Being left-handed is like being in a secret club. We have our own
bizarre initialization rituals, such as learning how to write
"the wrong way." We pay our dues every day, in terms of the extra
effort that we must make to live in a right-handed world. When we
encounter another lefty, we immediately have something in common.
The club is shrouded in secrecy, because we rarely mention the topic
to our right-handed friends.
For fun, I started making a list of the aspects of everyday life that are
geared towards right-handed people. Lefties will probably recognize
most things on this list; righties might find some of these things
surprising. Anyways, I hope you enjoy reading it! :-)
- We have to use special "lefty" scissors.
- We write from left to right, so that our hand smears the fresh
ink across the page. (Righties' hands do not touch the ink until they
get to the next line, so the ink has a few seconds to dry.)
- If you grab a coffee mug with your left hand, the picture will
be facing away from you. (Righties get to look at the picture while
- Lefties have little choice where they get to sit at large dinners,
lest they bump elbows with a righty.
- Lefties have little choice where they get to sit in lecture halls.
Often the only left-handed desks are on the end of the row. Lefties
can't sit in the middle, unless they want to have a hard time writing.
- When writing in a 3-ring binder (or spiral notebook), the rings get
in the way of our hands when we write on the front side of the paper.
(Righties have this problem when writing on the back of the paper, but
this is easier to avoid.)
- Many "commonly" used keys are on the right side of the keyboard.
For example: backspace, enter, arrows, and numeric keypad.
- Computer mice are generally set up so that the "main" button is
the index finger for righties. If you want to use the mouse in your
left hand, the "main" button is under your less-adept ring finger.
- Bike gears are on the right side of the bike. This means that if
you carry the bike on your right shoulder, the gears face outward. If you
put the bike on your left shoulder, you'll get grease stains all over
- Bike helmet chin-strap buckles are easier to release with your
- Hand-held jigsaws blow sawdust off to the right side. If you
hold it in your right hand, it blows the sawdust away from you. If
you hold it in your left hand, it blows sawdust in your face.
- Drill presses have the handle (to lower the drill) on the right
side. It's impossible (and dangerous!) to try to hold the wood with
your right hand while controlling the drill with your left hand.
- Lefties have to get their own "left-handed" boomerangs, golf clubs,
hockey sticks, and baseball mitts. This means we usually can't borrow
our friends' equipment.
- Car stick-shifts are on the right side of the driver. Less frequently
used controls, such as headlight switches, are on the left side.
- High-end headphones (with only one cord) have the cord on the left
side. The cord gets in the way more for left-handed writers.
- BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) entrance/exit gates take the ticket
on your right side.
- When pants only have one back pocket, it's always on the right side.
(Lefties have to fumble around for their wallet with their "bad" hand.)
- Mini propane camping stoves are designed so that you can hold it
with your left hand and pump up air pressure with your right, even if the
stove is still hot. It's hard to hold it with your right hand and pump
with your left hand without burning your right hand.
- Piano keys are arranged so the more rapidly-changing higher notes
are played with the right hand. For beginners, the base clef (left hand)
is often optional.
- Camera shutter buttons are often on the right. Pressing the button
with our less-dextrous hand makes it harder for lefties to hold the
camera steady while taking a picture.
- "Ergonomic" chairs usually have the controls on the right side.
- When firing an automatic or semi-automatic rifle, the ejection port
blows casings past your face. (Courtesy of
Chip Anderson )
- When holding a pen or pencil in your right hand, you can read any
lettering on it, but in your left hand, the lettering is upside-down.
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