Oops: North Sea Recycling Center Recovers Resident’s Important Papers

Garbage at the dump
Photo: kanvag/123RF

Ron Fisher, the owner of Fisher Signs & Shirts on County Road 39, had sold his house in Flanders and bought a new house in Southampton. He was going through his stuff at the old house, a happy time, throwing junk and other things he didn’t need into two boxes and saving important papers and other items in a third box. He put all three boxes into the trunk of his car atop some folded-down boxes, and on his way to his shop stopped at the town recycling center in North Sea. There he threw the two boxes of junk and the folded-down boxes into the trash compacter.

You know what happened. At his shop, he opened the box with the important things to check on them—his wedding ring, the deed to his house, his insurance policies, the closing papers for the house purchase, some warranty receipts and other valuables—and found that box was filled with junk.

Hysteria followed. As reported by 27East and other media, Fisher immediately called Ed Thompson, who heads up the Town of Southampton’s Waste Management Division, but the phones were out of service. He then told two of his employees to go down there and see what they could do. Then he called Christine Fetton, the town’s Director of Municipal Works, and explained his employees were coming, and she told him that under no circumstances would they or any town workers be allowed into the compactor. It was a rule.

At that moment, completely coincidentally, Ed Thompson, whose phone at the Town Waste Management Division was not working, walked into Fisher’s shop. Thompson was there to have some signs made. Instead, Fisher, just this side of hysterical, began explaining what had happened, and at that moment Thompson’s cellphone rang. Employees at the transfer center were calling him because some people had jumped into the trailer set inside the giant compacter and were searching through it for something. It was an emergency.

“That’s my people,” Fisher shouted.

The end result was resolved by Thompson. He ordered the people who’d jumped into the compacter out. He then ordered the trailer, filled with compacted trash and garbage, removed and set aside, and another empty trailer put into the compacter and ready to receive more of the townspeople’s trash. The next morning, by Thompson’s order and with Fisher present— Fisher had asked Thompson not do this because he felt he’d caused enough trouble, just forget it—town employees splayed the contents of the trailer out onto the sorting room floor, used machinery to break apart the compacted pieces, and then stepped aside so Fisher, together with his assistant, Sarah Huneault, both in clothes appropriate for the occasion, could search through the trash. They found the stuff. Eventually they even found the wedding ring.

And everybody lived happily ever after.

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