Dumpster-diving janitor saves the day

By Jeff Williamson - Digital Content Manager

WOWT - OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - A janitor's line of work tends to be messy. But at one Westside Elementary School, this cleaning man went above and beyond the call of duty.

Each sweep of Rusty Mailliard's broom inside Oakdale Elementary brings him more pride knowing his floors are clean. But two weeks ago, this janitor of nearly 15 years, took on a job that smelled a little off.

"Thought it might have been in one of the trash bags that I had already thrown in the dumpster," Mailliard told WOWT 6 News.

After finishing the lunch rush, Rusty was asked to dumpster dive through the day's trash.

"4th grader Rowan came up to me, somewhere after she was done eating and said she had lost her retainer and could I look for it," he said.

When she was done with the meal, she dumped the tray in the trash. She left for recess, but soon she realized the retainer was missing.

It was this 4th grader's worst case scenario: a brand new retainer thrown in garbage on baked bean and chicken sandwich day no less.

Rusty kept digging in other trash cans looking for the dental hardware.

"Pulled two of them out, started digging through this one and dumping into that one, about down to here, that's when I found the retainer in a hand full of beans," Rusty told WOWT 6 News.

"I was going to like cry because my mom was like ‘you better not lose this' I was waiting for this big lecture," said Rowan.

Two weeks later Rusty and Rowan were all smiles after the recovery.

"She doesn't have her retainer in," Rusty said. "Do you know where it is thought?"

"It's in my pocket," Rowan told him.

A new friendship now forged because this special janitor helped a 4th grader out of hot water. Replacing the lost retainer could've cost up to $1,000.

"My mom would have got so mad at me," she told WOWT 6 News

"Do you think that will ever happen again?" asked reporter Chase Moffitt.

"Probably not," Rowan said.

Rowan headed back to class with her retainer in pocket while Rusty headed back to take up his broom again - lunch is almost ready.

Rowan's mother Krissy was relieved that her daughter's retainer was recovered from the trash by Rusty. In return, as a gift of thanks, Krissy gave Rusty his favorite pop and candy.

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