Laura Bliss is CityLab’s West Coast bureau chief. She also writes MapLab, a biweekly newsletter about maps (subscribe here). Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Atlantic, Sierra, GOOD, Los Angeles, and elsewhere, including in the book The Future of Transportation.
Twelve-year-old Peng Yijian holed up in Shanghai mega-stores for six days, reportedly living off free food samples.
After a heated run-in with his mom about some incomplete math homework, 12-year-old Peng Yijian ran away from his Shanghai home last Monday. With but a few yuan in his pocket and a school uniform on his back, he went to do what any kid would: To fulfill a fantasy of living in several department stores. For a full six days.
After Yijian was reported missing last Tuesday, local enforcement began checking surveillance cameras around his Xuhui District neighborhood. They spotted him in the grainy images from a Carrefour shopping outlet.
“We thought there might be other places he likes to visit, so we asked his mother," Sun Miao, a police officer in Xuhui District, told Shanghai Daily. "She gave us eight or nine names, including Caoxi Park, Nanfang Shopping Mall, In Center, and IKEA."
Evidently, she knew her son; Yijian soon appeared in surveillance footage from the world's favorite non-profit furniture emporium. On Sunday, police dispatched to the Xuhui IKEA found Yijian near an escalator on the ground floor, after a 40-minute, blocked-door kid hunt.
Having reportedly lived off only free food samples from nearby supermarkets, Yijian is now receiving an intravenous drip at a hospital. His parents have said they plan to establish clearer lines of communication with him in order to prevent future escapes downtown.
Personally, I look forward to Yijian's memoirs, or at least a definitive word on IKEA's best mattress.