Sunday, January 12, 2014

On Being Left Handed

Right handers can just put away their judgments on the front end. I'm sure you're thinking this post is just going to be a fuss-fest about how "handicapped" left handers are in today's world, but it's more than that.  Right handers, being the catered-to majority, can't understand left handers' frustrations with everyday tasks and materials.  Something as simple as using scissors becomes a massive undertaking, and honestly, we south paws spend a lot of time learning to do things right handed because there's no good way to make it happen with ole lefty. It has been said that we're more creative, but recent research doesn't really support that claim 100% these days.  Below, I'll outline a few things that a good majority of people don't realize create daily frustrations for south paws.

Printed drinkware with handles:
Oh! How lovely.  You got me a coffee mug with a cute design or my name on it...too bad it faces me when I hold it. This is one of those trivial things that's not truly a bother, but let's be honest, if you're going to print something on a cup, it's meant to be seen.  Either print the image on both sides, double handle the mugs, or create dominant hand specific designs.

3-ring binders and spiral notebooks:
Oh. My. Word. Trying to write in something that's bound with rings or spirals is impossible because we can't get our hands level to the paper thanks to the ginormous contraption in the way. Everyone's alternative is to turn it backward and open notebooks from right to left. That might be ok if we lived in Japan; however, I learned to read left to right, so writing on my papers in reverse order is not really an option. Talk about defying everything we've been taught since preschool.

Unlined paper and writing utensils:
Right handers have the luxury of the writing hand being to the side of text.  As you write, your hand scrolls ahead to create room; thus, you write in straight lines and typically with nice penmanship. Not us. Lefties put a hand down and start writing, but it's not until the second line rainbows into the first that we realize we've been writing at a slant that's quickly becoming an inefficient use of the paper.  Our hands follow along as we write, so we can't see what's happening. Because we tend to bear down on writing utensils, lefties' grips are lower (closer to the paper) and also make it hard to see the text. And, I can't tell you how many pencils I've destroyed, either by breaking lead or snapping in half. Ugh. Ball-point pens...beautiful, until you realize you're bearing down so hard the ball isn't rolling. Double ugh. 

Left-handed scissors are a joke and a waste of money. They, like "normal" scissors, bend the paper without actually cutting anything.  If you're like me, you learned early in life that cutting right handed is the best option. Because scissors have circular handles, we can steady old righty enough to cut semi-straight lines. If all else fails, ask a right hander to cut for you. That way, you'll save a lot of grooves and painful indentions from plaguing hands. 

Preferential seating for standardized tests doesn't mean you're special; it means you're left handed. And, if they have enough (if any) lefty desks to accommodate everyone, it's amazing. Try writing on something that stems from the opposite side with nowhere to rest your arm while you write. Yeah. Not fun. 

Table seating:
The majority of the world is right handed, so when a large group of folks sits down for anything (a meal, a meeting, etc.) it's in everyone's best interest to seat the lefty on a corner. Otherwise, we spend the entire time half paying attention or profusely apologizing because we're trying not to elbow the person next seat over. 

Instructional booklets and videos:
Ever tried to knit, crochet, etc.? Good luck if you're left handed. Most people won't even try to teach you because it's "backward," and most manuals with diagrams are written from the right hander's perspective. Talk about frustrating. I've cried over simple things because my right-handed friends pick up so quickly, and I can't even get things going for a decent start. Sometimes, I get started only to realize I've done it the wrong way or inside out.  Thanks, left hand. Thanks. 

The computer mouse:
Like scissors, we all learn to use the mouse right handed, but it is frustrating that it's designed for the right hand exclusively. Cradle the mouse in your hand and Mr. Index Finger nicely sits on the clickers. Oh, you say move it to the left side of the computer? Sure. I love accidentally right clicking everything, don't you?

All of these things are just a drop in the bucket of things that cause us trouble. Some buttons, zippers, light/lamp switches, doors, video game controllers, tv remotes, etc. are also easier for right handers to use.  Some musical instruments are solely right handed...I learned to have great dexterity in my right pointer, middle, and ring fingers so that I could become a trumpet player.  My parents offered to buy me a left-handed trumpet, but I refused because I had to prove to myself that I could do the intended way.  Regardless, we get on in the world just as well, if not better, than many right handers.  Just remember that sometimes we have to stop to think before we embark on daily activities because much of the time, we're processing "backward." Maybe the world should be more accommodating to lefties. We're more numerous than people realize, and it's hard to live in a world that's built for others. The upside is that the left side of the body is controlled by the right side of the brain, so lefties are always in their right minds!

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