Laura Bliss is a staff writer at CityLab, covering transportation and technology. She also authors MapLab, a biweekly newsletter about maps (subscribe here). Her work has appeared in the New York Times, The Atlantic, Los Angeles magazine, and beyond.
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.