Thursday, November 1, 2007

Treasure Hunter

This is Rudy, a treasure hunter. He digs for valuables once lost, hidden beneath the surface waiting to be rediscovered.

For the past weeks, my car smelled of burnt motor oil after long drives. I decided to take it in for a precautionary check up. While waiting for my car to be worked on, I took a walk at a nearby park to pass time. It was there I met Rudy and his wife Mary Jo, a couple of retirees turned real-life treasure hunters. Rudy has only been treasure hunting for about 3 months. For the previous 35 years, however, he had worked for the Los Angeles Unified School District as an engineer, a job that he treasured (no pun intended) because he had so much "fun" doing it. Now that he's retired, he spends his days traveling to various local playgrounds with his wife to play the game of hide and seek.

I sat on top of a wall and watched them work methodically sweep their metal detectors from side to side near the swings. Whenever the detector recognized the presence of a metal substance, it would emit different pitch sounds depending on what kind of metal it is. Whenever that happened, Rudy would take his trowel and gently dig below the surface to reveal what is underneath. Most of the time he ends up with duds, like pieces of foil paper, bottle caps, and soda can tabs. But in rare cases, like the first time he went treasure hunting, he discovered a large diamond ring. Recently, he found a beautiful graduation necklace with the name of the school inscribed. I asked Rudy what he plans to do with it. "I'll put it in the 'lost & found' section of Craigslist," he replied. "Maybe someone will see it, and I'll return it." These are the moments that keep him going long after the last beep has sounded. Then there are days like today when all the pennies and nickels he collected couldn't even get him a cup of coffee at Starbucks. Most of us would simply toss back the pennies we find. Not Rudy. Whether it was a penny or nickel, he stored it away in his pocket. I couldn't make sense why anyone would bother to save such seemingly worthless objects."What are you going to do with all those change?" I asked Rudy. "I don't know... I'll put them in a jar and give it to my grandson," he answered.

"Do you see where it says penny, nickel, quarter, and dollar?" he pointed to the monitor on his metal detector. "It doesn't know exactly what's underneath. It only gives you a good idea of what you might find." When I think about what Rudy said, I suppose that we are all treasure hunters one way or another, searching for that elusive find waiting to be discovered. We may end up with a lump of coal or a diamond in the rough. These are the chances we take. There are no guarantees, only possibilities. It takes time, patience, and perseverance. Above all, it starts with the leap of faith that the best is yet to be discovered.

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