A left hook for the southpaw: catering to “Lefty” customers and employees

The publishers of a recently released book "The Puzzle of Left-Handedness"  point out that author and science journalist Rik Smits offers an "enlightening, engaging, and entertaining odyssey through the puzzles and paradoxes, theories and myths, of left-handed lore." and suggest that it be "read with both hands". 

While the book is an attempt dispelling the surprisingly enduring myths about lefties from a scientific perspective it does not touch upon the quotidian issues faced by southpaws as they go about life. That was better addressed, perhaps unintentionally, by Lewis Carroll in Through the Looking Glass where Alice finds herself in a world in which everything is backwards. Objects that had been on her right side are now located to the left and doors that swing in open out.

The fact that nearly half of all US presidents have been left-handed despite southpaws constituting a mere 15% of the population does not seem to have made much of a difference to improving the everyday lives of the average lefty. A few service industry corporates did note the need to adjust for those customers but only as an April Fool joke! Burger King did that twice over the past decade with a press release touting the rolling out of a "left handed whopper" that featured "lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles, mayonnaise, ketchup and 4-ounce meat patty, but the condiments have been rotated 180 degrees, skewing the weight to the left."

The hospitality industry was not to be outdone with this group offering " Exclusive Left-Hand Friendlyrooms with features to optimize a traveler’s left-handedness." only to quickly state that it in fact was an April Fool’s Joke while suggesting that their "rooms cater to all people no matter what their dominant hand is." 

But there are issues that remain unaddressed both for customers and (particularly) employees who are left-handed. These include toilet tissue holders in hotel bathrooms that are more often than not for the convenience of "regular" right-handed customers to writing desks with sockets and hook-ups that require southpaws to stretch more than others. 

Lefty hospitality employees  encounter seemingly (to non lefties) niggling issues that range from difficulties in dealing with conveyor belts in banquet kitchens to holding up serving trays with the left hand as is required for Silver or Russian service not to mention opening a wine bottle with a cocksrew opener that will only turn the "right" way.

It seems as if when it comes to serving lefties, whether employees or customers, all that is delivered is a metaphorical left hook to keep the issue down and out. 



Published by

Vijay Dandapani

Co-founder and president of a New York based hotel company for 24 years. Grew the firm to five hotels in Manhattan and also developed a greenfield project at MacArthur airport, New York. Speaker at numerous prestigious forums including Economy Hotels World Asia, Lodging Conference, NYU, Columbia University Real Estate Roundtable, Baruch College's Zicklin School and ALIS. President and ceo of New York City Hotel Association since January 2017.