"Seek and ye shall find."
– Matthew 7:7
There I was, up to my elbows in coffee grounds, junk mail envelopes, empty food cans … and something scraped off a breakfast plate.
Anyone watching would probably see a man going through the garbage.
I, however, prefer to think of it as urban archaeology.
My mission was simple. I was looking for dog meds.
Earlier, when transferring a puppy prescription to another container, I had spilled a bunch of little pills on the floor.
I quickly scooped them up and decided to put them in the trash because they were medicine and I had contaminated them with carpet cooties.
I reported this diligent domestic stewardship to my wife, who looked a bit surprised, then casually mentioned the cost of our dog's medication.
I quickly reasoned that floor cooties couldn't be that dangerous, and neither could be whatever was in the garbage.
That led to my patient and deliberate trash transferal – old can to new bag, one grimy paper towel at a time.
(I would end up recovering 17 pills.)
I wouldn't have mentioned this except I've done this before.
In the past two years I have often gone through dozens of trash bags, ignoring the yuck to save us a buck.
Last summer for instance, a senior family member had lost a dental partial and was distressed that with Sunday church the next day, she would have to face her friends with half her smile missing.
After a thorough search I figured it had to be in the trash.
I hit the bags in the garage … and after about 45 minutes of piece-by-piece scrutiny found the disappeared dentistry, wrapped within a ball of facial tissue someone had misidentified as trash and pitched.
My best day, however, was the day after Christmas two years ago when I found a small wallet, preserving not only a loved one's driver's license, Medicare card, insurance ID and a folded $5 bill, but also a Cracker Barrel gift card that still had $16.23 on it.
I recovered this treasure an hour before the garbage truck took it all away.
My reward was a beaming smile and a long, long hug. I also got to keep the Cracker Barrel card.
I still have it – a reminder that something's always somewhere. Just keep looking.
Bill Kirby has reported, photographed and commented on life in Augusta and Georgia for 45 years.
This article originally appeared on Augusta Chronicle: Kirby: The trash can in the corner might be your home's lost and found