On Jan. 31, 26-year-old Lexy Burke — a self-described “serial tipper” — posted a clip in which she and another passenger listen to their driver, Awil, speak about his hard luck near an Urban Grub parking lot in Nashville.
“We normally used to make close to, like, $1,000 a week,” Awil tells them. “And now, even if you drive, like, 10 hours a day, it’s tough to make, like, $500.”
Awil then reveals that he took on another job as an Amazon driver, after he realized he couldn’t make a living while working as a full-time Uber driver. When Burke’s friend asks if he sends some of the money he earns home, the driver tells the two that he, in fact, sends it to his family in Somalia.
“It’s big money for them,” Awil explains. “One dollar is enough that you can eat all day over there.”
Burke’s friend then turns on his camera’s flash to reveal the surprise the two have for Awil — which is later shown in a follow-up TikTok.
“We know things have been crazy this year, but we want to make it a little bit better,” Burke tells Awil. “And we want to make your night, and we’re going to tip you $1,000.”
Taking a second to process what Burke has said, the Uber driver appears stunned and repeatedly tells her no.
“Don’t do that,” he says. “Are you sure?”
When Burke confirms that she has every intention of giving him the money, Awil responds by saying, “No, that’s a lot. I don’t deserve that.”
“Yes, you do,” Burke says. “Please take it. You’re going to make me cry.”
The TikToker then explains to the driver that the monetary gift is part of a charity she does on TikTok where she asks her followers to Venmo her money to help people in need.
“This is from thousands of people who want to see a smile on your face and your family’s face,” she tells him. “So this is not from me.”
Awil then thanks her before sharing several words of wisdom.
“There is good people everywhere in the world, no matter what type of color, no matter what type of living situation,” he says. “There is someone with a heart who feel for other people.”
Burke’s second TikTok featuring Awil has since gone viral, receiving over 1.6 million views and plenty of praise from fellow users.
“You literally restored his faith in humanity,” one person wrote.
“I love when people who deserve to be blessed get BLESSED!” another added. “And when he said he didn’t deserve it, you KNOW he deserves it.”
In an interview with In The Know, Burke said she was inspired to create the now popular Venmo challenge — in which social media users come together to help someone via Venmo donations — after she had received a $1,000 tip during her time as a server.
“I have seen and heard about others leaving big tips and it is always something I wanted to do!” she said. “This pandemic has effected everyone. I wanted to help in whatever way I could.”
In documenting her interactions with everyday people on TikTok, Burke added that she wanted her followers to come away with one inspiring message.
“We’re all in this together,” she said.
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