The only exception is 2 Chainz

S Aufrecht

Martinez has spent most of his 40-year career in Manhattan office buildings, sometimes coming in and out of meetings throughout the city three or four times a day. He always takes the stairs … racing up them, as much younger security guards—mandated at times by the building’s bylaws to escort him—huff and puff behind. …

[T]he city is full of office buildings with stairwells that, because of security concerns, open only outward. But Martinez clues me in on a little secret: a Michael Bloomberg–era health-conscious law that decreed stairwell access be provided to all in hopes of encouraging more New Yorkers to take the stairs. Ever since, whenever Martinez finds a locked door, he’ll call up his personal lawyer, who will then find the building’s managers, cite the legal statute, and force the managers to acquiesce under the threat of court action. (Once, Martinez did it to get to a job interview. His would-be employers were impressed. “They said, ‘Look what the fuck he did just to get up our stairs!’”)

When people try to cajole [former music publicist Nakia “Nikki” Hicks] into an elevator—to promise to look out for her—she’ll as often as not snap. “Do you really think your presence can counterbalance fucking three decades of fear?!” The only exception is 2 Chainz, the ultracharismatic Atlanta rapper. He has managed, with patience and true care, to keep Hicks calm in the box. He tells her, “It’s just you and me.” And he’ll actually stop any other passengers from getting on, to make sure Hicks has the personal space she needs. He tells her, “You with me—we’re together.”

—Amos Barshad, Topic 1


  1. Barshad, Amos. 2018-Oct. “The Elevator-Phobes of a Vertical City”. Topic, Issue No. 16, October 2018. Retrieved from https://www.topic.com/the-elevator-phobes-of-a-vertical-city