Saturday, November 10, 2007

Left and Right

[evoked by the Sunday Scribblings prompt, "Left & RIght"]


I learned not to be afraid of hand tools when I was a kid. Early on we were introduced to:
  • brooms (push broom for the back porch/deck, and a regular broom for inside and the front walk),
  • rakes with which to wrangle fallen leaves,
  • a dandelion digger, because Mom didn't like those yellow weeds in her lawn,
  • sledge hammer to pound in garden stakes,
  • hoes and trowels, to help Daddy in the garden,
  • small knives used to trim radishes from that garden
R taught me to "saw to a line" using a big saw and the hand-crankled vise in his garage.

I knew how to hold a hammer. I knew the difference between a crescent wrench and a monkey wrench, and I knew the difference between a flat-head and a phillips-head screw.

So I don't know how it was that I came to be 22 years old before I learned "righty-tighty, lefty-loosey."

Now for the two people in the world who have no idea what that means (humor me, I'd like to assume I'm not THE last one in the world!) this is how some of us remember to turn the screwdriver (or wrench, or pliers) to the right to tighten a screw (or bolt or nut), and to the left to loosen it.

Since this phrase has entered my head, it is now stuck there. Fortunately, since it is so useful, I don't mind too much, even though it makes people laugh when it spills out of my mouth when I'm in the midst of some tool-heavy project.



21 comments:

Lucy said...

I only learned that expression recently too. I never thought of it in terms of tools, so thanks! that will come in handy. I learned with the outdoor spigot. I kept turning the wrong way for my hose to go on. My girlfriend said it to me as if I was one of her kids! haha

sister AE said...

Hi, Lucy. Guess we both missed a page in our early education. I'm glad we're catching up!

paisley said...

well that certainly takes the guess work out of it... and i am 46!!!!!!

gautami tripathy said...

As I was always helping my dad in his ventures, I learn it all pretty early. I can even do plumbing jobs.

Never had to call an electrician unless it is something major.

I am grateful to my dad for teaching us all this. Although my dad tried to get me into engineering to follow into his footsteps as my 3 brothers did, I was simply not inclined.

sister AE said...

Hello, Paisley. Never too late...

Hi, Gautami. That's cool. I can figure things out if I have to, and I have been known to look up advice on the internet prior to starting a project, but I must admit that I let my wife be the guide when it comes to basic repairs around the house.

Jo said...

Nice phrase. Funnily enough I still hear 'left hand, offland, I hear the lark ascend' (Hopkins) whenever I set the table (as to where the side plate goes).

sister AE said...

Hi, Jo. Interesting what our brains think we need to keep hearing from us - or need us to keep hearing.

Rhea said...

I can almost pinpoint when I learned that phrase. It was 13 years ago, I had just bought a house and hired a plumber to fix something. He taught me the phrase.

tumblewords said...

Laughing so hard. The lefty-loosie, righty-tightie has been a part of my life as long as I can remember and I use it frequently!

Stacy said...

This really made me smile. I know EXACTLY what you mean!

sister AE said...

Welcome back, Rhea, Tumblewords, and Stacy! Now you all have me smiling!

BreadBox said...

I have to say that I never learned that in England growing up -- I just learned that it was clockwise to tighten, and anticlockwise to undo it (which actually makes more sense than left or right, since to tighten the top goes left, but the bottom goes right -- which is fine if you are on top of a screw, but useless if you are trying to turn from a different perspective...
Michele sent me today,
N.

sister AE said...

Hi, BreadBox. It works as long as you turn the part you can see in the "left" or "right" direction. It does fall apart if you start thinking about what is on the other side - but then I think it does that with "clockwise" too!

And then there is the problem I faced a few years ago with an intern who is young enough that she hadn't internalized what "clockwise" meant because to her a clock is digital. Sigh.

Shephard said...

Oh... I didn't learn that til college. So you shouldn't feel too badly. :)
~S

sister AE said...

Thanks, Shephard.

khambagirl said...

Yes, it is a good lesson to learn. I was probably 24 or 25 when I heard it!

sister AE said...

Hi, khambagirl.

Maria said...

I have NEVER heard of that expression! And I am very sure that this fact would not surprise Bing one bit....

What I remember about any hand tool is that they were built for those who were right handed. I am left handed and it seemed as though everything had to be made difficult for me.

sister AE said...

Hello, Maria. I can only begin to imagine the problems with being left-handed and surrounded by right-handed tools.

Meanwhile, I use a computer mouse with my left hand because years ago I spent too much time with Tetris and did some slight injury to my right hand. Although I never needed serious fixing for it, I never went back to right-handed mousing.

Janet said...

Nothing against Mom, but I think dandelions are just so pretty :-)

sister AE said...

Janet, I agree - I have a much different attitude about what grows in front of my house. Of course my neighbors would rather that I take a little MORE interest...