It’s really hard for someone who isn’t left-handed to understand a lefty’s constant frustration with the world we live in. From using scissors and measuring tapes to pulling up a zipper on a pair of pants, and a lot more, a lefty’s day-to-day challenges may seem absurd to someone on the opposite side.
Trust me, I know. As someone who has used his right hand his whole life, it took me forever to notice the struggles of being left-handed. But now that I’ve noticed, even the smallest of things can never go unnoticed again. I will always feel for a lefty as they use a computer mouse or try to greet someone with a simple handshake.
To really understand what a left-hander deals with everyday living in a right-hander’s world, here are some of the biggest problems left-handers face.
Things Left Handers Struggle With
Socializing Can Be Awkward at Times
The world is almost entirely filled with right-handed people, with only about 10% of the population consisting of left-handers. Small aspects of how we socialize are quite overlooked, namely the way our right hands are used for almost every form of interaction. Here are 4 ways a left-hander is forced to adapt to certain social norms.
A handshake, arguably the most common way to greet somebody, always involves the right hand, never the left. If you ever greeted someone with your left hand coming in for a handshake, you’d more than likely confuse them. Even when you think a left-hander could at least have their way by sending a left-handed handshake emoji through text, even this is impossible as there are no left-handed handshake emojis out there.
Drinking at the Table
Imagine you’re eating at the table. There are people on your left and your right. It’s such a commonly done thing to keep your glass of water on the right so that it’s “easy to get to”. However, this is just confusing and annoying for someone who is left-handed and feels that keeping their glass to their left makes more sense. When they take a sip from the glass on their left, they realize too late that it’s not theirs.
Handing Someone Money or Food (In Certain Countries)
Proper social etiquette in India and many Islam-dominant countries often involves extensive use of the right hand when greeting someone or passing an object of any kind to someone. In India, when handing someone money, you must use your right hand to give and receive, or else, it is a sign of disrespect. This is in practice primarily because the left hand is generally connected with personal hygiene and “impure” activities. In Islam, it is improper to use your left hand to eat or feed others. Only one’s right hand can perform this task. I can imagine this can be a huge issue for lefties, and maybe even a bit disrespectful to lefties.
Forced Right Hand Writing in School (Not as Common Today)
Learning can be difficult enough for little kids, but on top of that, if you’re left-handed, you may be forced to learn how to write with your right hand. This means struggling to write because it feels unnatural and even changing your way of doing other tasks as well. While this isn’t very common to see being done today, there was a time when it was normal for left-handers to be converted to right-handers in schools. Lefties were quite often seen as abnormal and were forced to conform with the rest of the right-handers.
However, as time has passed, the repercussions of having to forcefully change your dominant hand have been understood to be quite severe, from potentially causing dyslexia to stuttering. Today, schools do not force left-handers to change their dominant hand. However, the same cannot be said with certainty about every culture.
The one time when it becomes necessary to change writing hands is if you permanently injure your dominant hand.
If you are or know a lefty, then you have definitely heard about the frustration of writing as a lefty, at least when you start out. Remember, it’s a standard practice to write from left to right, ideal for a righty and problematic for a lefty. A right-hander won’t ever face any issue of ink-smudging while writing because their hand isn’t going over every written word. However, for a lefty, it’s exactly that. Once a lefty is done writing, the side of their hand will have some smudged ink on it, and more than likely the words won’t look too pretty either. This is why lefties should be encouraged to learn to use the underhand writing technique instead.
Crossword puzzles are really fun for everybody, except for lefties. Surprising, I know. There’s not only the big issue of smudging every row, but also the issue of covering up your own clues because they’re always printed to the left of the crossword grid. So, if you’re a lefty, you can throw out the idea of doing the crosswords in newspapers for fun. I guess this is why there are now crossword puzzle books made specifically for left-handers.
Spiral Bind Books
This is probably one of the most annoying things lefties have to put up with. Though you can write on both sides of a page, it is particularly difficult for a lefty to write on the right-hand side of a spiral bind book. Space concerns, spirals leaving impressions on your skin, really annoying stuff. There are a few notebooks made for left-handed people, so go ahead and gift some to your lefty friend!
Right-Handed Convenience for the Public
The more you travel around, the more you’ll start to notice the little ways public establishments and public transport are designed to be more convenient for right-handers. Here are 6 ways in which convenience shown to right-handed people is very evident.
Bank Pens Are Attached on the Right Side
Banks cater to a large number of people at a time, so it’s understandable why they would want to secure their pens in some way. However, there seems to be no thought put into a left-hander’s concerns when using a pen attached to the right side. For a righty, it’s very convenient, easy to use, and put back in its place. For a lefty, however, it’s pretty much hell. The cord attached to the pen will constantly get in the way of what you’re trying to write. The cord can also pull back if it’s pulled too far, which will cause a lefty some difficulty when writing. Sometimes a simple string is attached to the pen instead, which makes it a little easier. But, a lefty may prefer using their own, stress-free pen.
Public Transport Card Scanners
The subway and metro transport systems all over the world have been around for some time now. But here’s another case of convenience shown only to right-handed people. The ticket and card scanners are always on the right. Generally, when traveling, you’ll often find your non-dominant hand holding something while your dominant hand is free to open doors or scan your subway pass. Now, imagine how frustrating it is when your left hand is the only one that’s free and you need to awkwardly lean to the right to swipe in and move ahead. But whatever you do, don’t ever tap the card on the scanner to your left, you’ll be giving somebody else free entry.
Soda Holders in Theater Seats
It’s so common for people to keep their sodas in the holder to their right. For a lefty, more often than not, the soda holder to the left of the seat will be occupied by someone else’s drink. Telling them to move it to the other side, especially if you’re a lefty sitting somewhere in the middle, will be a frustrating task for all. But is this a theater issue or a people issue? Maybe both. This may be a really small problem in comparison to the rest, but it’s still an example of a mass righty mentality.
Car Cup Holders
If you’re driving in the States or Europe, then you’ll be seated to the left of the car. Again, this is perfectly fine for a right-hander, but for a lefty, inconvenient. The cup holders are always to the right of the driver, along with the music player and every other important button imaginable. However, if a lefty were to be driving in the UK or India, among other countries, then they won’t face any issues as driver seats are positioned to the right of the car with the cup holder on the left.
The World’s Tools and Appliances are Designed Only for Right Handers
While there are a few left-hand alternatives for some of these items cropping up nowadays, the majority of tools, appliances, and other devices seem to be designed specifically for right-handed users. Here are some major examples of right-hand-specific devices.
Credit Card Swipe Machines
Paying for something has gotten easier and easier over the years for everybody. But in this case, it’s not easy for everybody. Why exactly does the card swiping slot have to be on the right side of the machine? This is just plain annoying for lefties and something that can be easily modified. Today, thankfully, there seem to be more and more card machines that allow for card swipes at the top of the machines rather than favoring a side.
Let me just say this right now, there are lots of left-handed tin can openers available today. But back when they weren’t available, the struggle was real for lefties. Can openers always had the knob on the right while the can would be held on the left side of the opener. This is perfect for a righty to hold with their left hand and twist with their right. Lefties, however, would have to deal with the frustrating and probably painful way of awkwardly having their left hand overlap the right to twist open the can. The only other way to use it would be to adapt and use their right hands. To all those lefties who continued to use their left hands to twist open cans using right-handed openers, I salute you.
Whether it be regular scissors or ergonomic-handle scissors, a lefty won’t be able to cut anything with them. A pair of regular scissors work only for right-handed users because the blades move toward each other when they are pushed down to cut anything. Whereas, for lefties, the blades move apart instead, when pressure is applied. Ergonomic-handle scissors have the same issue and the fact that it is, quite literally, designed only for right hands. Luckily, there are plenty of left-handed scissors available.
A Right-hander’s Desk
A chair that only has a desk surface with arm support on its right side? For a right-hander, it works fine. For a lefty, it’s a sick joke at this point. No one ever had an issue with whole desks. Stop trying to make everything convenient only for righties!
Zipper Flaps on Pants
Have you ever noticed that, on every pair of pants, there’s a flap over the zipper on the left side? This makes it very inconvenient (yet again) for a left-hander to zip up and zip down using their left hand.
A computer mouse, something that almost every human in the world probably uses, is right-handed by default. Along with this, some mice are even shaped to be more comfortable or ergonomic to use specifically for right-handers. It took a while, but finally, there are now companies that produce left-handed computer mice too. You can also opt to swap your mouse’s buttons so that the index finger of the left hand is still used to left click.
On older keyboards, it was almost fair for both hands. Though the arrow keys were only on the right side of the keyboard, other important keys were spread evenly on both sides. But now, a number pad has also been added, on the right side. You’d think, after all these years of more and more left-handed products approaching the market, at least something as essential to use as a keyboard would be changed for left and right-hand use. But, what good would this do for business, right? There are a few left-handed keyboards in the market the choice is really poor.
Measuring tapes, when used by right-handers, will show the measurements in the right direction (pun intended) and straight. But, if used by lefties, the measurements will be seen upside down. Surely, manufacturers could make some space for the measurements to be written in both directions, right? Until then, a lefty would need to use a left-handed measuring tape.
Decals and Prints on Pens and Mugs
It’s nice to have a sticker or decal on pens. Many have something written on them, of course. But I just wish lefties wouldn’t have to be saddled with upside-down decals as they write. If you want to hear something crueler than this, here it is. We all like to have coffee mugs with fun or interesting prints on them. Though mugs can be held comfortably by right and left-handers, a righty will be seeing the print clearly while a lefty will see nothing or the unimportant end of the print. Where’s the fun in that? I guess the only way for lefties to get their way in this case is to customize their own plain white mugs.
Musical Instruments are Difficult for Lefties to Learn
The difficulties of learning to play an instrument may vary with every instrument. But there are a lot of niche and intricate struggles that only lefties will face when learning or playing certain instruments. Here are 2 major examples.
Before the 21st century, most guitars offered in stores were made and strung particularly for right-handed players. For lefties, this was an issue. Many were forced to overcome this challenge by adapting to play using right-handed guitars. Eventually, as prominent left-handed guitarists were on the rise, customized guitars became a norm. One of the most known musicians of the 20th century, Paul McCartney, had regular guitars converted for left-handed use. Nowadays, left-handed guitars are more commonly available, which gives lefties a choice when trying to find something comfortable to play.
While you can purchase left-handed guitars, drum sets can be arranged to suit right and left-handed playing positions. But, learning to play using a left-handed setup comes with big issues. If you’re a left-handed drummer, then finding a left-handed drum setup in a studio or on stage will be impossible. In fact, many left-handed players are forced to re-learn drumming in the right-handed position when playing gigs. There just isn’t any time to rearrange an entire set when your band is called on stage.
When it comes to double bass pedals, it will be very hard to find left-footed pedals that work for a left-handed drum arrangement. This will have to be modified for a lefty to use, which some may find expensive to get done. This is why many lefties find it to be less of a hassle, in the long run, to play the drums using their non-dominant hand on the hi-hat and cymbals instead, just like right-handed drummers.
Aside from left-handed struggles when playing these instruments, there is also the issue of finding left-handed instruments or instrument customization at reasonable prices. Due to low demand and the added effort of producing customized instruments, particularly for left-handers, music stores often price their left-handed instruments higher than their right-handed counterparts.
Sports Equipment for Lefties is Harder to Find and More Expensive
Certain sports are played with equipment made for right-handers. While a few of these can be found in left-handed versions, the range is limited and not all physical stores stock them all the time. Because of profitability, manufacturers tend to select only their more popular right-handed models to create left-handed versions.
One of the rules of golf is that you can hit the ball only with the face of the club. Therefore, most clubs are made for right-handers who will strike the ball from the right. That means lefties have to hunt down clubs that can strike the ball from the left or learn how to play right-handed.
Baseball Gloves and Mitts
Most people prefer to throw with their dominant hand so in baseball, you’d catch the ball with the other hand. This means it’s more common to find gloves and mitts to fit the left hand. But what about left-handers? You can get some baseball gloves for left-handed throwers but, as usual, the range is not as wide as what you’d find for a right-hander.
When it comes to bowling, the holes drilled into the ball at an alley are most likely for right-handers. If you’re a lefty looking to play, you may have to buy your own bowling ball that’s custom drilled for your left hand or try your luck at the alley and see if they have at least one for you.
As you can see, there are a ton of left-handed problems out there, something which the world seems to be understanding and listening to, but at a snail’s pace.