A little extra cash, please

By and

Isn’t tipping strange? People do their job, give you some kind of service and you leave them money to show gratitude. What makes it particularly odd is that we only tip certain people, but never consider tipping others.

Servers, bellhops, valet parking attendants, taxi drivers and hairstylists seem to have cornered the tipping market, and if you walk away from them without leaving a tip, you are essentially a thief.

What’s even more interesting is that you get the opportunity to decide how well that person catered to your needs and then tip accordingly. If the server was quick, polite, knowledgeable and overcame any obstacle that could have interfered with your dining experience, then you offer him or her a respectable percentage of the meal cost to subsidize his or her insignificant hourly wage of $2.13. If the meal was cold, the service slow or you found an unwanted object in your food, you have the option to penalize the server by leaving a measly, ungenerous tip-if you leave one at all.

What’s better is that, because you intend to leave a tip following this service, you are also at liberty to boss around workers unceasingly. If they talk back, question your authority, make an inappropriate joke, misunderstand you or don’t please your excessive demands, you can dictate their income significantly.

What if doctors, lawyers, auto mechanics and professional athletes also depended on tips to earn a decent living? Imagine what kind of tip a doctor would get if it were a typical office visit for a patient.

Wait in the front and read year-old magazines for an hour, tip goes down to 15 percent. If you get asked a few questions by the nurse and wait another 10 minutes inside the doctor’s office, tip goes to 12 percent. Once you finally get evaluated, if you don’t like the doctor’s opinion, you can walk out, give him or her a miniscule tip and call it even.

I think if those were the conditions, visits to the doctor would be quite different.

I remember going to Boise Hawks games when I was younger. They were a single-A minor league team then, so their salaries were pretty low.

Throughout the games, someone would pass around the “Player of the Game” bucket, and people would drop in a little cash for the outstanding player of the game. This caused the players to play with a little extra motivation as they tried to impress the crowd, and if they were successful, they could go home with a few extra dollars.

Wouldn’t it be great if professors were paid $2.13 an hour, but were able to get significant tips (based upon their quality of teaching) because a tip bucket was passed around the room, just like at those baseball games?

That certainly would help to fix the rise in tuition costs. If you appreciate the education being delivered, toss some cash into the bucket. If not, you can scowl, whisper to the people around you, “Well, I never?” and then get up and leave.

But, of course, that’s not the world we live in. We just tip people in random professions. Whoever it was that sat down one day and decided which professions to tip and which would allow their companies to pay them more than $2.13 an hour, we may never know.

I’ll just say it was me, and I now include columnists in the list of professions that are customary to tip.

Just drop by The Chronicle office and leave the money in an envelope labeled “Matt Patton.”

And I’ll be sure to leave you a mint.