Couple “very lucky” to find wallet

By Kevin Wilson: Quay County Sun

By Kevin Wilson

Quay County Sun

A lost wallet is an unlucky day. A lost wallet in a city garbage truck is exponentially more unlucky.

All things considered for Dallas and Katheryn Howard, their luck balanced out a few hours later at the Tucumcari landfill.

That’s where Dallas, with the help of a few city employees, beat the odds and found his wallet among hundreds of bags of garbage.

The ordeal started on the morning of May 30, when the Howards were doing spring cleaning. Dallas had a pair of pants that he used often for driving truck routes, and Katheryn thought they had gone on one route too many.

“I told him, ‘Those have gotta go,’” Katheryn Howard said. “It was me who told him to get rid of his favorite work pants.”

The problem was, Dallas’ favorite work pants also contained his wallet. By the time the two realized the wallet was gone, the city trash trucks had come to make one of their twice-weekly pickups.

A call was placed to Alex Madrid, streets and sanitation superintendent, and Madrid found out the driver was on his way to the landfill.

“The first thing right off the bat, you want to find out where the trash truck is at and get a hold of the driver. Then you do an assessment (of where in the truck the trash would be). To the person who called you, it’s a very big thing, so you have to keep them informed.”

A while later, Madrid got in touch with Dallas and told him he could meet the driver at the city landfill. The Howards’ residence was one of the first stops for the driver, so Dallas and the driver knew it would be near the front of the dumpster.

After a little bit of searching, the pants — and the wallet — were found.

The Howards are happy about finding the wallet, and Madrid admitted shock. Madrid has been the superintendent since August, but said he’s heard of only two or three cases of people finding things in the last 25 years.

“We were very surprised,” Madrid said. “So was the driver. Usually we don’t find (a specific item) because you have three or four tons of trash and 200 to 300 trash bags that all look alike.”

Also, the landfill is covered at least twice a day, and the morning trash pickup is inaccessible by lunchtime most days. When asked for a probability of finding a wallet in a filled city trash truck, Madrid said he wouldn’t even estimate 1 percent.

“On a scale of 1 to 100, I figured .9, .09,” Madrid said. “We were very lucky.”

That small chance was enough for the Howards, considering everything Dallas had for his truck driving.

“He had his company fuel card, he had his (commercial driver’s licence) in there, he had his (Department of Transportation) physical card, he had his HAZMAT (certification), plus money,” Katheryn Howard said. “He couldn’t have moved (a truck) without it.

“Alex should really be commended for getting on this.”