Junk hauler finds $100,000; homeowner rewards him with house
Norman Saleh, owner of highly rated 1-866-XS-Trash in Dearborn Heights, Mich., gets paid to throw things away. Fortunately, for customers of his hauling business, Saleh can’t bring himself to do so indiscriminately.
“We always keep our eyes peeled for something of value, personal or some memorabilia,” he says. “We can’t promise we’ll find everything, but when we do, we want to give the common courtesy of [the customer] saying, ‘Yes, throw that away.’”
So when his cleaning crew pulled a rusty, dented tin box from beneath a bed in Bob Yoches’ condemned childhood home in Dearborn Heights and discovered $100,000 in U.S. savings bonds, Saleh and his team didn’t hesitate to return them.
“He found a number of valuables and papers and stuff that he turned over to me,” Yoches says of the lot, which included an antique silverware set. “Had he not cared, he could have just thrown that stuff away with all the other stuff.”
The Series EE government savings bonds — which have been available since 1980 at a lower buying price than original Series E bonds, but have a longer period to maturity — aren’t like bearer bonds, which are redeemable by whomever possesses them. But Yoches says by returning the bonds Saleh spared him the research necessary to prove that he and his sister were entitled to the bonds their parents purchased in the 1990s.
As a “thank you” for returning the bonds, Yoches sold Saleh the 1,300-square-foot brick ranch home with full basement for $30,000, which covered the cost of the hauling job. “He saved me a lot of exercise with [the government] and provided the resources to pay for his work,” he says.
Saleh estimates Yoches’ decision to sell him the home will ultimately amount to a $100,000 gift after he renovates and sells the property. “The neighborhood is gorgeous,” Saleh says.
Yoches didn’t find 1-866-XS-Trash on Angie’s List, but more than 400 members have since the company got its first review in 2008 on the consumer review and e-commerce website that connects members with reputable service providers. Saleh says he’s come across many things customers didn’t intend to discard over the years, including a crematory urn. “I didn’t know what it was, but I thought it looked nice,” Saleh says. “When I took it to her, she said, ‘Oh my God, it’s my sister.’ She grabbed me and started hugging me.”
Even if his customers don’t want items he recovers amid the layers of discarded collections of a lifetime, Saleh says he will find someone who does. “Some customers would rather donate than throw it away. If it’s salvageable, we’d rather recycle,” he says.