As the latest COVID-19 wave in Shanghai started to wane, Zheng Peipei managed to return to her hometown in Bengbu, Anhui province on May 23 when the lease for her Shanghai apartment expired.
Although no longer in Shanghai, the 33-year-old is still very much concerned for her former neighbors. In fact, she has even continued to shoulder the responsibility of helping them procure groceries on online grocery apps such as Miss Fresh and Dingdong.
As the lockdown has severely impacted logistical services, both platforms have limited orders to specific hours of the day. Miss Fresh, for instance, only allows customers to place orders starting at 11:30 pm. Dingdong, on the other hand, has two slots per day – one at 6 am and another at 8:30 am.
Because of the massive number of people trying to place orders, most goods are sold out just seconds after each time slot opens. To be able to get one's hands on groceries requires a bit of luck and very quick fingers.
In the beginning, Zheng only tried placing orders for herself and her roommates. But she later extended this assistance to her neighbors after learning of their difficulties in securing goods.
As Dingdong allows customers to add more items to their orders when they successfully secure a time slot for delivery, Zheng would do her best to collate as many requests as possible before making payment. The biggest order she placed contained more than 20 items with a value exceeding 1,000 yuan ($148).
She also went the extra mile by personally delivering each person's orders to his or her doorstep.
Despite having to work remotely for the China branch of Goat Group, a US-based online sales platform dedicated to sneakers, in Shanghai now, Zheng has no qualms about staying up till midnight and waking up early in the morning just to help others obtain the daily essentials they need.
"I kind of enjoy it, to be honest," she said. "Being able to help others makes life under quarantine much more bearable. It makes life meaningful.
"Besides, I can place orders no matter where I am. So why not?"