It’s a right-handed world

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By: Lexi Muir <lmuir@hilite.org>

Bumping elbows with the person to her left, junior Erika Petruzzi struggles to write on the spiral notebook in front of her.

Petruzzi has struggled with this her whole life. She struggles not because she has a disability, or a broken arm or similar disabilities, but simply because Petruzzi is left-handed.

“Spiral notebooks have always been a pain,” Petruzzi said. “It’s either that, or it smears and I get marker on my hand.”

According to handanalysis.com, the percentage of left-handed people in the world is not certain, but most estimates hover around 10 percent.

The only major disadvantage for left-handers, because they are a minority group, is the fact that they must live in a world designed for right-handers.

They suffer disadvantages as well as frustration and inconvenience in our right-handed world.

“Gym class was also frustrating for me,” Petruzzi said. “There was never anything for left-handers, like left-handed mitts. I would search forever for a left-handed mitt but I could never find one.”

Along with difficulties in gym class, problems in school and everyday life also arose for Petruzzi from being left-handed.

“Writing is just annoying, but eating is even harder than writing,” Petruzzi said. “It’s just really difficult when I have to sit next to someone who is right-handed. They always get mad because I bump their elbow, but there’s nothing I can do about it.”

Growing up, Petruzzi said she remembers the hardest part was how much she got made fun of by her peers.

“People thought I wrote weird, so they would make fun of me. It didn’t bother me, though, I thought it was cool.”

She said, “They would sometimes tell me rumors about left-handed people, like that if you were left-handed it meant that you ate your twin while in the womb. Everyone just thought it was weird.”

Government teacher Joe Stuelpe grew up using both his left and his right hand.

“I write with my right, eat with my right, shoot a basketball with my left, throw with my left, bat right and play tennis right,” he said. “That’s just how it came naturally.”

Petruzzi said, “They would say ‘is anyone left-handed?’ and I would always get singled out so they could teach me how to do stuff. I always hated that. Softball was the worst for me, because everything you do in softball is totally opposite from what right-handers do.”

Now, Petruzzi said that being left-handed is a huge advantage for her in softball, whereas in the beginning it seemed like a disadvantage.

“Left-handers are really rare. They have different qualities than right-handers in softball. It’s just a really big advantage,” she said.

Stuelpe said that he also feels more at an advantage because he is ambidextrous.

“It is easier for me to shoot left-handed lay-ups,” he said.

According to Stuelpe, one disadvantage is that he is limited to some activities. Because he uses both hands, sometimes he cannot participate in certain activities because he is not sure which hand he would use.

“I don’t golf, but if anyone ever asked me to, I couldn’t go. I don’t know if I would golf left-handed or right, so I just don’t do it,” he said.

Petruzzi and Stuelpe both said that they feel like they live in a “right-handed” world. “Everything is made for right-handers,” Stuelpe said.

“When you take college courses, they use folded up seats, and left-handers can’t even use them,” he said. “Most desks here are even made for right-handers, I think there’s a few made for (left-handers) in the block room, but other than that the desks are made for (right-handers).”

Petruzzi said, “Everything is set for right-handers. Notebooks are made for them, desks are made for them, and coaches explain stuff the way (right-handers) would do it. I’ve learned to ignore all that and try to have fun with (being left-handed).”

She said, “People jokingly make fun of lefties because they are different, but that’s so stupid. We use a different hand, that’s all. I hope (left-handers) don’t let what people say affect them. We’re the same as right-handers; we just use a different hand.”

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