Better than money

Jangling change helps Abington selectman find ‘irreplaceable’ ring

Jim Connolly often hears loose change rattling in the bottom of the washers and dryers that he picks up as part of his scrap metal recycling business. Often he ignores it — the time it takes to take apart the machine and fish out the coins often isn’t worth the few pennies and nickles he finds. 

Tuesday was different. The Maytag dryer Connolly picked up from Kelly Tsiantoulas’ Rockland home rattled like a jukebox when he dropped it in the back of his white utility van. At his next stop he shook out more than $6 in change. Even more came out when he tipped it over at Spiegel Scrap Metal in Brockton, upping his haul to $25.97.

But when he looked down the chute in the back he saw the real prize.

“I said, ‘That looks like a ring, but it’s probably just a washer,’” Connolly recalled saying as he pulled it out.

His wife and business partner, Joyce, immediately recognized the significance of his find.

“That’s her wedding ring,” she told him.  

Three years ago Tsiantoulas was admitted to the hospital with a medical issue. At the time, she gave her engagement and wedding rings to her husband, Arthur, to bring home. When she came back home, she found her engagement ring in the laundry basket, but not the wedding band. 

“We kinda didn’t talk about it for awhile,” Tsiantoulas said Tuesday with a laugh.  

Tsiantoulas was in the Home Depot parking lot when Connolly called her with the good news. Immediately she started crying. 

“I felt bad I made her cry,” Connolly added. 

The news was also a welcome relief to Arthur, her husband of 19 years. “He was ecstatic,” she said. “He said, ‘I knew I didn’t lose it.’”

Tsiantoulas said her husband originally planned to drop the dryer off at the Rockland Recycling Center, but she remembered seeing Connolly’s name on Rockland Hub, a town Facebook group, who would pick up appliances and scrap metal and recycle them. So she reached out to Connolly, he contacted her back immediately. A couple hours after Connolly picked up the dryer, he was back at Tsiantoulas’ house dropping off something even more valuable.

“How lucky, honest to God,” Tsiantoulas said. “You can’t imagine what a genuinely good person Jim is. This was such a nice thing for him to do.”

Connolly, a retired Boston firefighter and Abington selectmen, said it would never have crossed his mind to do anything but return it. He did keep the change he found however.

“She tried to give me an envelope, but I said I got $26 out of this, that’s good enough,” Connolly said. “If it wasn’t for all that change, the ring would be gone.”

When the wedding band went missing, Tsiantoulas never replaced it.

“I just didn’t feel it was replaceable,” she said. Instead, she took off her engagement, put it away, and went ringless. Today, she’s wearing both rings for the first time in three years.

“If you’re looking for something that could be in the dryer, call Jim, he can find,” Tsiantoulas joked. 

“I told her, call me once a year and I’ll come clean out your dryer,” Connolly said.

 Tsiantoulas went back on to Rockland Hub Tuesday afternoon to tell her tale and publicly thank Connolly. 

“Please reach out to Jim if you have scrap metal to be removed. A true honest gentleman!!,” she wrote.

“Since she posted that, my phone has been blowing up,” Connolly said. “I was going to take the next couple days off, but I guess I’ll be busy.” 

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