Just before Labor Day 2014 we received a call from a man named Brent who wanted to rent a metal detector. Brent was a local businessman and volunteer football coach for a middle school football team. Ritually he removes his wrist watch and ring and puts them in his pocket during practice. He had remembered taking his watch from his pocket to check the time multiple times during the practice. He suspected he had lost a ring while coaching a local middle school football team. His plan was to rent a metal detector and detect the practice field. I told him no problem. We rent metal detectors to people looking for all sorts of things such as lost keys, cell phones, boundary markers, pipes, lawn sprinklers, and of course rings. This ring, however, was not just an ordinary ring. The ring had belonged to Brent’s father it was 14 karat gold and was sat with a large diamond. The father had a tremendous value both sentimentally and financially. We’re not typically open on Sundays. My experience, however, in the recovery of rings is this: There is a direct reflection in successful recoveries and the speed in which you get on the recovery job. Since this was a special item to Brent, we made special arrangements for him to pick up the metal detector that Sunday.
Two days later Brent’s wife returned the metal detector. Her demeanor was enough to tell us they had not recovered the ring. Needless to say, both her and Brent were seriously bummed. Brent had spent several hours scouring the entire practice field trying to find the ring with no luck. Having metal detected the places he spends most of the time during practice multiple times, he was seriously questioning whether he lost his ring on the field or somewhere else completely.
The day after they returned the metal detector I called Brent up to discuss his loss. At this point, I believe he had accepted the loss and decided he would just have to turn it into insurance. Although it wouldn’t be the ring his father had given him, at least he would not take a financial hit too boot. That is when I told him about our recovery services. Having spent the better part of two very hot days looking for the lost ring, I could sense his skepticism when I discussed our services. I let him know that it was not uncommon for people to rent a detector and have no luck finding their ring. Then, subsequently hire us to search only to end in a successful recovery. The reason is experience. There are so many competing signals scattered across nearly every square foot of any public place. Anyone who is inexperienced at metal detecting will investigate every signal because they do not know what to listen and look for in the metal detector. Pull tabs, pieces of “can slaw” (aluminum cans that are hit by a mower), bottle caps, and even targets that most metal detectorists normally want to hear, can create an “analysis paralysis” for an inexperienced metal detectorist. After a few hours (yes, I said hours) the person will either begin losing hope and dismiss signals or spend the whole time chasing signals an experienced detectorist would not give a second’s thought. If the person doesn’t almost kill themselves doing lunges as they investigate each target, they will likely fatigue mentally and abandon the search altogether.
I informed Brent that we had a lot of luck finding rings that other people miss with a metal detector. He was intrigued and decided it was worth it to him to have Scrap Iron and I come out and see if we can find the ring. We arrived and he showed us where practice took place. He explained where most of his time was concentrated. We had arrived after school was out and be finished before practice started. So, with only a couple hours at hand, we were pressed on time. Before we got started Brent asked how we bill for our services. I told him about the Ring Finder’s policy where we work on a “rewards basis”. This means that the person who lost the ring sets the price. After some quick mental calculation on his end, we determined a fair rate and shook hands. The beauty for the ring owner is that if we don’t find it, there is quite often no charge. “I told him our success rate is over 95% and we don’t like to lose…and I suspect the other 5% situations, the ring was not lost where the person may have thought it was.” Brent left to go prepare for practice and we got to work searching for the ring.
I told him, “Our success rate is over 95% and we don’t like to lose…and I suspect in a large portion of the unsuccessful 5% of the situations, the ring was not lost where the person may have thought it was.”
Scrap Iron and I took a quick lay of the land and decided our hunting method. The practice field was laid out in an L-shaped pattern. I would hunt the vertical part of the L and Scrap Iron would hit the lower/horizontal end, criss-crossing where the two met. After about 40 minutes of metal detecting I had found only a handful of pull tabs, some aluminum pieces, a couple quarters and a dime (okay so the money was not anywhere near the type of signal of the ring, but I wasn’t about to let that money just lay there :). Then, in the background I hear a quick little crow whistle, a “kaw kaw” whistle very familiar in my group of friends. It had been used for years to get the attention of one another at ball games, bars, or hunting grounds. When I heard it, I knew what had happened. I glanced at Scrap Iron who was probably 30-yards from me in an area that I had come very close to covering in my portion of the grid but had apparently missed by only inches. He was holding up a large shiny ring and wearing a huge smile. Had he not been there criss crossing the areas where my grid overlayed his, we may very well have missed this ring.
I went over and looked at the ring. It certainly looked like the one he described. I picked up my phone and asked Brent how far out he was. He said he was only a few minutes out. In a humorous tone I asked, “How would you like to come and try to positively identify this ring we found.”
He chuckled, “You guys…”. He was in total disbelief we had found the ring. “I will be right there and I will bring my checkbook!”
He showed up a few minutes later, said it was the right ring and put it on his finger. He was grinning ear to ear. We chatted for a while and told him where we found it. He had thought he metal detected that area. I told him that I thought I did too, but it was Scrap Iron who found it. He thanked us for our work and said he was glad to pay the finders fee for people who were willing to put everything on the line and start a business like ours. Both parties left feeling pretty good about the transaction.