Armen Chakmakjian

I didn’t know you were lefty? I’m not…

In Random on December 11, 2014 at 3:01 pm

So this article was posted on LinkedIn about the earnings potential of left handed people.  It was decidedly negative, contradicting all kinds of leftiness-advantage articles I’ve read over the years.

I thought the message of the article kinda strange since I knew at least several lefties that were very smart and wildly successful, and you found out after the success that they were lefty.  I wasn’t sure if I could attribute their success to the left handedness.  I know my mother is a lefty who was converted to writing righty in school in the old country, she sew’s lefty though..  My older son is a lefty, although he bats and throws righty.  Several of my very successful friends from high school and college are lefties, exceeding any successes I’ve had by several leaps and bounds.   Then of course the 4 of the last 6 elected presidents have been lefty.

In my own case, I’m hard-righty.  However, about 30 years ago, working in the hardware labs at MLO5 at Digital, I took advantage of a feature of DECWindows.  I did this because I’m so right-handed, that everything ended up on the right side of my keyboard.  Stickies, pen, coffee cup, the last thing I was reading, lunch, or my gloves if I just came in from outside.  Everything. This was particularly difficult in a lab since there was a lot of equipment on the benches, on the right side also. So I decided that the mouse was the best thing to move to the other side as it was the least intrusive thing, and since i play the guitar and saxophone normal righty, I was used to using my left hand fingers do things.

Just to confuse matters, as I flipped my mouse to the left side of the keyboard, I also flipped around the mouse buttons to mirror the righty logic.  To the engineer in me this was the logical thing to do.  Why wouldn’t I flip the buttons…even though the mice at that point were ergonomically designed for righties.  Point with your pointer finger made sense to me.

This would always cause consternation in the other engineers who would show up at any of the ubiquitous workstations we had around: “Dammit! Armen was here”.   It was bad enough for the righty’s in general, but the few lefties in the crowd who ventured to move the mouse to the other side would get confused too, because of my reversal of the mouse buttons.

When touchpads became ubiquitous on laptops, I’d change the mouse buttons too.  This was usually worse than the mouse because now people couldn’t figure out what to do.  Eventually with the apple touchpad, the pull-right gesture was absorbed into a two-finger tap which could be done regardless of handedness.  However, over the last few years, people would come into my work area and wanted to use my machine, or saw me using my lefty touchpad setup, the invariable comment would be:

“I didn’t know you were a lefty!”

“I’m not, I’m extremely right handed.”

“So…why are you using your computer lefty?”

and I proceed with the explanation I already gave above.  This usually elicited a puzzled look, usually eyes squinting as if it was and oddity in a Ripley’s museum; one you couldn’t categorize easily into your list of patterns of known human behaviors.

Anyway, I’m not sure I believe that lefties are more prone to creativity or success or as this article points out less.  The only thing that I could agree with in the article was the lefties (and those who are ambidextrous) have an advantage over normal people in one area, and that is in hand to hand combat.   The movie “The Princess Bride” has an amusing scene making fun of this.

Just another of the random thoughts going through my brain.


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