Monday, May 05, 2008

Proverbial Needle in a Haystack

As usual, the weatherman was right on target with predicting the weather – completely wrong. The northeast corridor of the United States was expecting a torrential downpour starting Saturday night, which didn’t happen. I thought that I would put the day to good use since I have procrastinated far too long with cleaning up the yard. I have way too many trees surrounding my house that I wish to acknowledge and every year they shower my front yard with useless foliage. Each year I bag up damn near sixty bags of leaves that clutter my sidewalk for weeks waiting for the township waste management experts to come and scoop them up. I came up with an idea of loading my friend’s truck up with rotting leaves and relocating them to the dump ourselves. Brilliant, I know.

And that is exactly what I did! The entire operation couldn’t have gone any smoother. We raked the leaves into a huge pile and chucked them into the bed of the truck. We attached a tarp to the top of the bed and off we went to the dump. We just made it there with ten minutes to spare. However, I completely forgot to bring the rake to pull the leaves out of the truck so I used my legs. In just under ten minutes, we had a clean truck, a neatly folded tarp and growling tummies. We decided to go out for lunch but I wanted to grab a quick shower to avoid walking into any respectable dining establishment smelling like leaf mold and garbage.

About an hour later, I climbed back into my friend’s truck smelling nice and a passing thought of where were my keys came in my head.. I checked my purse with no luck. I jump out of the truck to go hunt down my sweatshirt to find that there was nothing there. I ripped my house apart from end to end. It seemed as that they have mysteriously disappeared.

I began to retrace my steps. Vivid images of memories that were created no less then an hour ago flashed before my very eyes. I watched myself put my keys in my New York Yankee sweatshirt before I started raking. I remember hearing them clank together as I was putting the tarp on. I watched myself move my arm across my stomach that brushed up against the keys on–the–way–to–the–dump. Oh dear god!

I don’t know what came first, the sinking feeling in my stomach or the sheer wave of stupidity. We decided to go back to the dump and with some slight glimmer of hope that they were still open. They close at three and it was now four o’clock but you think that stopped me, absolutely not! All of my keys are on this key ring; car keys, house keys, mailbox keys, work keys – every single key I own is laying somewhere at the township dump – a massive wasteland the size of a small smelly island. I remind my friend not to forget the rake – says the-girl-that-lost-her-keys-in-a-mountain-of leaves-at-the-township-dump.

Ten minutes later, we pull up to the dump that conveniently was closed and gated. I’m staring at the complexity of the metal that was barring us from executing a much needed search and seizure. I thought aloud, “What the hell, I’ll jump the fence.” My friend obviously thought my magnet was on just a touch too tight. Just when I thought my fence hopping days were over, here I go hopping another one. Once I came down from the adrenaline rush, I glanced over just in time to see my friend walk through the fence. I started walking over with a puzzled look on how she just did that. She shouts, “There an opening here!” As I neared, I saw a gap in the gate wide enough to fit a couple people through. “How clever is that.” I said under my breath. “Is this trespassing?” my friend asked. I nodded affirmatively. As we walked over to the designated area, we occasionally glanced up to smile for the security cameras.

As we approached the mountain of leaves, I was hoping that the bulldozer didn’t come and tidy up the area but no such luck. My friend and I stood elbow to elbow scanning over the sheer size of the pile of leaves.

I whimpered.

Notice the height of the Garbage trucks to the leaves.

She sighed.

We sure as hell weren’t there for the ambiance so we got started raking the leaves. We scraped thin layers of leaves off with the hope that my keys will miraculously appear. This got old quickly because I started raking like a mad woman and it had started to rain. We discovered some sticks that we raked up but it was a long shot since I live in a town where the population is 86,000, it could have been any ones sticks in that pile. Fifteen minutes later, a crazy thought of using the magnet on my cochlear implant to draw the keys out popped in my head. I quickly dismissed that idea just as another one popped in my head, a metal detector! We mutually agreed that we were better off getting a metal detector; it would have paid for itself if it found the keys. We packed it up and went back to the truck where I was half expecting the entire police force outside with guns drawn at two women brandishing rakes. Much to our relief, no one was there.

With my friend behind the wheel, we were now en route to the local Radio Shack! On the way there, we were shooting the breeze but all of the sudden she tensed up and closed her eyes as if she was about to get hit by another car. I braced up as I quickly looked over to see a
flock of pigeons about to broadside us. They narrowly and when I mean narrowly missed us, I mean narrowly missed us. We laughed like giddy little girls at the irony of being broadsided by pigeons on the way to Radio Shack to get a metal detector to find my keys in a mountain of leaves at the township dump. This type of thing happens all the time.

I’m no stranger to Radio Shack since I worked there at one point of my life. I walked in and proceeded to walk right to the metal detector section. There was nothing there and I started acting like a mad woman who just got her period running through the store looking for tampons. A store associate finally came around to ask if he could help me. I tell him I am looking for a metal detector and his response was, “We don’t have any in stock.” My inner voice shrieks, “
are you kidding me?!” I clamped my jaw together and asked if he could find a store that does have one in stock. He tried selling me this idea that he could have one by Monday. I shook my head no and told him I needed it by tomorrow, no later. The dump was closed tomorrow and it was my only chance to find my keys before they meet their untimely demise Monday morning. He found a couple of stores within a 45-minute drive that had one in stock. We left with the list in hand and the unfortunate news that the closest store was closing in five minutes.

I wasn’t too keen on driving forty five minutes so I decided to call all the local stores; Circuit City, Best Buy, Sears, Target, Costco, Wal-Mart, Modell’s, Sports Authority and none of them carried metal detectors. I don’t get it, metal detectors were all the rave one time and now, no one carries them! We decided to head home for the night until I get a phone call from my mom telling me that Bob Kislin’s store has metal detectors in stock. We turned around and zoomed right there.

I aimlessly walked around the Bob Kislin’s store until I found the aisle harboring the metal detectors. I eagerly approached the boxes when the bright orange price sticker caught my eye– $999. I gulped and walked towards a guy behind the counter that was feverishly cleaning a Smith & Wesson. I put on my best face and giggled nervously as I said, “Is there a more affordable metal detector in stock because I am not trying to find pieces of the Titanic here? Heh-heh.” He pointed towards the floor. I thanked him as I jogged to the aisle and looked at the price sticker on the next box – $499. I walked out, went right home and sulked.

The next morning, I become an educated consumer of metal detectors while I was waiting for Radio Shack to open. I researched the brand that was sitting in store just waiting to come home to momma! Everything looked good until I got to the section that read: Maximum Detection Depth: 6”. I forecasted that it was going to be a long day if that all it could do, six measly inches.

My friend brought the metal detector since she always wanted one and we headed back to the scene. We trespassed once again. I reminded her it was only a misdemeanor. We didn’t have time to smile for the security cameras, we just went right to the mountain of leaves. We conducted some tests involving a soda can with leaves on top of it to get an idea of what the depth was. To my surprise, it was much more then six inches. :)

So here we are, on a beautiful Sunday afternoon, raking and sweeping the leaves at the local dump. At one point, I thought I needed grappling hooks but we uncovered a section where the sticks looked oddly familiar. We swept over the entire area until we hit this one spot up against the concrete wall. It emitted a beep. My heart jumped. I swept again and it emitted another beep. I held my breath because there was something righteous fermenting in the garbage truck right behind us. I took the rake and gently scraped the area where it was beeping. I saw one of my white grocery store tags peek out from behind a leaf. I scrambled ten feet up this mountain and grabbed what was my keys!

I can’t believe I found the proverbial needle in a haystack.


The Royers said...

a really big needle! good job, btw is that the toms river maintenance facility? my folks lived right around the corner from that.

Jennifer said...

Abbie...I have NEVER IN MY LIFE!! Girl!!! I'm SO glad you found them...unbelievable!!! This is the story of the year, dear!!!

Abbie said...


That is exactly the place that I spent this weekend crawling around in UGH! I can probably walk to your parents house. There is a lot of farm houses back there! This is such a small world! Now you didn't grow up in Toms River did you?

Abbie said...


I can't even make this stuff up. No one at worked believed me until I produced the pictures LOL! I couldn't believe that I found them! I almost did a backflip off the mountain HA :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Abbie,
What a great story! I really enjoyed reading that...and I could see myself in the same spot. ;-)

Anonymous said...

what were you thinking girl *smelly stinky* ROFL i would be sitting here with a hose when you do come home smelly and *whosh* you get free shower !!!!!!

Tom Hannon said...

Ya know Abbie, ya could have added another crime to your new criminal resume by hot wiring whatever made that neat BIG pile, spread the muck out until - KEYS! Maybe not crushed & mangled too bad! One crime almost always compounds another, but you had no "criminal" intent with either, no jury would convict!

Anonymous said...

Good post! Join Fear Factor! That is funny! So sorry you had to go through that. I had to go in a dumpster full of crap to find my plane ticket once. It was half full. YUCK! And I found it. Makes you feel good, huh?

Valerie said...

A word - next time hire someone to get those leaves!!!!!

I told you, you would find them.

Great pics I imagine the smell more than anything.


Karen Mayes said...

FASCINCATING story! I was holding my breath, hoping that you'd find the keys...which you did, much to the readers' relief!


Gary said...

In a situation like that it always seems to help when I hear other peoples stories of the not entirely bright things they have done. My biggest blunders have centered around the washing machine. I've spun and rinsed everything from notes, a security card, a paycheck, an ipod and my phone....2x! You can't imagine the sinking feeling you get when you realize what those little white pieces of paper in the lint catcher are. Glad you found them at least...

David said...

Abbie! What a cool story. I read it like a mystery novel where two explorers find the last treasure buried in the tombs of Egypt. So glad you found them, but you what I loved? Your comment "...My friend obviously thought my magnet was on just a touch too tight". You having given a fellow CI buddy some new material for my bone head moves in life. Thank you

Sam said...

Um....did you return the metal detector for a refund claiming it was too loud??? :D
What a neat story! Too bad Discovery Channel wasn't there with Mike Rowe.

Abbie said...


I have a habit of getting myself into these type of things all the time but it is going to take something huge to top this one lol!! Are you going to go to HLAA? :)

Abbie said...


LOL! The first thought that ran through my head was that I was going to get fired :) I was NOT giving up this gracefully. When I got home I took the longest shower with tons of scented candles to bring some harmonious balance to my nostrils.

Abbie said...


Hot wiring doesn't sound like a bad idea but I am sure I would have messed up on trying to do that. You probably would have seen a nice little banner on the CNN channel "Bionic Barbie sets leaves on fire at township dump."

If the men in blue show up at my door in the near future, I know exactly who I am retaining for counsel! :)

Abbie said...


You just made me fell sooooooo much better! I couldn't imagine crawling around in a dumpster. I don't think I could join fear factor because they like to eat bugs and I am hardcore entomophobic (i hate bugs). I could see me passing out just to get out of there. If the ever nix that part of the program, I would so do it :)

Abbie said...


I love the fact that you are so incredibly optimistic! I tried calling a couple places to have them come do the yard for me and they wanted 50 bucks.

The hell with that I say! I rather keep my fifty bucks and get a work out LOL!

Abbie said...


Oh my! I can't even fathom putting my paycheck in the wash! I'm big on washing money though but I tell myself that I am doing myself a favor since money is so dirty :)

Abbie said...


If I brought the metal detector, I would have taken it back muttering some crazy stuff about interference with the CI. :) My friend brought it because she wants to turn into one of those treasure hunters at the beach. :)

Laurie said...

Oh my goodness! I would have gone NUTS! I have my "life" on my keychain, too! And am always losing my keys! You are one very lucky gal!

Cyborg Queen said...

Oh that's way too funny!! You know, I have a metal detector! I would have given it to you in a snap! :-)


Cyborg Queen said...

BTW - that's a big plus why I'm glad that we're living in Vegas. No damn leaves to rake. LOL!!!

Anonymous said...

I am SO impressed! That's what I call perseverance. :-)

sara said...

I lost my wallet in Barnegat Bay when I was invited to go out sailing on my lunch hour one time, but I didn't even TRY to find it! And I once Thought I lost the keys to a rental car skiing, but they turned up right after we had the locksmith come and make a new one.

Debbie/Steve said...

I've thrilled you found your keys. Have you heard of Key Finder? They are great to have.

Unknown said...

Add this to your resume working for CSI LOL. Great story and the pictures really helped.

I love it and I love your attitude.


Anonymous said...

LMAO!! What a GREAT story, one of best stories I have ever read. I can't get over it, he he.

So glad you found keys.. whew!!!

LMAO.. I still can't get this picture out of my head thinking of you crawl into the pile looking for keys. Seriously, I still can't believe you actually found cuz I don't think I would have. Glad you did, though!!

Oh Abbie.. what a story. It should be in the book.


Cotter Pen said...

Great story. Be glad it wasn't in fact your CI BTE device in the pile of leaves. Mine has dropped a couple of times. I knocked it off once getting out of the car. Now my nightmare is seeing it fall through the bars of a sewer drain along the curb.

Kim said...

Oh my God-- What a great story! I about died when you said you thought of using the magnet on your head. So glad you found them!

VBnBama said...

whew! I just read it for the second time! what luck, and no one was arrested!

Alex said...


I laughed...and laughed. So funny! It is funny how I manage to have a key story about locking myself out, and then you have a key story of losing your keys.

Trying to copy me?!

Pic are great asset to the blog and very funny! Glad you found them, I of course laughed as you told me this story online haha

Great times!


Sheila said...

Unbelievable! What a riveting story!! Abbie, your friend is a true friend to stick with you on this caper. She's a keeper.

BTW, my grandparents lived in Toms River!!

Shari said...

All's well that ends well. :)

Here I was thinking that maybe you ended up finding it under the truck seat or something. LOL.

Glad you got them.

BTW, Yes, I have heard of Cockeyed. Been itching to read it, but wanted to wait till classes were over. :)

Abbie said...


I was going NUTS!!! Lets just say I wasn't the nicest person to be around that night :)

One month to go then Reno!!

Abbie said...

Oh Deanna!

You might want to leave that metal detector with me before you leave for Las Vegas :)

Abbie said...


I can't believe you lost wallet in the Barnegat Bay! I wouldn't have gone after it either, do you have any idea what the fishes do in there? ew.

Have you ever gone to the Barnegat Lighthouse on the island?

Abbie said...


In the back of my mind, I am sure I have heard of them. I think I saw them at a Tuesday Morning store. I think I just might get one :)

Abbie said...


I looooooooooove all the CSI shows! That is precisely where I got the idea to get a metal detector I love your attitude too :)

Abbie said...


I bet it isn't a pretty picture playing in your head :) I still can't believe that I did that either! I mean, ME, who won't even touch dryer lint dug around in all of that. :)

Anonymous said...

That was a fun read. I even took off my CI to test its magnet on my keys. ;-) Congrats on successfully finding your keys!


Ulf said...

No words... Just LOL! :-D

Abbie said...

Paw Paw Bill,

Thank goodness it wasn't my CI! If the cops showed up I would have had some trouble explaining how I lost my CI in a pile of leaves :)

Abbie said...


The thought was seriously running through my head but I could have just pictured myself getting scared since I was already on edge and dropping into that mess. I opted to keep it attached for obvious reasons :)

Abbie said...


I suppose this is what I get for laughing my tail end off at your little key locking episode :)

Abbie said...


She is a true friend in every sense of the word. I can't tell you how many times she has saved me! She is one of the most dearest human beings I have ever met in my life! I love her to pieces :)

Geo said...

I kept waiting for the "and then we saw a german sheperd coming right at us..." Of course your luck would have you "just happened to have a dog treat in my pocket" and you and the dog are best friends.

Abbie you have the funnest life!

Life is good!

AOB said...

Incredible story about the keys! it is great to read your comments/ see video about your activation experience. I have a new video up that you might like of Lily speaking for her older sister on

Is there an easy way to caption videos?

Unknown said...

hahahahahaha, lived for this blog. Made my day! You are such a cooooool chick! Cover Girl to Dump Queen...gotta love that. Jodi

C. said...

OMG! I can't believe you found them! You are AWESOME!! I would have been curled up in a ball crying!!

Rod and Lynda said...


Your story is so true. Searching is our way of life, we were born for it. I thought I was reading a modern day Bible story (lost coin, lost sheep). Your lost keys express it so well. What happiness in finding that which was lost! I’m happy for you.

Unknown said...


Wow girl, you are so lucky. I loved your story and could picture you doing this. I was on the edge of my seat hoping you would find them.

I'm glad things are going so well for you. You are truly amazing! Let's get together soon. We have so much to catch up on and it's been way too long. I miss you!



Anonymous said...


I did one just about as bad years ago when I still wore hearing aids.
This was in Iowa and in the wintertime.

I was in business school at the time and after class had gone to meet my aunt who worked there in Des Moines a few blocks from the school.

Making a long story short I took one of the aids off as it was COLD and thought I put it in my shirt pocket. Arrived back at the apartment and uh oh... By then it was dark and no way to look for anything.

Figured I was out of a hearing aid. (sigh) Anyway I figured it was gone but had to check nevertheless. So next morning left for school early and went back to the place where I had been talking to my aunt and lo and behold there it was sitting on top of the snowbank and no one had picked it up or anything. So put it back in the pocket to warm up before putting back on and it worked! Whew
(See you in Reno)