Against prejudging in Pittsford at Lock 62

IMG_0634-580x435• September 1, 2015

There is spot in Pittsford where world’Speaking-OUT-2-page-0-580x448s collide.

Behind Pittsford Plaza is what remains of Lock 62. Its now abandoned double chamber filled with weeds and overflown brackish water, where sunken trash reappears during dry spells. Adjacent is a an attractive walking and biking path.

Mostly passer-bys are the expected given its location. Bird watchers, Foliage seekers, Meet Up hikers, early morning dog walkers and Sunday afternoon strollers (sometimes the Bills game can be heard on a radio), harried suburbanites taking rest before braving Wegmans. Somewhat less visible by choice, teenagers (mostly from Brighton and Pittsford), smoking (and not just tobacco), leaving tell tale empties (sometimes unfortunately left floating in the murky overflow), exploding firecrackers, and doing what teenagers do–or try–to do.

Lock 62 also attracts plaza and nearby workers who drift up to the bench and the seat-like abutment in one chamber.  Smoking, eating lunch or dinner, escaping for a moment during a shift or relaxing after. And, Speaking-OUT-9_13_2015-page-0-476x580occasionally, I have seen homeless people–their cars in the parking area filled with a life’s possessions–trying to stay the night on hot summer’s nights.

Yesterday, I saw two young men, Josh and Jo Jo, smoking on break from Applebys. Josh, Hispanic and Jo Jo, African-American. Because I lingered for a moment, Jo Jo asked, you look like you have a question.

I did. I briefly explained I am a community member of the D & C Unite Rochester blog.  My question was simple. Do you guys ever get hassled here?

Their first instinct was to say no. No hassling. But as Josh and Jo Jo opened up, I learned if either of them is just sitting alone by himself, no one seems to care. However, if there together or with another friend or two, passer-bys give “the look.” The look that Josh and Jo Jo could be “trouble.”

From there, Jo Jo warmed to the conversation. First, he told me he was one of the most intellectual guys I’d meet. I liked his youthful brashness and self-confidence.

The story Jo Jo wanted to tell was about his Life Coach (thinking I would be surprised he has a life coach, and I was a little.) Jo Jo’s coach had explained how when people enter a group within 5 – 9 seconds their prejudging instincts kick in. And once those prejudgments become fixed, they are hard to unfix. His coach also said if you can overcome your initial pidgeonholing, you will be surprised the success you will have throughout life.

Jo Jo went further. If he were prejudging, he would not be talking to me right then. And I wouldn’t be learning more about his story. Jo Jo comes from a family of entrepreneurs in the city. His father owns an automotive repair shop; his uncle a corner store. Jo Jo plans to open a food truck, then work towards a fleet. He could see himself selling lunches to plaza workers like himself, although Applebys is just a brief stopover to make money. As Josh and Jo Jo returned to work, Jo Jo kindly said it was a blessing we met. Same for me.

I had wanted to take a picture of them on the granite ledge with graffiti on the wall, but didn’t have my camera. They took my email address and would get me cell phone photos. Jo Jo had more to say.

I have not heard back (that’s ok). There is a good chance I will never see Josh and Jo Jo again. But Lock 62 in Pittsford will always feel a little different.

UPDATE: see Jo Jo and me reunited! Revisiting “Against prejudging in Pittsford at Lock 62”

Jo Jo and me reunited! And revisiting “Against Prejudging in Pittsford at Lock 62”