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Left-handed press operator makes it work in a right-handed world

IMG_3554By CALVIN PYNN

calvin@southwesttimes.com

 

For most left-handed people, adapting to doing various things the right-handed way is a reality.

This even means making sure The Southwest Times is printed and ready to be delivered to our subscribers every day. Ray Carhart, the paper’s press manager and lifelong lefty, has been working on press machines most of his adult life, although he does it from a less familiar side every day.

“You have to do everything right handed,” Carhart said, with both hands stained black from the ink of that day’s paper. “It’s a right handed world.”

At the same time, Carhart said that almost all large machinery he’s worked with in his life have required to him to work right handed. However, he said this has never proved to be too much of a challenge for him.

“Machines are generally all right handed, and you operate them from that side, and it’s become second nature, more or less,” he said. “All the presses I’ve ever run are geared to right handed people, but I’ve always run them that way because you have to.”

Carhart said he can’t recall exactly what influenced him to use his left hand dominantly when he was younger, simply that it’s what nature seemed to dictate him to do.

“When I started doing things, I started doing them with my left hand,” Carhart said. “I guess you have a feeling for which one is going to do better for you.”

Growing up using his left hand as the leading one, Carhart said there have been few dominantly right-handed activities that have been difficult for him to do. Writing with his left hand instead of his right always seemed to work better for Carhart, however, one of his grade school teachers disagreed.

Carhart recalled a third grade teacher that tried to persuade him to use his right hand when she witnessed him writing with the left, a request that most left handed students had to deal with in the 1960’s.

“My mother had words with my third grade teacher over that,” Carhart said. “The woman, I guess, had a set thought in her head that all students were going to be right-handed, but this was 1963, and it was a totally different time.”

Another challenge Carhart recalled was having to teach himself to eat with his right handed after injuring his left arm in a car wreck in 1979.

“One of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do was learning to eat with my right hand,” Carhart said. “I thought I was going to starve to death.”

After recovering from surgery done on his arm and healing, Carhart said he went right back to eating with his left hand and he normally did.

Carhart also said that he can only throw a ball with his right hand. He played various sports when he was in school including baseball, in which he batted with his left hand.

“I guess it all depends on the way you swing and where all you’re power comes from,” Carhart said.

In addition, Carhart also recalled difficulty finding a right-handed baseball glove when he was younger, as most gloves were made to be right handed, and the rare left-handed ones were more expensive.

However, he said that his left hand dominance gave him the upper hand when playing football, as football players usually have to use their left side strength when in the game. Carhart also said that he can kick ambidextrously, and throw a Frisbee right handed.

Carhart is also a musician, and figured out how to play a right-handed bass guitar by turning it over and restringing it, then playing it left-handed as he normally would. He also plays keyboard and has ran sound for various shows, which he says has not been a challenge, as both hands are used equally.

Despite all the things he has had to adjust his hands to throughout his life, Carhart said working right-handed has never been a difficult challenge as learning to use his right hand is second nature to his dominant left-handedness.

“It’s the way of the world,” he said.

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