NEW YORK (AP) _ A little help from sanitation workers probably saved Ron Goldstein a lot of explaining to his wife. The Staten Island man, who had tucked his wife's 3.5-carat diamond ring in a napkin for safe keeping while she was at the hospital, accidentally threw the ring in the trash.

Goldstein woke up in a panic on Monday morning: The napkin was nowhere to be found. He ran outside, just as a garbage truck was driving down the block and out of sight.

Undeterred, Goldstein called the local Department of Sanitation garage, where a supervisor arranged for the 63-year-old grandfather to follow the truck to a transfer station in Elizabeth, N.J. Once there, a group of workers endured the early-summer heat to search through dozens of garbage bags.

After about an hour, the group hit pay dirt, uncovering the yellow shopping bags Goldstein uses for trash. The napkin, and the ring, appeared shortly thereafter.

"It was meant to be found,'' Goldstein said of the ring, which he bought for his wife on their fourth anniversary 35 years ago. ''It was like God giving me another shot.''