Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Adult annoyances: Pens, part 2

In the first part about pens, I talked about their placement in offices.  If that were the only problem, it would be tolerable, but there is a greater problem with ALL pens that affects all left handed people.

Do you have a suitcase with wheels on the bottom?  Take it out, extend the handle and walk with it.

No, not by pulling it.  Put the suitcase in front of you and push it.  Is it awkward to walk with it while pushing it?

Welcome to the world of left handedness and pens.

Ball point pens (which most pens are) are designed to be pulled by the right hand, from left to right across the page.  When a left handed person attempts to write, the writer is forced to push the pen.

Unlike suitcases which merely change direction, a pen digs into the paper.  Without practice and experience, this can lead to blotting, to tearing of the paper because of poor pen design.  I am only able to write with ball points because I have a fine touch gained through a lifetime of practice.  If you are curious, I prefer fine point pens (0.7mm) because the nib is smaller and more controllable.

There are pens designed for left handed people, but they are expensive and usually obtainable only through internet companies.  One is the Yoropen which has the nib at a different angle from the shaft of the pen.  It is designed to prevent the pen from digging into the paper while the arm is kept in a good position for writing.

This company,, sells fountain pens for calligraphy.  The customer is asked for how the pen is held (hook handed, underwriting, etc.).  I suspect that there aren't that many types of pens, but rather some customers receive right handed pens depending on how the customer holds them.  That would be especially true for hook handed writers.

These are but two companies that sell such pens.  If you search, you will find more.

Personally, my single greatest annoyance with pens isn't the design of the pen.  It's the ink which is usually slow drying.  For a right handed writer, inks dry quickly enough that by the time the hand reaches the next line, the ink is dry.  But for a left handed writer, the hand contacts the word immediately after it is written, and if the ink is slow drying, it will lead to smudging and blue or black hands.

Unfortunately, felt tip pens are not the answer.  Wide point felts are not fine enough for writing, and fine point felt tip pens are too fragile to be pushed with regularity.  Pencils are the best solution for left handed writing (no smudging, no ripping of paper, not fragile) but unfortunately they are not accepted in many professional environments.

This is another reason I prefer fine point pens.  There is less ink on the page with a finer line, thus it dries quicker.  And a fine point tends to make a deeper and narrower groove in the paper than a medium point, thus it is less likely the ink will touch the hand.  Your kilometrage will vary.

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