Do you ever see things on the freeway that you wish you could stop and pick up? Sometimes I come across opportunities like that.
Several years ago, I was driving on the 91 Freeway eastbound in the lane to take the 710 north. Near the end of the transition lane I ran over a piece of metal. It appeared to be very heavy and about 2 inches thick. Since I take this route often, I had run over this metal about 3 times. It didn’t seem to be moving, even though thousands of cars and trucks had run over it. I formulated a plan to come back later to try and pick it up.
I went back about 9PM when the traffic was slower. I returned in my truck because I knew it looked heavy. I parked on the shoulder before the metal. With a rope I had brought along, I threw out the rope and looped it around the metal and, when the traffic cleared momentarily, pulled–hard. It slid towards me with such force that it snapped off one of those reflectors on the side of the road.
It was then that I saw that the metal was a machined piece exactly 3 inches thick by 4 feet by 4 feet. And it was heavy! I got my heavy screwdriver and a hammer. I hammered the screwdriver under the metal enough to put the hammer under it. I then got my fingers under it and stood it up on end. I walked it over to the back of my truck, opened the doors and lifted it into the truck. I must have weighed about 100 pounds.
The next day I went over to a friends machine shop to show him my prize. He offered me $500 on the spot. He was looking for something like this to put on his resurfacing table. It weighed exactly 200 pounds, and was obviously high quality steel. After measuring it with a straightedge, he found it to be perfectly level. Even after falling off a truck (I assume), and being run over countless times.
A few months later I was driving home from a job replacing an engine in Fountain Valley. I noticed a piece of what looked like sheet metal in the bushes just off the side of the freeway. I went around and came to the site again. I found that this piece of metal was a full sheet of titanium. I pulled it into the truck and measured it. It was 1/16 inches thick, 14 feet long and 4 feet wide.
I again went to see my friend at the machine shop and asked him if he wanted to buy it. He looked up the numbers stamped on the sheet and found out that this sheet was very high quality titanium. VERY EXPENSIVE titanium. This sheet was valued at $15,000 wholesale! He contacted a friend of his that was building a kit helicopter and was about to buy a sheet of aluminum because he couldn’t afford the titanium he wanted. When he asked what I wanted for the sheet, I told him to make me an offer. He gave me $5000 for it and we both came away happy.
I’m still keeping my eyes peeled!