A nice day, Sunday, and we are having a relaxing lunch, when I get the call from a friend of mine, Steve. He has a woman of Chinese descent asking to rent a detector to find a lost ring in her back yard. She has no idea how to use the machine, though, and he has doubts. Steve mentions the members of the Central Florida Metal Detecting Club offer a free service and he calls me. My wife and I break off from lunch and head home, 10-minutes away, to load up our gear and head about a few hour's drive south to the location where the ring was lost.
We arrive amidst a crowd of people, also of Chinese descent, speaking Chinese at us from all different directions, as I unload the gear from the car, Patti meets the young lady who lost the ring, who speaks excellent English and quickly fills us in. According to her, she lost a very valuable gold ring in her back yard, and wants to find it with a detector, and thanks us for coming. While I continue to unload the gear Patti walks into the back yard with the woman to scope out our work area. I hear Patti yell "OH MY GOD!" which launches me practically over the roof, getting to her quickly.
As I skid to a stop, an odd scene unfolds as Patti and the young woman stare into the back yard. The area consists of loose white gravel scattered amid several sets of circular concrete tables with a concentric ring of concrete benches surrounding them up on a long concrete patio slab. On the far right of these backyard patio sets, a 7-foot long, 4-foot wide and 3-feet deep pit, more than large enough to bury a casket, had been dug, THROUGH the concrete patio with a steel mining pick AND was still being enlarged by a Chinese man of small stature swinging the pick like a small diesel-powered machine!
Picking and Not Singing - Tearing Up a Patio
The lady says, nonchalantly, that her father was helping to find the ring. Patti and I looked at each other. I asked her if she still wanted us to at least scan the area, or we could just depart. She insisted we scan the area for her "ring" as I began to think we may have been hoodwinked here, and maybe the language barrier, with us speaking no Chinese, and her speaking English, but maybe not as well as we thought had brought about a misunderstanding between us.
She said something to her father in Chinese as I picked up my Minelab E-Trac. Her Father glared at me as I approached the "pit" to get a few scans in. Just before I got there, he jumped back into the pit, cutting me off, swinging his pick again, narrowly missing my head by an inch or so! As he swung again, I grabbed the oak handle just before the pick buried itself in my forehead and pulled upward, almost lifting the guy off his feet. Now relieved of his pick, he quickly turned and started yelling into my face. I usually don't tolerate this sort of thing very well, and before things could escalate further, his daughter, now also yelling angrily, jumped in front of me confronting him. During the melee, her mother had arrived with a tray of cold drinks for everyone, and now also jumped into the pit, yelling at her husband for his antics.
"I don't like Americans very much."
Patti whispered "What the hell is going on here?" as I was thinking of the delicious hamburger I had abandoned to be here to help. I was having second thoughts. His daughter apologized and said that he said he didn't like Americans very much. I counted backwards from 10, calming myself down. I told her we would gladly pack up and leave, and hope she finds it somehow. Then something happened I did not expect. With that she started crying, and hugged Patti as she sobbed, almost like a little kid, not a 23-year old woman! Patti was dumbfounded as her mother and father just stood there and watched. I told her to come out front, and her, Patti and I went out to our car, she sat in the back seat, and Patti and I in the front...I fired up the engine and air conditioner and we talked.
Now the story became clear-er. She was not looking for a ring...she was looking for a 24-karat gold filled jewelry box that went miss almost 3-years earlier. The delicate question was what did she mean by "...went missing?" She dried her tears and said, in perfect English, her father had come into her room and wanted to "see" her jewelry box. She handed it to him and that was 3-years hence. Several days ago, she was going on a date, and went to look in her jewelry box for her favorite ring, and realized her father had never given the box back to her.
Buried, hidden or stolen?
She went and asked him for it back, but he had gotten angry with her and said he did not remember what he had done with it all those years ago. Convenient, no? Then she had gotten angry with him and her mother got into the mix and finally her father said he now remembered. He had put it in a cabinet, in the garage, for safe-keeping. She spent an entire day unloading heavy stored boxes and equipment away from the cabinet, managed to open it and unload it. You guessed it...no jewelry box. Here we go again. Once again confronted, which I guess does not happen to him much in Communist China, he gets angry and says someone must have moved it someplace else! How much simpler could it be???
Pleading with her mother, she stepped in once more and brought her wrath to bear on her husband, who seemed to have less success in fending off his wife, than his young daughter. Finally, he admitted, he said, that he BURIED it in the back yard to keep it safe...yea, that's it...buried it...and 3-feet deep at that! She said when he found out that we were coming, and not really understanding the technology involved, he had rushed out with the pick and in two and a half hours, had torn the patio to shreds..making it impossible for us to hunt. Not only that, it had originally been an in-ground pool leaving tons of iron re-bar all over the back yard.
I explained to her, we could not run a proper hunt, as we had come to find a ring laying in the grass, not a 3-foot deep box of 24-K gold jewelry, which I doubted was there anyway. We felt terrible for her as we left, and felt even more terrible she had a father who would apparently steal his daughter's valuables and then become angry with her for asking for it back! A sad adventure for all, except the thief.