Lefties team up to fight domination of the right

In the past, left-handed people in Greece were sneered at by society. Older generations of lefties suffered at families’ and teachers’ hands by being forced to write with their «good,» right hand, sometimes with serious consequences such as dyslexia and other learning disabilities. «My parents are left-handed. They told me about some really traumatic experiences where they were forced to use their right hands, such as having their left arm tied behind their backs or being hit with a long stick,» says Alexandros Fatsis, who recently teamed up with his university friend Kyriakos Kostopoulos to open a store in central Athens (Harilaou Trikoupi and Feidiou streets) that sells utensils and other items exclusively for left-handed people. With everything from can-openers – the most popular item – to scissors, pencil sharpeners, coffeepots, pens and shirts, as well as games and puzzles designed for left-handed people, the store tries to make life easier for southpaws. «If a right-handed person was to try using scissors or buttoning a shirt with his or her left hand, they would know what it’s like to be left-handed. The whole world has been made by right-handed people for right-handed people,» explain the owners, who are students at the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA). «That is why we opened the store Aristeroheiras [Leftie], basically without any capital, but with a lot of enthusiasm and a little bit of financial assistance from OAED [the Manpower and Employment Organization]. It was a difficult task and the main problem was having to find each item from a different place. There are no manufacturers or importers of left-handed products in Greece. Therefore, we had to contact an entire list of companies abroad one at a time. One country for corkscrews, another for scissors and yet a third for special watches.» The store also sells amusing decorative items, such as a wall clock whose hands move counterclockwise. Studies show that left-handed people account for 10 percent of the world’s population and would be more had they not been subjected to such extreme pressure in the past to become ambidextrous. All children are born ambidextrous, of course, and the dominance of one side or another does not develop until about the age of 8. A research project conducted by the ergonomics class at the NTUA’s Business Organization and Management Department makes reference to products that are now being manufactured especially for left-handed people, such as a ruler on which the numbers go from right to left, or a guitar designed so that the right hand is on the neck.