BY GLENN PUIT
TRAVERSE CITY — Richard Richmond figured he'd lost his wallet forever.
The wallet disappeared Dec. 5, and left Richmond and his wife Vickie in a panic. The billfold contained Richmond's driver's license, Bridge Card, credit card and, most importantly, his cherished family pictures.
"I was bummed," Richmond said. "I looked everywhere and didn't know where it was at."
But what happened next amazed the Traverse City couple. The Richmonds called their trash hauler, American Waste, as a last resort to see if the wallet somehow wound up in the trash. The call prompted a search by five workers at American Waste at the company's sprawling facility on Hughes Drive.
Sure enough, workers found Richmond's wallet buried in a 72,000-pound mountain of garbage.
"We ripped through all the white trash bags for about 35 minutes," said Earl Sutherland, a route supervisor for American Waste. "Then the loader came, pushed the trash, and there it was. It popped right up."
The Richmonds' ordeal started Dec. 5 as they shopped at a local Save-A-Lot. The couple approached the checkout line with a cart full of groceries only to realize they didn't have Richard's wallet. They were embarrassed and unable to pay for the goods, and asked the clerk to restock the groceries. They then rushed home to search for the wallet.
"We tore the place up," Vickie Richmond said. "Nothing."
The Richmonds called American Waste on a whim. The company called back about an hour later with good — if shocking — news.
"It was really, really good," Richard Richmond said. "It doesn't smell any worse for wear."
The act of kindness left a good feeling with American Waste workers, too. Sutherland said the company regularly receives calls from people who accidentally throw away keys, wallets, and cell phones.
"We don't find their items all the time," Sutherland said. "But sometimes we do."