After Robert Nolte threw out more than just his trash for Thursday’s pick up, he wasn’t quite sure if he’d ever be able to right an accidental wrong.
But that’s when a city official and Republic Services stepped in to eventually save the day.
“I had asked a friend to toss some old pants in the trash because they had paint all over them,” said Nolte, “and later, when I went to look all over the house for my wallet, I couldn’t find it.”
Listening to his wife Ann’s advice, Nolte made a quick phone call.
“I got a call early and was told that a pair of pants had been thrown into the trash with a wallet and money in them,” said Johnny Quinones, code enforcement officer. “I originally told the caller that there would be no way to find it.”
Yet, the stars must have aligned just right because generally, there would be more than 12 tons of trash collected. On this particular day, though, there were approximately 3 to 5 fewer tons gathered. Quinones said it worked out that way because Thursdays are typically the lighter collection days.
Nolte informed Quinones that the pants were a green camo with white paint. They had been rolled up and placed on top of the trash instead of bagged up.
So, the code enforcement officer called Republic Services to find out whom the route driver was for the 1200 block of Michigan Avenue. Then, he contacted that person, who decided to take their chances by conducting a search.
Transporting the trash to Wabash, Quinones, along with Republic Services employees, waded through nearly 9 tons of garbage that was poured out on a cement slab. Slowly, they made their way through the pile, eventually locating a pair of pants on the bottom of the stack.
Thankfully, said Quinones, the wallet was still in a pocket with all of the cash as well.
“Everything worked out,” he said. “I give thanks to Republic for letting us search like we did. They don’t have to let us. I’m thankful that we have a great working relationship.”
Because of that relationship, said Quinones, “we found the wallet.”
And upon Nolte’s arrival at the garbage collection site, Quinones handed the wallet back to its owner. “It smelled a little bad and it was a bit wet,” said Nolte, “but I can buy another wallet.”
It’s what was inside that mattered, he said. Before the incident, Nolte had just been to the bank. In fact, “I took out a $100 bill to give to Johnny for finding my wallet. He refused it. Johnny, being the nice guy that he is, wouldn’t take the money. He just said, ‘God will do me better down the road.’”
“He sure will,” Nolte told Quinones, as he put the money back into his wallet before heading back home. “I didn’t think I was going to get it back. I’m so thankful.”