Oct 24, 2008

A Vast Right Wrist Conspiracy

Ever since I learned to tell time and wear a watch, I’ve done so on my right wrist. That may not seem that strange until you understand that I’m right-handed. The norm for a right-handed person, in civilized society, is to wear their watch on their left wrist, this way it is out of the way of writing and other right-handed activities.

The strange placement of my watch did bring about chuckles and ridicule from friends, colleagues, and acquaintances, and my response has always been something like, “That’s where I learned to wear it, and it’s too late to change now.” After all, it had been close to 30 years since I learned to tell time and wear a watch.

I knew it was weird, but there are a lot weirder things about me that are open to ridicule (see this entire web site for a few), so it wasn’t high on my list of things about myself to improve.

In early September, after enduring years of taunting and harassment about this odd behavior of mine, I decided to change. On a Monday, I put my watch on my left wrist and went about my day.

It was one of the strangest experiences of my life.

First Day

First, there was now a new weight on my left wrist that had never been there before. It just felt so awkward and I was conscious of it all day. Second, throughout the day, I kept looking down at my right wrist when I wanted to know the time. This made me look stupid. Third, when I did look at my left wrist to see the time, the movement of bringing my arm up to view the watch face was a completely new movement for me, and I’m sure it looked very exaggerated and strange to normal people.

I made it through the first day, but I wasn’t sure I was going to stick with it. When I got home that day, I couldn’t wait to get the watch off. When I did, my wrist felt much better.

Second Day

The second day was similar to the first, with one major difference. On the first day, I wore a watch with a bracelet; on the second day, I wore a watch with a leather strap. Getting the watch on my wrist with the strap secured took at least five minutes. Unlike a bracelet which is already connected and just needs to be closed, a strap with a buckle needs to be positioned on the wrist so you can manipulate it with your other hand, you have to get one side of the strap through the buckle to the correct tightness, and you have to engage the pin properly. Something that was second nature on my right wrist was a completely foreign concept on my left. Twice I had to put it on my right wrist to see how I did it properly so I could mimic it on my left. I wondered if it was really worth it?

Throughout the day it was awkward as well. While lighter than a bracelet watch, a leather strap has a completely different feel on your wrist especially when it’s a new wrist that is slightly different from the wrist the leather had adjusted to. Several times during the day, I had to take the watch off for a few minutes because it was irritating. Again, as soon as I got home I had to take the watch off almost immediately.

Just like the first day, looking at the watch on my left hand was awkward and less than efficient. Many times I caught myself looking at my right wrist and rolling my eyes as I realized my watch was on my other hand.

Third Day

Went back to a bracelet watch and the results were similar to the first two days. One change though, I decided to leave my watch on when I got home to try and force myself to adjust to it.

No one in the office had mentioned my new watch location, and I would have thought one or two people would have noticed. When I pointed it out to them, they reacted like I had finally decided to go to AA and get my life in order.


It’s been over six weeks and I’m still wearing my watch on my left wrist. Putting on a strap with a buckle is still challenging, but I’m getting better at it. I only look at my right wrist about once a day, and oddly, it seems to be when I’m at the ATM machine getting cash. Apparently, in the last 20-some-odd years, I’ve developed a habit where I enter my PIN and hit the cash button, then look at the time on my right wrist while waiting for the cash to come out. This is very strange as I continue to do it even though I’m consciously thinking that there is no reason to look at my right wrist anymore. Must be an OCD thing.

The oddest thing about the wrist switch occurs in my bathroom. My toilet is almost right up against the wall in my bathroom. If I’m wearing a watch on my left wrist when I sit down on it, my arm becomes almost trapped between the toilet and the wall. This is most awkward and has led me to take off my watch before going to the bathroom if I am actually wearing it at home.

This is still a new experience for me and one that I’m still getting used to. I’ve spent close to 30 years wearing watches on my right wrist and close to 60 days wearing them on my left, so I expect it to take some time before I really get used to it. I hope it doesn’t take another 30 years.

Now, I need to find the next little quirk to improve. I hear that normal people put their pants on one leg at a time. Seems odd to me, but maybe I should try tackling that one next?