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"I Wish People Understood What It's Like To Drive For These Services" — This Uber Eats Delivery Man Tearfully Shared A Behind-The-Scenes Moment From His Car

"I got a $1.19 tip and $2 from the app after driving around for an hour."

A delivery driver named Smithson Michael caught the attention of over a million people after sharing this behind-the-scenes video on the job:

In the viral video, Smithson says, "I wish people knew what it was like to deliver for Uber Eats. Postmates, DoorDash, all these companies. I just spent an hour driving around for a $1.19 tip. I mean, would it hurt y'all to tip us, throw us five dollars? I got a $1.19 tip and two dollars from the app... That's not even enough to cover gas. How am I supposed to survive like that?"

@itssmithsonmichael / tiktok.com

BuzzFeed spoke to Smithson, who has been working in the Riverdale section of the Bronx, New York since December 2020.

Smithson taking a mirror selfie
Smithson Michael

Smithson said that the average tip for one delivery ranges from zero dollars (more often than not) to four. "A twenty is super rare, a ten is rare, and a five makes me feel good. That’s how scarce it can be," he said.

Smithson holding a bag of food for delivery
Smithson Michael

"A small tip is so defeating, it makes me want to cry. Bills, debts, and future endeavors all seem so far away when you get three dollars or less for all that waiting, driving to pick up and drop off the order in a timely fashion — ensuring everything is perfect — to only drive away with barely enough to get your tank off of empty."

And, oftentimes, people don't tip because of situations that are out of the drivers' control. "We are at the mercy of the restaurant or businesses’ schedule when we accept an order. All we can do is wait until they give it to us to get it to the customer. So, when a customer is unwilling to tip because of the fact that they had to wait a long time, it is not always our fault."

I am the voice of the food service industry workers that deserve respect, proper pay, and better treatment. No one deserves to work, and be paid so little. Especially not in an unprecedented time where the demand for these services is at an all-time high.

Twitter: @itssmithson

He added, "I take great pride in getting your order to you in a timely manner, and I also place the safety of your delivery at the top of my priority list — as well as making you happy so you do not hesitate to order again! Not all deliverers are irresponsible. Many of us pride ourselves on being professionals at this. We know it might not be possible to always tip, but if you can, it means everything to us."

However, it isn't just about tips from other people. Smithson said that in his experience while driving for the app, Uber pays delivery drivers literally cents per mile. "And it’s a few cents per minute for the wait and to pick up food," he said, adding that if you get stuck in traffic, you really get screwed on your payout from the company.

In addition, daily driving takes a huge toll on your car. As of now, Uber offers drivers 15% off new tires and oil changes at select locations. Their website also states that they are "working with AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon to save you 8-22% on your monthly bill."

"I want people to realize that these app services do not pay for every aspect of the ordeal that we, as delivery drivers, have to go through to get these orders to you. It’s not always just a bag of hot food. Sometimes it’s 20 bags of groceries, with five cases of water in them and multiple boxes of bottles. Other times, it's items that can be delicate and heavy. The pay per delivery is very low despite the mileage driven or wait time for food and, again, we are not paid to be stuck in traffic," he said.

Smithson delivering bags of food with a Amazon delivery man behind him
Smithson Michael

"We had an insane snowstorm last spring and I delivered in a front-wheel-drive sedan during that. I tied plastic bags around my feet and put my boots on. I was out there for 10 hours straight. Some hills were so slick, I had to park and walk several blocks through foot-deep snow to get the groceries to the customer. I pushed at least five cars out and got stuck several times. I made about $120 in tips after gas that day." (That comes to $12 an hour and the minimum wage in New York City is $15 — it is $13.20 per hour in New York.)

Smithson made his videos to help spread awareness so things can change. "Uber — and all delivery app services — should pay more to deliverers. People are driving, walking, scooting, and biking in all types of weather conditions — day and night. It’s dangerous out there at times when you consider weather conditions, traffic, and crime. If no one tips, you’re working eight to ten hours shifts for $30 to $40 dollars total. The advertising these billion-dollar companies put out there regarding pay per hour is not accurate at all," he said, reiterating that this is why tips are so critical.

@itssmithsonmichael

Billion dollar companies- if everyone stops delivering for a “real job” what would THAT feel like #positiveforce #fyp #itssmithsonmichael #traction #tiktok

♬ original sound - Smithson Michael

Smithson has created a petition for more fair pay to app delivery drivers — you can sign it here. You can also follow him on TikTok and Twitter. If you would like to help Smithson, here is a link to his GoFundMe, PayPal, and Venmo.