Jewels in the junkyard

Ever run up against the problem of what to do to protect your valuable jewelry while you’re away from your house? If so, you might be interested in the intriguing story of a friend of mine named Cindy and her solution to the problem.

She was traveling to India for the summer and had a lot of preparations, so the safekeeping of her jewelry came at the last moment. She had quite a nice collection of antique jewelry – rings, necklaces, bracelets – that she had inherited from her grandmother and was concerned about keeping them safe.

What to do? It was too late to put them in a safe deposit box, and she didn’t want to impose on friends. Hmmm.

Then she remembered something she had heard on TV on this very subject. Zsa Zsa Gabor told a TV audience that when she went on vacation she often stored her valuables in her freezer, disguised as food. According to Zsa Zsa, thieves never look in a freezer.

Following Gabor’s instructions Cindy wrapped all of her valuable antique jewelry in aluminum foil and placed the packages in her freezer. To remind herself of what she had done jewelry, she visualized that when she put her hand in her drawer for her jewelry she would remember they were in the freezer.

Before leaving, she asked a friend to check the house every week or so while she was gone. Then she flew off to enjoy a long tour of India. The jewelry, the freezer, the foil were in the back of her mind.

Meanwhile, unbeknown to Cindy, things were happening back in Barrington. Although she had tried to make sure all the arrangements were in place, she had missed one tiny detail: She had forgotten to arrange to have her electricity bill paid. So, on a fine summer Rhode Island day, the electric company shut off her service.

When Rhode Island arrived home her friend picked her up at the airport. Everything was fine at the house, she said, even though she had had to do a bit of cleaning up.

What for? asked Cindy. Well, said the friend, when she had gone to the house one day, there was a terrible smell. The friend poked around and found that all the food in the refrigerator had spoiled because there was no electricity to run the unit. So, she said, “I cleaned out your refrigerator and freezer and put everything in trash bags. They’re in your garage right now.”

When Cindy arrived home she was bushed and ready for bed. Then she remembered the bags in the garage and realized that trash day was the following morning. Reluctantly, she dragged herself downstairs to the garage, where the bags – reeking with odor and covreed with maggots — were sitting. She dragged them all out to the street and climbed into bed.

Three weeks later she put her hand in her jewelry drawer and suddenly remembered what she had done with her priceless antique jewelry. She called the Johnston landfill to find out if there was any hope of getting back the lost jewelry.

No, said the man on the other end of the phone. The landfill services 39 R.I. communities and the Barrington trash of three weeks ago was under tons of other trash by now.

“You’d be surprised how many of these phone calls we get,” he told her. “Mink coats, Christmas presents … all gone to the same place.”

So I suppose it’s no exaggeration to say that the Zsa Zsa Gabor method of cold storage has some serious limitations.

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