Hardworking Mom Shares $9 Paycheck After Over 70 Hours Working As Server

After working over 70 hours at her job as a server and a bartender at a local sports bar, mom-of-one Aaliyah Cortez from Austin, Texas, received her biweekly paycheck and was stunned to see her grand total was just $9.28.

Understandably upset, Cortez took to her TikTok account and shared a video where she explains her hourly wage in an effort to highlight the importance of tipping in the severely flawed service industry.

At the beginning of clip, she shares the details of her paycheck, including how many hours she worked over the span of two weeks.

TikTok | @f.aa.ded

In a voice-over, Cortez explains that she gets paid $2.13 an hour as a bartender and server, and for this particular pay period she had worked nearly 71 hours.

"I should have made $151," she added.

However, after Social Security, Medicare, and federal income tax were taken out of her pay, she was left with $9.28.

TikTok | @f.aa.ded

She finished the video by saying, "This is why you tip."

Since it was posted, Cortez's TikTok has received over 98,000 likes on the video sharing platform.

The single mom explained that she shared the video to show how the service industry operates.

"There are laws set up that allow tipped employees to be paid under the federal minimum wage, which makes us rely on the customer to pay our wages," she told Buzzfeed.

"It's not right that we have to do this, but I wanted to shed some light on the issue and inform the public about the importance of tipping."

Restaurants are able to get away with paying servers and bartenders a few dollars by relying on customer tips to top up their paychecks.

"If I had a good two weeks from my tips, my check will be on the lower side," Cotez explained. "At my last restaurant, my checks would come out to be $0."

The system creates uncertainty for servers.

Twitter | @abronte_

The way the U.S. service industry is set up, servers have to rely heavily on the generosity of others rather than consistency from their employers. But what happens to individuals like Cortez when there are simply not enough people going into the restaurant?

The answer could be long hours with little to no reward. This could be especially problematic for mothers like Cortez.

At the end of the day, Cortez said she enjoys her job and is grateful she can make money from tips.


"I just wish we were all being paid adequately and consistently," she said. "As you can see — by my check — I cannot afford to live off of $2.13 an hour, so I solely rely on the generosity of my customers."

Cortez's video was later shared on Twitter by user @sxbvna where it ignited a pretty heated conversation over the matter of tipping.

Some users were shocked to see how little Cortez's hourly wage is.

"This is so wrong," one user wrote, while another added, "When she said $2.13 an hour I thought there was a typo or something. That's just criminal."

Some unsympathetic users said Cortez shouldn't have agreed to work a job with such a low hourly wage.

"Stop working there then," this user wrote. "Don't go into a job knowing the outcome and blame people for not tipping."

Someone else commented, "That's your fault for picking a job that pays $2.13 an hour. I know teens who make more than that."

However, others came to Cortez's defense and insisted it's the industry's fault, not her own, for such a low wage.

"The problem is, it shouldn't be on the customer to begin with," this user wrote. "It's an excuse for restaurants to get away with starvation wages."

"The employer should pay the staff correctly," this person insisted, "it's not down to the customer."

Then there were those who pointed out that Cortez's paycheck showed she made over $700 in tips during that pay period.

"$708 is what the lady declared," this user wrote. "You know she walked out with another grand the IRS will never know about."

Cortez, however, was quick to defend herself in the comments against those individuals.

She continued, "If I truly wanted to cover [the tip amount] up I could've blacked it out with a marker. I wasn't trying to hide s***."

Cortez left us all something to remember next time we're in a restaurant.

Unsplash | NeONBRAND

In an interview with Bored Panda, Cortez reaffirmed her stance on tipping.

"We don't like relying on the customer, but until the laws can get changed, we still need to be paid," she said. "Whatever you do, Don't. Forget. To. Tip."

How do you feel about the way the service industry is set up?

Unsplash | sofia lyu

Do you think that servers like Cortez should be compensated by employers more consistently?

Are you a server who has a similar story? Let us know about your experience.

h/t: Buzzfeed, Bored Panda

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