A good friend of mine dropped by my office last week with a unique request. He walked in carrying a 100-year-old bamboo fly rod and two vintage reels. My friend is not an angler so I was pleasantly surprised thinking that finally, we were going to get to do some fishing together. After catching up for a few minutes he said he needed help with something. Over the weekend he had helped a widow from his church move out of her house. As a thank you for his time, the old woman gave him a box of old fishing gear that belonged to her husband. He went home and did some research, discovering that some of this equipment could be worth quite a bit to the right person. Turns out a comparable bamboo rod had recently sold on eBay for upwards of 5k and this one looked to be in incredible condition. I blurted out, “you need to take it down to ____ and get it appraised.” His response? “Matt, that’s why I’m here. I need you to get it appraised for me.”

He continued, “You see, as a black man, if I walk into ____ they will assume I stole this stuff and best case give me an unfair appraisal, but worst case they may call the cops on me. I have nothing to hide, but right now that’s the last thing I want to be dealing with.” I could feel my chest caving in. I knew that his assessment of the situation was accurate.