeful that he would receive a response and began searching on Amazon for $20 rings.
Morin said landfill employees saw the post on Facebook and proceeded to contact Alaska Waste to pick up trash from that specific dumpster as the last stop on Monday’s rounds. When the delivery was brought to the landfill, employees spent extra time carefully sifting through the waste, hoping to find the ring.
“We searched through it and we found the ring. It took about half an hour. There were four of us going through it,” Morin said.
To McGee’s joy, around 1 p.m. on Monday, he received a message from the employees telling him they found his ring. Within 45 minutes, he was at the landfill to pick it up.
“My thought was that it couldn’t hurt, and as it turns out, it didn’t,” McGee said about posting the message on Facebook. “I know we have a great community, but I didn't expect anyone to do that.”
The ring represented many years of marriage to the love of his life, Rachael, whom he had known in church and school in Rochester, New York. The couple moved to Kodiak six years ago.
“Almost 14 years and three kids down the road, we are both so blessed to have each other. We have an awesome family,” McGee said.
Morin was humble about the incident but said he was happy to help. “He was ecstatic,” Morin said about McGee. “Then he wrote the thank you note (on Facebook) that everybody has graciously been commenting on.”
In the post, McGee thanked the landfill employees for searching through all the dumpster’s contents until finding his ring. As of Tuesday afternoon, the post had racked up more than 1,000 likes and 137 comments.
“If we can help somebody out like that, it’s a great thing,” Morin said.