In a tweet that has gone viral, a 22-year-old Amazon driver, Derick Lancaster, said he quit Monday, walking off the job and abandoned his delivery truck at a Marathon gas station in Lathrup Village.
So much for the Amazon smile.
"I didn't think it would get over 10 million interactions," he told the Free Press Wednesday morning. "I thought it was going to get more like 50 'likes' and 20 retweets — and call it a day. But, it just touched a lot of people."
In fact, he said, he's gotten Twitter messages from other people telling him he inspired them to quit, too. But, he added, that wasn't what he expected, nor was it the reason he took to Twitter.
"This does not reflect the high standards we have for delivery partners," Amazon said in an email to the Free Press. "We are taking this matter seriously, and have investigated the matter and are taking appropriate action."
Among the grievances that led Lancaster to quit: He said he was late getting to his sister's recent graduation party because he was working, and he felt constant pressure to deliver more packages — and to do it faster.
Lancaster said after he left the van, he called a Lyft and went home, until he came to his senses hours later and returned to the gas station and waited for someone from Amazon to pick up the van.
He also got back on Twitter and posted a live video about why his job and mental health just wasn't worth $15.50 an hour.
Lancaster originally tweeted at 2:50 p.m. Monday: "I quit amazon," using obscenities, presumably for emphasis, he added that he left the van at 12 Mile and Southfield and "it's full of gas wit the keys in the IGNITION."
On Twitter, the Warren resident identifies himself as a "Michigan native." He said in his Free Press interview that he graduated from Lincoln High in Warren, and is now seeking to attend Oakland University.
Under that tweet is a response from someone else a photo of the van and the comment: "Bro hes wasnt lying," and another photo of inside the van full of Amazon boxes, imprinted with the company's signature smile.
A string of other comments, mostly jokes, suggest Lancaster gave "2-minute notice."
Since the pandemic began, Amazon workers nationwide have called out sick in protest and held rallies to call attention to what they have said are working conditions that are unsafe and harsh.
In April, employees of a metro Detroit Amazon fulfillment center, where three people have tested positive for COVID-19, walked off the job. They said they wanted the Romulus warehouse to be shut down for a thorough cleaning.
This weekend, protesters marched outside a home of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.
As pandemic fears — and package volumes — increased, delivery companies have struggled to keep pace.
The U.S. post office, which has long been a target of customer service complaints, is facing both delivery and financial woes. FedEx, based in Memphis, Tennessee, is experiencing what it acknowledges are "significant service delays" in metro Detroit.
There is even a Facebook group — "Storm Fed Ex Oak Park's Phones (OPPD can't stop any of us)" — that has more than 800 members to document their delivery complaints.
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At 8:39 p.m., Lancaster posted a 13-minute, profane video, explaining why he walked off the job. He said he was waking up at 9 and 9:15 a.m. and working until 9 or 10, after delivering 200 packages.
And then he'd, go to sleep, wake up and do it again.
If he wanted to do that, he said, he'd go work at Chrysler — or cut grass.
Lancaster's video is a stark contrast to the feel-good worker-vignettes that the company has been airing as TV commercials and showcase the curve on Amazon packages that the company calls a smile.
Instead, Lancaster expressed frustration and contempt for the online retailer, saying that despite the long hours in the heat, he'll get text messages saying there is more work to be done, and he lashed out at Bezos.
Lancaster said he'd even "rather work at Wendy's." A moment later, he also mentioned McDonald's. But, he added, quickly taking that back, "No I won't, I'm reaching."