In the heart-wrenching video which has garnered over 2 million views on TikTok, Riley Elliot is seen tearfully pleading with people to tip their delivery drivers properly.
A delivery driver based in Las Vegas is paying it forward after a viral video of him detailing the financial hardships of trying to make ends meet with meager tips and sub-minimum wage, led to donations from across the country. In the heart-wrenching video, which has garnered over 2 million views since it was posted to TikTok on February 17, Riley Elliot is seen tearfully pleading with people to tip their delivery drivers properly. "Y'all I wish that people who order UberEats or Doordash understood what it's like to be a driver," he says in the video. "I just spent 45 minutes on a delivery, and I had to pay $3.00 to bring this person their food, because there was no free parking anywhere near the building, and he wouldn't come out and meet me."
Come on people! Have a heart! These folks are making our lives continue to function and doin a job that may be all they can find right now.🙏— john bigham (@johnbigham) February 23, 2021
Uber Eats driver issues heartbreaking message after delivery order gone wrong: ‘Totally unacceptable’ https://t.co/Aa0PNTktGJ via @Yahoo
"They tipped me $1.50, and Uber paid me $2.50. I gotta prove three times rent for income in two weeks and I can't. It doesn't matter that I'm working multiple jobs, that I barely sleep, that I can barely afford to feed myself," he adds. "I am about to be homeless for the third time since May, and it's all because people don't tip their delivery drivers." Speaking to TODAY Food, Elliot revealed that he has been working multiple jobs ever since losing his full-time job of more than a decade in 2016. In addition to driving for Uber Eats "on and off," he also works part-time at a local Pizza Hut—where his hours have been slashed during the pandemic—and driving for other delivery companies like Shipt and Amazon.
Something needs to be done about this. pic.twitter.com/PvxbgiQl2s— Christian St. Croix (@SaintsCrossing) February 17, 2021
"I came out of the delivery and I was exhausted," Elliot explained, adding that he had stopped driving for Uber Eats until he and his fiancé Renni's financial situation changed due to the pandemic. Elliot had been pulling longer shifts to try to make ends meet as the couple was required to move out of their apartment in a week. "I was scared that we weren't ever going to be able to (qualify) for a house or apartment because this person won't even tip me enough to cover the parking fee, and it just felt like I was never going to (make enough money) if nobody cares."
Today I learned I might make just barely too much to qualify for Medicaid, I’m talking tens of dollars too much. Listen.. I can’t even afford to buy garbage bags.. how am I supposed to afford health insurance?!— Riley Elliot (@livefreestudios) February 10, 2021
Although in the viral video, Elliot blamed customers who don't tip on deliveries, he added in a follow-up video that the blame is also on companies that pay their drivers below minimum wage and use loopholes to avoid giving benefits to drivers. "In the U.S., tip culture is a huge part of our society, and these companies are paying sub-minimum wage to service workers because they're expecting the customer to make up the difference," he said. "And then these companies are charging outrageous fees to customers, so customers don't tip the driver... It keeps drivers desperate and accepting lowball offers because we've got to put gas in our tanks, we've got to get oil changes, we need to get new tires more often."
We have a chance to make a real change! These companies relying on gig workers during a pandemic and paying nothing should be held accountable. If you are *able* to tip, in the mean time, it’s what we have to live on. It’s an exploitative system that only benefits the company. https://t.co/sSiqVo7wG2— Riley Elliot (@livefreestudios) February 21, 2021
"The drivers are seeing $2, maybe $3 (from an order)," Elliot continued. "I'm making $2 and destroying my car. These companies are making billions while consumers and drivers struggle, and through the pandemic, job loss and unemployment have skyrocketed." After Elliot shared the first video with his modest 9 followers, which has since exploded to over 17,000 followers, donations came flooding into his Venmo account which he had listed in his TikTok bio from participating in a previous sweepstakes event. "I have been just totally blown away," said Elliot, adding that he estimates to have received around $55,000. "None of it was expected. I didn't post the video expecting people to reach out or expecting money or handouts or anything."
Since the amount is more than enough for Elliot and Renni to consider permanent housing instead of an apartment, they've been "giving money away" to others in need. So much so that Elliot soon hit the maximum amount of money he could send with cash transfer apps like Venmo and Cash App. "Once we reached the point where we were like, 'OK, now we'll definitely be able to get into a place, we don't need all of this,' I started literally just giving money away," he explained. "We sent money to folks in Texas whose pipes had burst, we sent money to folks who needed medication, sent money to friends who were struggling... We spent about $15,000 that first day, just helping people out with their situations."
Everyone is asking me for a gofundme. We don’t need a gofundme, but I’ve created one to support other gig economy workers during this tough time. Everything donated to this fund will go to delivery drivers in need! https://t.co/m13lt4RqYW— Riley Elliot (@livefreestudios) February 20, 2021
Since he has hit the limit for money transfers, Elliot is currently directing potential donors to GoFundMe campaigns for a variety of causes including an adaptive bike for a little boy with special needs and small fundraisers for people who are trying to pay bills or obtain medical care. He and his fiancé also spent $500 buying blankets and food to give to homeless people and have set up another GoFundMe specifically for helping delivery drivers. "Right away, my initial response was, 'Oh my god, we can help other people,'" Elliot said. "It's honestly been kind of a dream come true... Financially, everybody's struggling right now."