I haven’t led a particularly sheltered life but there are things I’ve just never done.

Like putting stuff in a self-storage unit.

That’s not to say we’ve never had stuff to store. Truth is, we’ve had plenty. But that’s one of the blessings (or curse) of having a big old rambling house.

There’s plenty of space to put things.

That said, I’ve driven by enough storage complexes to know they're all over SouthCoast. Just a quick Google easily turns up more than 100 within a half hour’s drive.

As it happened, I had occasion to visit one of them last weekend.

A family member had put some items in storage and needed help sorting through them. That’s what brought me and my cousins to a place on the other side of Fall River.

Now, I’ve seen these things from the road and I know they stretch back some distance. But I wasn’t prepared for the fact that we were driving into a veritable storage city with row after row of units. They had to number in the hundreds.

Turns out they come in a variety of sizes and prices … from less than $100 for a month to two or three times that.

And apparently, the lion’s share of them were rented.

As I took it all in, I couldn’t help but wonder what brought people and their possessions there. Were they building a new house and needed a temporary home for their furniture? Were they making a cross-country move? Were they forced out of a bigger apartment into a smaller one?

Or, even worse, had they been evicted and desperately needed Somewhere to put their belongings?

Given the legal ads I’ve seen announcing auctions of unclaimed contents in such units, some who use them clearly run into problems. It wouldn’t take long for the monthly charges to pile up, unpaid. Making an already terrible situation even worse.

I’ve always felt kind of bad when I see those ads …

That feeling was reinforced as we drove out of the complex. We left by a different route than we’d entered and I noticed a line of vehicles to our left. Most of them had seen better days. Several had multiple flat tires, not to mention extensive rust.

But it was a compact car that really got my attention. It definitely looked old, but more than that, it was stuffed full, literally packed to the ceiling, with clothing. The sense of hopelessness was almost palpable.

Before we left, I needed to check in at the office. A very pleasant man was on duty and I couldn’t resist a comment.

“You must hear some sad stories,” I said.

Before I’d even finished, he was answering.

“You wouldn’t believe,” he said. “You wouldn’t believe …”

Contact Susan Pawlak-Seaman at sseaman@s-t.com