RENTAL ADVENTURES !     by Allan Holden all rights reserved 2003

As many of you know, I have been involved in this great hobby since 1968. That was the year when my best friend and I drove to Florida to visit my grandparents. During that visit to Fort Myers Beach, I spotted a man using a metal detector. After talking with him, I had to have one!

When we returned to Michigan, I put on the sales job of all time! I was successful in convincing my father that metal detectors would sell like hot cakes in his camping store. After setting our store up as a Garrett Dealer, it wasn't long before we were selling and renting metal detectors.

Most people who rent metal detectors really have no interest in the hobby. They have a mission and the detector is a tool, the means to an end. Usually, they are searching for their lost car keys or perhaps a property marker (survey stake).

The survey stake people are the ones with the most exciting, blood curdling stories! Usually they are prompted to search for their lot line because they are mad at that "so-and-so" who lives next door! Or perhaps they want to build a fence so they won't have to look at their horrid neighbor. On the other hand, maybe they are the horrid neighbor, and the guy next door just built a fence which they swear is on their property!

I have even rented detectors to both neighbors, on the same day, which can be touchy. In one case, a very ugly shouting match took place in my parking lot!

Sometimes the problem is a lost ring.
    Once a fellow drove up in a beautiful new Mercedes. I watched as he got out of his car. Up-and-up he stood! The man was over 7 feet tall! He lived in Chicago, but he lost a ring when he was swimming here in Michigan. He had been attending a family get-together at Maple Isle, which is a popular picnic area in Paw Paw township. When he was swimming and clowning around with his little nieces and nephews, his very special gold ring with four large diamonds slipped from his hand.

    I fixed him up with a rental, waterproof, detector and sand scoop. After I showed him how to work the detector, I sent him on his way with wishes of "Good luck!" He spent the whole day searching for the ring with no luck.

    Oh yes, he would have found it, of that I'm certain. He showed me what he was finding, and he was clearly digging anything that beeped!

    Every weekend, for a month or more, he came from Chicago to search for his ring. I wanted to help him so bad, but there was just no way for me to get away from the RV sales during our busy season. Each time before he left the shop on his way to the lake, I quizzed him about the ring and where he was setting the detector controls.

    Totally convinced he was doing everything right, and judging by the targets that he was recovering, I felt certain he would find the ring, if he only swept the coil over it. But finally he admitted defeat and after I had heard the rings description at least half a dozen times, I never saw him again. I wished that I had kept a regular book with my rental records but I didn't.

    Someone had asked me his name a few months later and I couldn't recall it. I'm not a sports fan, but after describing the man, my friends all think this man may have been a pro basketball player for a Chicago team.

    A few months passed when one of my customers brought in some ring-finds to show off, and the second I saw the largest ring, it was like looking at an old friend! My heart was in my throat! I wanted so bad to see the ring go back to its owner, but my connection was lost! I could have kicked myself!

"But wait, maybe this isn't the same ring," I told myself. Then I asked, "Where did you find this?"

I normally don't ask my customers that question, it's kind of like asking a fisherman where he caught all of those great fish--- you might as well forget it!

"Maple Isle," was his reply! I took the ring into my hand, I knew this was the lost ring that had been searched for so hard!

I was amazed at the size! My ring finger is a size 11 ½ which means I wear a fairly large ring. This ring, I could put on my thumb and twirl like a hoola-hoop! And heavy! A lot of gold was used in this beautiful ring! Across the flat-faceted face of the ring, running from one corner to the other, were four large diamonds! It was just the way it had been described!

"You're just lucky that I cannot remember the name of the man who lost this ring," I said. "I am sure he was one of my rental customers." I went on to tell my friend the whole story. He was very glad that I lost the connection! I do know this guy. I know him very well, and if the ring could have been returned --- he would have done it!

Here is another tried, but failed, recovery attempt. In this case, the renter was searching for a ring. The ring was lost because of anger and not by accident. You would be surprised how often this happens!

The soon-to-be newly weds were motoring down the expressway near the Plainwell exit. The couple had started arguing several miles before the exit. As the car sped past each mile marker, things inside the car became more and more heated. Finally, she just couldn't take it anymore! As the car sped along at about 80 miles per hour, she rolled down the window and threw her $4,000.00 engagement ring out!

When the fellow came into the shop to rent a machine, he explained the situation. I felt bad for him but I also knew that in order to search for this ring, he would need to break a law. At that time (and I believe still), pedestrians are not allowed to roam along the side of an interstates super highway without special permission.

I had this guy sign a rental- agreement stating that he was responsible for the detector should it be lost, stolen or confiscated! I also tried to encourage him to get permission from the State Police before searching.

I guess that he was afraid they would say no, because he never asked permission, and sure enough the first patrolman who spotted him stopped to escort him off the roadside. Apparently his story was sad enough to cause the officers to look the other way and they allowed him to hunt over and over again.

My dentist's office has windows where you look out at the expressway right where this search was underway. One day his curiosity got the best of him! Between root canal jobs, he called me up and said, "Al, there is some guy who has been searching for something along the highway. Do you know anything about it?"

He wasn't the only one to ask! Customers would see him, even my relatives would call me! Everyone wanted to know what was going on!

Some interesting, howbeit wild, theories soon began to come to the surface; ideas why the ring couldn't be found.

One popular theory was; This light, tiny, ring was thrown from the window, only to be grabbed by the 80 mile-per-hour wind, and instead of reaching the side of the road, it was blown onto the highway. At that point, the ring was run over, then became lodged between the treads on a semi- trailer's tire heading north! The ring was safely lodged deep in the tread, and there it was protected from harm.

Finally as the truck reached the highest point on the Mackinaw Bridge, the little ring came loose. The ring was dislodged as the truck drove over the rough, open-metal grating on the bridge. The ring then dropped through the grating and down hundreds of feet to the water below. As the shiny ring slowly fluttered to the bottom of the Mackinaw Straits, it was spotted by a hungry sturgeon who swallowed it!

Of course, there are those who are convinced that the ring was spotted by a crow, and everyone knows that crows love to add treasures to their nest! (I guess that has actually been proven.) Just be sure you wear a safety harness if you start treasure hunting in the tree tops!

When this customer returned the detector for the last time, I realized that he had rented the detector so much, it would have been cheaper to have bought it! I offered to give him $50.00 credit towards the purchase of any machine in the store. He thanked me, then said, "If I never see a metal detector again, it will be too soon!" Some folks just don't find the pleasure in detecting that we do!

One success story is told by a gal who works in the building just in front my shop, at Westshore Communications. Someone in her family rented a detector from me to search for a ring that was lost.

I know! So far I have related two stories that ended in failure-- that is not usually the case! Actually, in most cases I really do expect the renter to find the ring! Recovery is what happens more often than not.

On this occasion, I was renting a detector to someone who had never held a detector in their life--- strike one! The ring had been lost now for almost two weeks ---- strike two! The ring was in waste deep water at South Haven's north beach--- strike 3,4,5,6,7,------- forget it!

I know of few beaches where the sand moves more, or is deeper, than it is at South Haven! And the area of South Haven's north beach, both in or out of the water, is huge!

All I could do was show them how to set the knobs, how to sweep the detector, then wish them well. But, I held out no hope of them finding that ring.

As they drove away I whispered, "Lord, help them find that ring, you are their only hope!"

Now, don't misunderstand! People do find rings at this beach-- I have found rings at this beach! In fact, it would not have surprised me if they found a ring of some sort! But to find their ring? The chances would be better for winning the lottery!

That same evening they brought the detector back even though it wasn't due until the next day. When the guy came through the door, I asked the usual, "How'd you do?"

With a slight grin he said, "It worked fine. We found it in about one hour--- thanks." Then, just as if there was nothing to it, he turned to leave!

I said, "Now wait just a minute! You say that you found it in just one hour? Let me tell you about the miracle that you just witnessed!"

After explaining a few detector facts, and what his chances were, he really looked astonished! "Wow, I guess someone upstairs was looking out for me!"

Well, that was nearly ten years ago, and I just found out that the family is still sharing this story! It's one that I had almost forgotten!