A now-viral TikTok sparked fierce debate after an app-based delivery driver used the platform to share his struggle to earn a livable wage.
“Y’all, I wish people knew what it was like to deliver for UberEats, Postmates, Doordash, all these companies,” he says. “I just spent an hour driving around for a $1.19 tip. I mean, would it hurt y’all to…throw us $5?” He wipes tears from his eyes as he speaks.
He goes on to reveal that from the app, he only earned $2 from the delivery—making his total pay for an hour of work just above the $3 mark. “What’s that?” he asks. “That’s not even enough to cover gas. How am I supposed to survive like that?”
According to his previous videos, Michael is an unhoused veteran and aspiring musician. He has reportedly been recording music using his phone while hoping to raise enough money to buy an acoustic guitar.
He elaborates on his situation in his vulnerable TikTok clip: “Homeless—I’m there. This, that I’m sitting in [his car]—it’s gone. Four months behind. There’s no way I can pay for that. Everything fell apart on me. I haven’t been able to sustain myself, to provide for myself. And these are essential services.”
The video has blown up since it was posted four days ago, with over 822,000 views and over 160,000 likes. And, in the comments section, viewers are engaging in a heated discussion over the necessity of tipping, especially in the wake of corporations that pay their workers unlivable wages.
Many agreed simply that the $1.19 tip was unacceptable. “$5 should be the minimum!” wrote one TikToker. “I tip more if the food isn’t local as well.”
“How do people not tip??? I always make sure I give at least 20%,” added another.
However, several others pointed out that while tipping is important, the anger and frustration that many feel over low wages should be directed towards the companies, rather than consumers.
“Why does the burden always fall on consumers instead of these corporations? I really don’t get America’s culture,” wrote one commenter.
Another commented that “these companies are exploiting [delivery workers] and they need to be regulated.”
On Sunday, Michael posted an update to his secondary TikTok account, thanking “everyone around the world” for their support.
In the update video, he adds that he agrees with many of his commenters that the issue, ultimately, stems from the practices of the large corporations that run these delivery apps. “This is a very tough topic…I just wanted to stress the importance of the fact that it is on the delivery services, and not the individuals that are being delivered to,” he says.
While the conversation is far from over, he ends the video on an uplifting note: “I’ll be able to get on my feet soon, the way this is going. So, this is all amazing. Thank you so much.”
“We’re not done yet.”