When Odds Overwhelm

Commentary by Dr. Don Newbury

As chapters of life unfold, unlikely coincidences occur that are so rare that surely providence is behind the steering wheel. No doubt whoever won that $1.3 billion lottery will spend much of his/her remaining time on earth pondering the “what if’s” of choosing such a long string of numbers in perfect order to hold the WINNING TICKET among the megamillions that weren’t. Oh, I know a few lesser winners cashed in, too, but most lottery participants held worthless pieces of cardboard, not unlike those who pick poorly at horse races.

Dr. Don Newbury

Recently, a paper cut led me to a discovery that matters little now, since most of my check-writing days are passed and not too many folks use checks now. (Technology is galloping ahead of the masses at breathtaking speed.)

Then I learn that another man in an adjacent county made the same discovery, maybe on the same day. Had such occurred a few decades ago, we could have yelled it from the rooftops that we left-handers can do some things right! Millions of “lefties” could have abandoned sinking feelings of being lousy check-removers. (I confess to being among the 10 percent of American men who are–as jokers say–“wrong-handed.”) An even smaller percentage of women are “lefties.” Alas, we have long felt swept to the side, “left in the lurch.” Have you ever heard of anyone “right in the lurch?” I didn’t think so.

Again, I digress, and it will happen again. How ere it was, because of the slight paper cut on my left hand, I held the checkbook with it, thinking it would be simpler for my right hand to remove the check. Really, how could I lose? For more than 60 years, checks taken from checkbooks have the rag-tag look of the losing pooch in a dog fight or appear to have been separated from the book by a rip saw.

The ease with which check removal with my right hand was magical. I could almost hear strumming violins, and I was cheered by thoughts that much was right with the world. It was so refreshing, in fact, I tore out another check, just to make sure.

I bragged to my wife about the new discovery. She hemmed and hawed as if it was a total fluke. Such “hemmings and hawings” are nothing new after 56 years of marriage; I changed the subject, trying to remember if there were other checks I could write.

Later in the day, I visited my bank, sharing my experience. The bank lady–mistakenly thinking she had “heard it all”–shrieked with excitement. “You are not going to believe this,” she exclaimed. “But my husband, also left-handed, had the exact same experience the other day.”

I was gleeful.

The odds of two guys sustaining paper cuts and using their “other hand” to tear out checks has to be comparable to a couple of fishing bobbers washing up on an island by the same wave after having been tossed overboard months earlier by two youngsters on a cruise ship, perhaps “ticked off” that pole fishing isn’t permitted off the pool deck.

Okay, maybe that’s a little extreme. To make such a discovery, though, sparkles–however faint the sparks may be. We “lefties” are so accustomed to “take it or leave it” status, even small victories such as this warrant parades at left-handers’ conventions.

I tried to call some printing companies to see if there are logical reasons why “righties” find check-removal to be “easy-peasy.”  My calls weren’t returned. Oh, well.

We “lefties” have learned to sit in desks designed for right-handed people, perhaps with compromised seating postures to blame for handwriting so contorted that some teachers have either recommended counseling or seen one. The list of other inconveniences we have endured is endless, but space runs short. For a brief and shining moment, though, it was exhilarating to tear checks as efficiently as “righties” do.

Dr. Newbury, a longtime university president, writes weekly and speaks frequently throughout Texas and beyond. Contact: 817-447-3872. Email: newbury@speakerdoc.com<mailto:newbury@speakerdoc.com>. Facebook: Don Newbury.

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