Anything Left-Handed > Blog Posts > Lefty info > Left handed life > Pens chained on wrong side for lefthanders

Pens chained on wrong side for lefthanders

In a lot of places like post offices and banks you find pens chained to the desk or counter and of course they are chained to the right hand side and usually on a chain so short that they cannot be used by lefthanders!   We have complained about this before but have been reminded about it by Left Handers Club member David D who sent us this email:

Hello Keith and Lauren,

I'll just mention an argument I got into last week with a left-handed theme.

I was sending something at our local Post Office by special delivery.     I had to sign a slip to confirm my name and address in case of problems delivering the package.     The pen for signing was on the right-hand side of the counter on a short chain.     As it would have meant twisting into an awkward position, I used my own pen.     The lady behind the counter said “Why not use our pen?”.     I said “Because it's on the wrong side of the counter for me, it's discriminating against left-handers”.  

The sub-postmaster now joined in and said “You're talking rubbish”.     I said “I'm not talking rubbish, it's awkward for a left-hander to write with the pen on the right-hand side, and don't speak to a customer like that”.     He said “I'm left-handed and it doesn't bother me”.     He of course is on the other side of the counter and wouldn't have a chained pen to use.     He started to raise his voice and I said “Right, I'm going to make a complaint to your superiors, what's your name?”.     He said “It's on the front of the counter” in a supercilious voice.     I could see “Chris” in tiny letters which I could just about read, not in an obvious position.     He then said “What's your name?”.     I gave my full name and said “I don't mind anybody knowing my name, what's YOUR surname?”.     He wouldn't give it!     The lady now said “I think you'd better go, you're upsetting the other customers”.       None of the other customers looked upset.

When I got home I sent off an email to Royal Mail to say I had been spoken to rudely by one of their staff and made a suggestion that pens are placed in a better position for left-handers.     We'll see what happens.

Best wishes, David Dawber.

Quite apart from the bad attitude and rudeness of the Post Office staff member, we think this is an outrageous story!     Our thanks to David for taking the time to share and standing up for us lefthanders and if you have had similar experiences please let us know by leaving a comment below.



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20 comments on “Pens chained on wrong side for lefthanders
  1. Anne says:

    Quite a few stores have a credit card reader mounted for customer use at the check out. The ‘pens’ used to sign the screen are also attached to the reader unit by a short tether. I frequently have a hard time signing with it. I usually make a ‘anti-left-hander’ comment, and the cashier usually gives me a ‘whatever’ grunt. Would it break the bank to make the tethers a little longer?!?

    Re: Post Office rudeness~ We have the same, or worse, attitudes with our postal clerks here in the US. They deserve to go out of business!

    Go Lefties!

    Anne Fleischmann

  2. Collin says:

    Their should be a sliding mechanism so letys and rightys can use it without hassle.

  3. Christine says:

    My building society once asked me to stop playing with the pen and leave it where it belonged, ” its there so customers to use” I said I was a customer and I needed to use it so I had to move it the the left side. One of the cashiers said she had asked about pens been pens placed at both sides as she too was left handed. Apparently it wasn’t company policy to have it placed on the WRONG side. I still slide it across the counter and leave it on the “wrong” side when I go in. Us lefties need to have our say and stick together, wrong side indeed. I wonder how long attitudes, service and equipment would change if all right handers had to use just left handed items, not long I should think.

  4. Christine says:

    I still have problems with anything that has a side tear our slip, especially cheques. I have to turn my cheque book upside down to tear it out, otherwise i end up tearing it in half. When i asked my bank if they did left handed cheque books I was told NO. There is no call for them, nobody ever asks. I told them, how can no-one ask when I’m a customer and I was asking, the cashier just shrugged her shoulders and suggested i change banks to one that did do left handed cheque books. So much for caring and assisting your clients.

  5. john gillett says:

    I thought the pens were tethered on the RHS because righties steal them. But is that why there’s none on our side because the righties have had ours too?

  6. Andrew says:

    Some branches of my bank have the pen central (on the desks away from the counter, they’re always on the right at the counter). I too pull experimentally on the string to show that the pen won’t reach, I have on occasion actually gone to the next window on the right and used the pen from the window/cashier I’ve just left so that I end up with a pen on my left. Why do they make the string/chain so short? And why do some cashiers (particularly in petrol stations) hold onto the docket they want you to sign so you can’t turn it to a suitable angle? Do they think you’re going to steal a silly little piece of paper? (Mind you, that’s just a rant about cashiers, it must be equally infuriating for “righties”, as the docket is usually held captive nearer the cashier than the customer!)

  7. Wil says:

    At my bank here in Michigan they have an electronic signature pad with the pen attached on the right, so I just turn the pad around so the pen is attached on the left and sign my name, it always comes out upside down on their display and my receipt. They always question it, but none have had me redo it with the pad turned back around.

    • John says:

      I have had the misfortune to Break or Dismember such items, due to their inconvenience for a Left handed person, by trying to turn them to a more comfortable and usable position.

      • Anne says:

        It’s not your misfortune– it’s their stupidity, making the tethers so short! Maybe if we break enough of them, the industry will get the message!

  8. Kagema Gichuhi says:

    Signing problems over the counter? Oh yes. In all instances that I remember, I’ve smiled at the person on the other side, turned the paper or book to sign, used my own pen and pre-empted them by pleasantly announcing that I am left handed. Most have looked at me with a ‘wow’ expression, and I’ve walked away feeling very good about myself!!

  9. Namitha says:

    Most government offices in India are pretty hassle-free – they don’t have the pens to begin with! No pen, no cord, no trouble. In the malls though, it is a nightmare signing credit card payment slips because of the awkward way the cashier hands the slip and the pen over to you – they always fall out when I reach out for them.
    I have never had a problem with my computer mouse – I quite like it right-handed. It makes it easier to multi-task – I can eat/take notes/text/do whatever I want to do and do my work on the computer at the same time!

    • gillian says:

      I agree about computer mouses [mice?] It also doesn’t matter if you are using too long and get cramp, if it’s only your right hand.

  10. Sue says:

    Just everything in my life I had to make do with living in a right handed world, but the one place I have been able to make my life easier is my work computer. I have made everything left handed…the mouse on the left side and even the mouse button is now set up for me. Well, I get to have a chuckle when someone needs my computer and they end up pressing all the wrong buttons. A rightie gets to live in my world for a brief moment. 🙂

  11. K9 says:

    Complain about it? Nah. I don’t have trouble with this in banks and post offices, in part because I usually carry a pen. I prefer fine points, businesses are cheap and buy medium point pens.

    When I pen is placed with right hand bias and I have to use it, my response is to start pulling the cord or chain – not hard enough to break it, but enough to worry the person behind the counter. I have on occasion broken such chains, strings and cords, or the pen itself broke, but never deliberately. I do it visibly to make the point.

    If the pen is attached to a movable object, then I will move it – preferably, one that is large and difficult for the employee to move back.

    It’s amazing how quickly they will grasp the point and pull out a pen from their desk and hand it to me when something of theirs appears to be at risk of breaking.

  12. Sarah says:

    I always carry my own pen now. Some banks do have two chained pens, one on either side, but I’ve never seen them in Post Offices. I’m sorry you had such an awful experience with them, I hope you get the outcome you wanted.

  13. koolperson99 says:

    Credit card machines are my favorite… I just do it righty. Like the computers can actually read your signatures on the darn things anyway!

  14. Lucy says:

    I was just complaining about this to a leftie friend a couple of weeks ago… I am thankful for the invention of chip and pin bank cards as it means less signing of things in shops!

  15. John W says:

    I found this website after seeing a refrence to the business in David Wolman’s “A Left-Hand Turn Around the World” (which I just finished reading.

    Regarding access by left handers, I’ve discovered some interesting things in the SouthWest of the US where I live. The Office Depot store actually has the special signature pen on the left side of the panel! However, when using computers – especially those of right-handers or the ones in hotel business offices available for public use – the mouse always seems to be on the right – and, typically, has such a short cord so that it is difficult to drag to a left handed position.

    I was just in a San Francisco hotel and had a terrible job of uncurling the mouse cord from behind the screen, pulling on it to see if there was some slack, and finally setting over on the left side of the keyboard. Oh the things we lefties have to put up with…….

  16. Suzanne says:

    In Holland we don’t have this problem to often since the chains are long enough or they are not clued to the counter. Hoever the one from Royal Mail could have been more friendly to you.

    We lefties are always left out on certain things.

  17. Wendy says:

    I had this trouble last week. i had to twist around at a strange angle so that I could fill in the customs slip on a package i was sending.

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