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Act One

Needle In A Crapstack

If you don't pay the rent on a self storage unit, eventually all of your stuff can go up for auction. But the people bidding aren't allowed to dig around. They just peer in from the outside with flashlights, guessing where there are valuables. Jon Mooallem visited auctions in Northern California, and learned the surprising techniques people use to tell junk from treasure. Jon is a contributing writer for The New York Times Magazine, and is author of the book Wild Ones. (16 minutes)