Angelo Pericolo is an admitted neatnik, but his clean streak landed him in a heap of garbage this week.
His wife, Bridget, rarely wears her wedding rings and hardly ever eats or drinks anything in the living room. But on Monday she did both, and then took off her jewelry and left it a paper cup on the living room coffee table.
The ever-tidy Angelo, of course, scooped up the cup and put it in the trash and took it right to the curb.
"I was blaming him, he was blaming me," 77-year-old Bridget told NBC New York. "I said, 'It's your fault, you're always so nitpicking all the time, tidying up the house.'"
Angelo, her husband of 55 years, countered: "Who would ever put jewelry in a cup and leave it on the end table? I had no idea!"
Unable to stop the garbage truck, Bridget called the Parsippany, N.J. Sanitation Department. The garbage crew came back, but the Pericolo's trash was now buried under tons of other garbage.
"He said 'The only thing I can tell you is come to the site and we'll dump it out and start looking.' And that's what we did," Angelo said.
The couple met the truck at the local trash transfer station where their black plastic garbage bag sat somewhere amidst thousands of others.
Angelo and the crew waded in knee deep. "Cake, toys, carpeting, rugs, plasterboard, everything was in there. All tied up in black bags... I woulda swore on my life I wouldn't have found that ring," he said.
"He said, 'Don't get your hopes up.' He was gone a good half hour," Bridget says, "I was praying to the Blessed Mother. He really didn't have any faith, but I kept saying, I will find them. They meant a lot to me, not because they're jewelry, but because of sentimental reasons."
Angelo surprised his wife with the 2-carat diamond and the matching wedding band 35 years ago, to replace the tiny diamond she picked out when he asked her to marry him 20 years earlier. He had just gone off and joined the Marine Corp. and she went shopping with his mother.
"He never liked that ring," Bridget recalled.
But in this case, one man's trash was also his treasure, and Angelo, with the help of a couple of sanitation workers, dug through the disgusting dump and somewhere near the 50th black plastic garbage bag they'd opened, he found the one they'd been looking for.
"When that ring tumbled out, I just couldn't believe it. It's a miracle, it's really a miracle," Angleo said, smiling. "We found the bracelet, her necklace and earrings too."
"He didn't have faith," said his bride..."But I kept saying 'I will find them, I will find them.' It was just a blessing."