Gary Willis has been fixing cars all his life. But you could never tell by looking at his hands.
He holds them out with pride. His mitts -- both sides -- are smooth and clean. They show almost none of the battle scars most technicians and body-repair professionals sustain working underneath damaged and broken vehicles year after year.
For many auto-repair professionals, saving their hands from injury and keeping them presentable for social occasions is a sensitive and rarely talked about topic. But, anecdotally at least, there's been a growing trend among technicians to protect their hands from caustic chemicals, sharp objects and other hazards on the job that can cause cuts, gashes, scrapes, scars and other problems.
"I can't go home all cut up," says Willis, who had been a body repair trainer at the former Prestige Collision Center in Burlington, N.C. "You have to take care of your hands just like you take care of the rest of your body. A lot of people think that just because they are in the automotive repair field, they can forget about taking care of their bodies. Well, guess what: If my body doesn't hold up, I'm not going to be in the field."