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Is it just me… or is it a left-handed thing?

As a result of our question on Left Handed Kissing Confusion, we got loads of responses about other things left-handers find awkward but have never really connected with them being left-handed.   Apart from the problem of greeting people with a kiss and getting it wrong, we also received comments on other things that made us think….is it just me or is there more to it? Some of the things that were mentioned were:

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  • crossing other peoples paths/position on pavement
  • hugging
  • taking neighbours drink/bread roll at dining table
  • direction of work, decorating/painting rooms
  • being helped to put on a jacket
  • receiving change
  • putting children's socks and shoes on
  • using your left-hand as a point of reference when giving directions
  • feeling more comfortable sitting on the left hand side of things
  • putting belts on upside down
  • visualise things the opposite way around
  • trouble opening/locking locks
  • work stations flow the opposite way around
  • organising files “back to front”

It seems that a lot of the quirks that we have are a result of being left-handed in a right-handed world. Listed below are some of the responses we received from our Club Members when we asked . “Is it just me…?” See how many you identify with. The quirk that started it all was social kissing, and you can read a selection of anecdotes about that on our kissing confusion page.

 

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  • It was only recently  that I realised why, when I try clothes on in a shop and put them back on the rack, they're always facing the wrong way because, I'm LEFT-HANDED.~ Simone Hurst

I've noticed that even when loading the dishwasher, I start on the right, but my husband, who is right handed, loads on the left first, and folding sheets together is a nightmare, he folds the opposite to me, and if I don't remember the sheet gets twisted not folded. ~ Carol Wiltshire

  • One really embarrassing thing I do at dinner parties is drink from the person next to me's glass.   I just reach out with my left hand and lift and its not until I  see that  I'm getting strange looks that I realise what I'm doing.   I tell myself I won't do it again then I do.   Also the cheese board!   I just dread someone asking me to cut a piece for them because I just can't do it, it usually ends up on the table and I feel stupid.   What should be an enjoyable night out is something I dread. ~ Evelyn Rose
  • When first seated at a dinner party or restaurant table, I always have to wait for the person to my left to take a sip of their drink, or eat their bread roll to make sure I don't take the wrong one by mistake! ~ Lauren, UK
  • Microscopes!! The fine focus is always on the right!! its probably just me but I use them all day and it drives me mad (boss too mean to buy me a proper one). ~ Debbie, UK
  • Am also a glider pilot, and there are an unusual number of left-handed pilots, particularly the really good ones e.g. national & world champions. We tend to be better & more comfortable at turning right, whereas the right-handed pilots are better at turning to the left. ~ Sarah Platt

I just wonder if anyone out there is like me. When I'm out with friends walking I have to be on the left side of the road when walking and on the left of people when I'm talking otherwise I feel uneasy. ~ Jay

  • Receiving change from shop assistant – I nearly always find myself struggling to hold it without the coins falling all over the floor. (I'm talking about a combination of notes and coins). I think it's because people naturally hand change as if the person receiving will hold out their right hand – but I hold out my left. ~ Emma Hurley
  • I start painting a wall left to right, both the right handers in my family go right to left, and they couldn't figure out why I did it “backwards” as they called it. It wasn't backwards for me. They finally figured it out. It was “left-handed logic” as they call it every time they think I'm doing something the wrong way.
  • Just to let you know I have just been decorating and was papering the room from right to left and find it very difficult to work that way around rather than left to right ~ M. Izzard
  • Upside-down billWe had an email recently from LHC member June in Melbourne, Australia that struck a chord with us.  She says she is very good at adding up numbers upside down and likes adding up her bill in a cafe upside down faster than the waitress can!
  • June also told us that she has another skill…
    “Recently, under immense stress, I calmed myself by doing something I have done in the past as a fun exercise, but have no idea when or how I learnt to do it, but everyone thinks it is very strange. I write the figure 1 down, next line I double it-2, then again-4, then again and again on each line. I am up to about 40 figures in my answer at present. What is unusual is that I begin at the left-hand edge and quickly double all the figures across to the right side.  I sometimes check the answer by doing it the normal right to left, but I find my way much quicker. Everyone that has seen me do it is amazed.”
  • I don't know what the odds are, but I'd love to know how many left handed people are also directionally challenged like me  – i.e., have trouble with north south east and west and distances,  and are constantly having to make u-turns when going somewhere. I've had this problem all my life and have often been asked what it feels like to “be lost” and am I scared when it happens.  I just tell them, I don't have a problem with it, I just consider it going on an adventure and I eventually get where I going . It just takes a little bit longer and I consider the new things I see along the way a learning experience.~Dot Sale, Ontario, Canada.
  • When going to a cinema or theatre I am always drawn like a magnet to the left hand side to find a seat. If I have to sit on the right hand side I don't feel comfortable all night and just sit there thinking how much better I would enjoy the film etc if I was on the left. Is this common with other people? ~ Maureen Elliott
  • I put on a belt backwards, as in using my left hand and inserting it in the right side. Most of the time its hard to notice a difference, but there's belts out there, like ones with buckles that end up being upside down. I know it's not just me because two other left-handers I know do the exact same thing, so I was wondering how many other left-handers do this as well? ~ Scott Farrar, USA
  • I just bought this new belt with a designer buckle. I started putting the belt through the straps in my jeans as usual, but when I wanted to close the buckle, I discovered that the buckle logo was upside down. “How weird”, I said to myself, and then it dawned on me: this belt was designed for righties! Somehow I, as a lefty, have an innate impulse to thread a buckle through my jeans straps beginning at the opposite side from that of a RH! (My old belt didn't cause me any trouble of this sort, since it didn't matter in what way you turned the buckle). Before the time of the CDs, when one still had LP records, I used to have mine on a shelf beneath my record player. I've always been meticulous about sorting  things alphabetically, and I used to do that with my records, too. Somehow, though, my friends would consider my “shelf order” strange, since I put all artists whose name/group name  began with an “A”, at the right-hand side of the shelf, which was totally natural to me. Couldn't get it what was so strange about that, until recently when I came to think of the fact that it must have been a lefty instinct, to do it “the RIGHT way round”! 🙂 ~ Helene, Sweden

Among a million of things I just can't do in this right-handed world, here's one that made me really ask to myself….is it just me? I am just not able to uncork a bottle of wine, simply 'cause I unscrew in the wrong direction. The cork opener never makes it into the cork, no matter how hard I try to push it! My husband makes fun of me, saying that I always use my left-handedness as an excuse just because I'm not able to do stuff….Will they ever understand? ~Sara, Italy

  • When taking “hanging files” (where the papers are laid sideways) out of filing cabinets and opening them up, the papers are always upside down for me when a right-hander has been doing the filing. I know now that I mustn't slip new papers into hanging files without first checking the direction of the other pages – which are always upside down to my way of thinking! Luckily, I have a personal filing cabinet, where only I file the papers, so every file opens with documents the correct way up for me! ~ Laura, UK
  • Myself and one of my best friends were trying on clothes and she wanted to try on the shorts I was wearing-with a belt. When she got them on and was trying to use the belt, she was having trouble getting it undone so she could do it. She made the comment “you and your left handedness.” I had not realized she was having trouble with doing the belt until she said that and I asked what she meant. Evidently, I had my belt “backwards”. I have to wonder how many other “leftisms” there are that we (lefties) are unaware of? ~ Anonymous, USA
  • It seems my right-handed husband and four kids have all “learned” from me! My husband learned to change and dress our four children the left-handed way since I had the baby's rooms set up for my convenience. Kitchen activities were also done “my” way. My kids are now in their 20's and my daughter commented that she does many activities like a lefty because she learned from me. She says it's my fault she's all messed up but I just tell her I did her a favour because she's skilled with both hands! Anything we leftie's teach our kids or spouses will be noticed by other right-handed people! ~ Doreen Place
  • I have recently realised that one reason I have difficulty with the new chip and pin system is that I put my card in “the wrong way round” – the automatic way for me as a left-handed person but not for the machine – created by and for right-handed people I think?Is this something lots of you have already discovered?! ~ Barbara Robinson
  • I just wanted to say I felt so much better after reading all the things we left handers have in common.   I constantly have problems with handshakes, belts, crossing someone's path (am I supposed to go to the right of them or to the left?) and of course the kissing!   I also appreciated the people who visualize things in the opposite way.   I recently graduated from law school and I was once told by a professor that although I reached the right conclusion I came at the problem with “backward thinking logic”.   I also organized all of my notebooks in school so that they opened backwards; my classmates never wanted to borrow notes! I also have problems with outside water faucets — I always try to turn it left to turn it off.   And when I read magazines I always flip through them back to front. ~Lesley Holloway
  • The quirk I had trouble with wouldn't have been noticed if I hadn't been in the military (US Air Force). As a lefty, I'm more comfortable carrying my purse on my right shoulder, leaving my left arm free. In fact, I find it almost impossible to keep a shoulder bag ON my left shoulder when I try. Here's the trouble — salutes are done with the right hand and thus, the right arm must be free at all times. It's even in the regulations that purses, umbrellas, briefcases, etc., should all be carried on the left. I had trouble with that for the entire time I was in the Air Force. I tended to just carry my purses in my left hand (even the shoulder bags), as they would never stay on the shoulder. Very frustrating! My next comment concerns the preference for sitting on the left side of theaters. I don't feel uncomfortable if I have to sit on the right side, but I do tend to automatically go to the left when entering a theater. This turns out to be an advantage. Studies have shown that the large majority of the population goes to the right when a choice is presented (like going into a theater or choosing from two lines for an amusement park ride) — probably due to handedness. An authority on Disney World has even put into his book about the Park that you'll spend much less time standing in line if you veer to the left when presented with two lines for the ride! So, go with your quirk and veer to the left — it will almost assuredly be quicker/shorter/less-crowded over there! ~ Lynn, Denver, CO USA
  • Regarding shaking with the left hand, I am both a lefty and in the Guides. Guides and Scouts around the world shake left handed, which is perfectly natural to me. Unfortunately it makes things even harder when I have to shake hands in a non-Guiding situation, I am even less likely to remember to offer my right hand. This has meant that in professional situations, I've found out that quite senior people were Scouts or Guides and/or left handed and ended up leaving my boss totally out of the conversation as we then talk about handedness or Scouting. ~A. Kerr

Is it just me? Everything at my workstation in my job flows right to left! It drives my co-workers crazy when they come looking for something at my area. They think my workstation set up is “backwards”. I just assumed its a “leftie” quirk. Same thing in my kitchen by the way…. ~ Colleen, USA

 

  • I always find that if I have to flick through a book I hold it in my right hand and flick the pages with my left starting at the back of the book. It drives me insane when I want to use a dictionary because I think of the alphabet going forwards but then I'm flicking with the letters going backwards. Whenever I fill up my motorbike I have to go to a pump that is on my left other wise it just doesn't feel right. Unfortunately my car has the fuel cap on the right hand side and I frequently get myself tangled up with the pumps. I also us one of those flip open wallets and always find it difficult to put notes and credit cards away without turning it upside down then everything ends up falling out! ~ Pauline Woodhall, UK
  • A constant annoyance for me is the placement of receipts when signing credit card transactions. Cashiers almost always angle the receipt towards my right hand, so I inevitably have to re-angle it towards my left hand before signing. This can sometimes be a problem if the cashier keeps a finger on the receipt (usually due to a draft from a fan or doorway). The most amazing incident of this nature was a few months ago in a well known UK DIY store: the cashier placed the receipt angled towards my right hand, I re-angled the receipt towards my left, but before I could put pen to paper the cashier re-angled the receipt towards my right again! ~ Michele Wilkinson, Cambs
  • My gripe is with the till desks, usually petrol stations, that secure the pen for the signing of the receipt with a piece of tatty string that is attached to what ever on the right side and too short for the lefthander. The assistant also offers the receipt to me addressing my right hand. I have found that banks are no better they just have posh ball chain that’s too short instead of string ~ Bob Beaney
  • I was recently looking into purchasing a new horse.   When  I lifted his leg to look at his hoof he  tried to kick out.   This had never happened to me  with my other two horses so I thought there was something wrong.   The owner informed me that I was picking  up his hoof by touching the inside of his leg.   He said most people touch the horse on the outside of the leg and this is why he was spooked.   I never realized it but being left-handed I naturally reach inside the leg, whereas it is awkward  for a right-handed person  to reach inside, so therefore would pick up the leg from the outside. Also, when I was a kid, my mom asked me to put up the pencil sharpener (one of those crank kinds).   I did as I was told.   A few days later my dad complained that he could not sharpen his pencil as the sharpener was upside down!!! ~ Linda Vonhof, Westhampton Beach, NY
  • Is it me? i'm the only left hander at college, and if I've been using the computers I get a lot of complaints because the mouse is on the wrong side of the computer for the boring people of this world.~ Bev Syson, Ilkeston
  • My ex-husband and I moved to a new home and since he was travelling for work I had to unpack everything.   We lived in that house for 3 ½ years and he complained the whole time that nothing was in the right” place.  I just kept saying welcome to my world” with a big smile on my face.   I hadn’t even realized I had set everything up left-handed – I just put everything where is was supposed to go. ~ Jodi Olson
  • When I am drinking especially in a pub or club I feel that if I don't hold the glass in my left hand that I am not getting the full enjoyment of the drink. Sometimes I find that I am drinking with my right hand and realise that something is not going quite right and have to change! ~ David Robinson

It works the same way when walking past someone but don't know which side to let them pass you on, so you end up doing a little dance and bounce on both feet before one person takes the lead and chooses a side. the difference is, it's with your neck and so you end up looking stupider! Although it can be quite humorous ~ Laura Piplica, UK

  • Whenever I read a book and the author describes a scene, I always find later, as the plot unfolds that I have visualised it completely the wrong way round, as a mirror image. Is it me? ~ Linda Dainton, UK
  • Is it only me? I run my own business from home which does involve sending information by post to prospective clients. When the information I send runs to more than one page I like everyone else staple the pages together. Often, too often the actual staple doesn’t penetrate the paper. Is this a fault that other left handers have encountered and if it is how have they overcome this annoying problem?~ Bob Westecott
  • I joined a dance class (Line-Dancing) and had a hard time following everyone…All the steps were lead on the right foot , Of course I instinctively started on my left and I was always a step behind everyone…I was so ashamed, I couldn't keep up. ~ Marty
  • Handshakes! I naturally put out my left hand…d'oh! Oh the trials of living in a right handed world… ~ Nancy Hopkins, UK
  • I have difficulties with locks and keys is it just me ? ~ Frances Todd, UK
  • Walking in the out door. I am always doing this. It drives my son crazy! Or walking on the wrong side of the staircase. ~ Cindy Timo
  • I was wondering , growing up was it difficult for you to learn how to tie your shoes properly? Especially learning from a rightie? I ended up making two bunny ears and tying them together rather than the loop around and pull. Also making check marks (ticks). Did people tell you growing up checking each others papers that your checks were “backwards”? ~ Jennifer, The Bronx
  • I used to hold all my four children on my right side, leaving my left hand (a working one) free. So I am absolutely sure that all the discussions about women carrying their babies on their left side so that children could hear their mothers' hearts beating are just nonsense! It is just a matter of right- or left-handedness. ~ Irina Radetskaya, Russia

Thank you to everyone who responded to our question so far – it is great to be part of such a helpful worldwide community of left-handers and we look forward to receiving your further comments – please use the form below.

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745 comments on “Is it Me?
  1. Carolyn Hodges says:

    When the bank said our house payment had not been paid, I went in to resolve it, since we had. When the folder was opened I could see the probkem upside down, the house payment was entered on the pickup payment, not due for another week. Have always been able to read upside down.I think I have had fewer lefthand problems by taking piano lessons from 6 years to 18 years. Made me more ambidexterous.

  2. Ken Johnson says:

    It’s easier for me to use a dictionary, flipping through pages, if I hold it upside down.

  3. Jan Hurst-Nicholson says:

    Has anyone else noticed that if you use a floor mop or similar with a screw-on handle that the handle begins to unscrew as you are using it? I had to glue the handle of one mop as it nearly drove me crazy.

  4. Jan Hurst-Nicholson says:

    I have a problem using my digital camera. The on/off button is on the left and the button for taking the picture is on the right. Numerous times I’ve carefully lined up a picture, got everyone to smile, waited for the flash to adjust – and then used my left hand and pressed the ‘off’ button by mistake. Very annoying to have to start all over again.

  5. Anne Duncombe says:

    I had my kitchen designed to suit me, so the utensil drawers are on the left of the sink and cooker, and the fridge opens right to left. The top of my right hip has a ‘ledge’ from carrying toddlers, and when at work, loads of boxes. I always keep my left hand free. Am I the only one who can drive a right hand drive car, but not a left hand drive car? Well wasn’t the right hand drive car designed for us lefties? In my family, one parent a leftie and 50/50 the children. Sadly fewer in the next generation

  6. Duncan Pohl says:

    I can identify with nearly every situation described by the others – with the exception that I’ve always had a good sense of direction. The one thing I didn’t see mentioned here is that when I go to an art gallery or museum or any other exposition, I always naturally start off to my left – and find myself going contrary to nearly everyone else.

  7. Monique Williams says:

    When on a date or sitting linear with others. I ALWAYS have to make an announcement to allow me to sit to the far left. That way I avoid bumping elbows with others, which is so annoying. When I was younger, I was teased about not being able to scoop ice cream properly.

  8. Catherine Doody says:

    my biggest trouble has been with knives to cut bread vegetables meat as I have bread , cheese anything to cut the other way on to everybody else and unless the blade on the knife is serrated both sides I cannot cut with them as I use my left hand it is very frustrating because if you want to buy a new knife you cannot see the blade because of the way its wrapped as they are classed as a dangerous weapon which is fair enough but unless I can see the blade I can’t tell if I can use it , strangely enough my daughter is left handed but cuts with her right hand so doesn’t have the same problem , also the way I tick things is left handed I just find it impossible to tick the other way it’s just not natural , all my workmates know this now so it’s not a problem .

  9. Mark says:

    When My wife locks our shed and I go to open it the lock is wrong way round for key.also my PC in work colleagues move my mouse from “wrong” side to use as and have a moan and don’t put it back. I have my mouse clicks switched which means they get completely confused

  10. alexander says:

    Whenever I did relay races with track and field as a kid, everyone else was right handed and I was the only one who had trouble passing and receiving the baton. It was really annoying but I eventually figured out how to do it right handed.

  11. Patt Behler says:

    Thanks for putting me on the mailing list! I feel at home already. I am definitely a lefty in many parts of my actions. I want to make a comment about left handed scissors. When I was taking a class in bookmaking in college many years ago, the teacher advised me to check with the college book store to buy a pair of left handed scissors. I did and found them a great help in that class. I have continued using them for general sewing and other purposes for many years and am so glad that someone recognized the advantage for lefthanders in this respect. It does make a great difference in comfort and ability.

    • Carolyn Hodges says:

      My grandmom was a lefty so my granddad got me a pair of left haded scissirs like he got her but I could not use them having learned to use my mother’s right handed ones for paper, kitchen or sewing.

  12. Emilee says:

    I am 100% left handed and have been that way since I was born, but do any other lefties use both hands when drawing with sidewalk chalk, or is it just me?

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