I went up to the 14th floor and rang the bell. A middle-age African-American woman opened it and I told her I had her Chinese-food order. She was noticeably shocked and concerned.  “They don’t come up here for deliveries,” she said.

She asked me if I knew how dangerous it was there.

I asked how dangerous it could possibly be.

Really dangerous, she said.

When I left, I casually told her to take care and she said urgently, seriously, No, you take care. She was petrified for me, and petrified of the building she was living in. She gave me a two-dollar tip.

“Takeout story: Behind bulletproof glass and out on a bike for a Chinese restaurant in Mott Haven.” — Kevin Heldman, Capital New York

See more #longreads from Capital New York