We knock, the contractor drills open the lock, and in we go. We remove everything from the home and move it to the front yard. And I do mean everything -- I yank open drawers and pull out individual pairs of underwear. All your titty magazines, your vibrators, your weed pipes, your bills and mail ... the kid's race car bed, your mother's trashy romance novels, your half-empty tubes of hemorrhoid cream. It all ends up in the driveway for your neighbors to cull through for 24 hours. Everything but food, which is trashed, and weapons or drugs, which go to the police. Then, after 24 hours, I return and dump it all back into the house. That's because companies will bid competitively over who gets to handle the final trash-out.
"Ohhh, I'll give you $15 for the Ned Beatty teddy bear!"
That whole process is the "lockout." If the occupant has left and taken their stuff with them, then we poke through what they left behind. And that gives a different, weirder look into their lives. There are sad sights. Hospital equipment, like beds and oxygen tanks and toilet chairs -- signs of the illnesses that smacked the owners into poverty. There are scary sights, like when one lady had collected lifelike, three-foot-tall dolls, and I felt like I'd stumbled into some Uncanny Valley Tea Party.