It’s funny how being left-handed is still something people find surprising. People can’t help but comment. They’ll say, “Oh, I didn’t know you were left-handed” or “Never trust a left-handed person” followed by hysterical laughter, or my personal favourite, “My friend’s cousin’s daughter is left-handed”. Oh really? How interesting, thanks for that info.
So let’s look at the every day problems faced by left-handers in the office and ways to deal with them.
Problem: You can be as careful as you like, but with the wrong pen, you will still end up with smudged handwriting and fingerprints all over important documents. It’s frustrating to see the pens that started out in your pen pot now living it large on a neighbouring desk because of their wet ink.
Solution: Ballpoints use thicker ink so they tend to be the safer option, but if it’s a smooth inky smudge-free line you desire, then a smooth inky smudge-free line you shall have. The Pentel EnerGel, the Uniball Jetstream and the Uniball SigNo are all smooth flowing pens with quick drying ink. You won’t want to be returning to Smudgeville any time soon, so it might be worth stocking up once you’ve chosen your favourite.
Problem: There are a few lucky lefties out there who are genuinely surprised to hear that spiral bound notebooks are an issue, but they are a nuisance for the rest of us. The wiring gets in the way, making the first few words of each page so shamefully untidy that even the office cat leaves the room in disgust.
Solution: You won’t be the only one thinking, “well I’ve bought the spiral so now I’m going to jolly well use it”. Make your point, use the notebook and pretend to enjoy it so it doesn’t think it’s won. But know when to end the misery. A nice soft touch casebound notebook should put a smile back on your face. And yes, it’s perfectly normal to secretly enjoy the sight of a right-hander struggling to untangle their keys, earphones or better still, both, from their spiral bound notebook 😉
Problem: Scissors trouble has to be one of the most common left-handed complaint. When used in the left hand, they rebel and play silly tricks. Instead of cutting, they crumple and trap the paper. They play hide and seek with the cutting line, and why is it necessary to turn the scissors around at least 4 times before finding a semi-comfortable way to hold them?
Solution: It’s not unheard of for a left hander to train themselves to use their right hand for certain tasks. For some jammy dodgers, it comes naturally. But if this sounds like too much hard work, then fear not. The handles on ambidextrous scissors are designed to be comfortable for everyone, although you will still have to hold them towards the right of your body in order to see where you’re cutting.
Problem: You reach out for the mouse and it’s not there. Huh? You look around, check your drawers, under the desk, and then you spot it. It’s to the right of your keyboard, of course it is. You move it to the left of the keyboard but it feels awkward in your hand and the buttons are back to front.
Solution: Inverting the buttons manually is a quick and easy solution if you are stuck with a right-handed mouse. It may not sit as snugly in your hand, but at least the buttons will do what you expect them to do. If you share a PC, repeatedly changing the settings may become a nuisance for all concerned, so investing in your very own left-handed mouse would be the better option. And anyway, fewer hands using the same mouse means less chance of catching the office lergy.
Problem: The days of bumping elbows with right-handed classmates are behind you. It’s the office life for you now, and you’ve been allocated your very own desk. You mark your territory with a few desk accessories and your drawers will soon be full of junk, but wait, what’s this? The drawers are to your right, along with all the spare desk space.
Solution: Scan the room for a more suitable desk, maybe someone is willing to swap with you. You could appeal to your boss’s better nature and present them with a link to your left-handed dream desk (it’s a long shot but you never know). Failing that, you’ll have to suck it up and do some reorganising. You’ll soon get used to the arrangement, and a keyboard is easily pushed to one side if you need extra space to write.
Handshakes (not a stationery problem but worth a mention…)
Problem: It’s handshake time and without thinking you offer your left hand. After some awkward hand fumbling and nervous laughter, you hold out your right hand and shake properly. Your interlocutor walks away looking confused and you crawl into the nearest dark corner to die of embarrassment. The world and his dog saw what just happened, and you know you’ll be hearing about this for weeks to come.
Solution: Good news: if this was the most humiliating 10 seconds of your office life, then chances are it won’t happen again. Each time you are faced with a handshake situation, memories will come flooding back and you will offer your right hand without hesitation. Should your left hand insist on embarrassing you time and time again, then just laugh it off. It’s not the end of the world, and your colleagues will soon run out of left-handed jokes – there can’t be that many, surely.
One last thing…
The right half of the brain controls the left half of the body. This means that only left-handed people are in their right mind.