The case of the painful hands

It was part of his employment conditions. He could have as much free fizzy drinks as he wanted for himself and his family.  At  the  factory  where  he  worked, massive  quantities  of  this popular  brew  left  the  premises  in  huge delivery trucks. Destinations? As many outlets as possible.

The workers at this plant were encouraged to be the greatest fans and consumers of their product. Hence, the perk they were given at employment date was to take home as much to drink as you want for yourself and your family. He held his hands a distance from each other, fingers spread apart. In his working life as an artisan he had never had  a  problem  with  the  skin  on  his  hands.  “Look  at  them.  The  cracks  open  up  like  ravines,  sometimes  oozing  a sticky substance. Otherwise the skin just dries up and cracks or flakes. I have tried all sorts of creams and pills. It seems  to help  for  a while. Somehow  it is  just  getting worse and worse.  I  can’t  close  my  hands;  the cracks  on my fingers are too painful. I have been off work for a few weeks as  I cannot work on the machines with my tools. Do you think you can help me?” He was obviously embarrassed by the appearance of his raw, oozing, cracked fingers and  palms.  He  was  an  uncomplicated  man,  of  an  average  background.  Does  his  job,  pays  the  bond,  raises  his children, takes his wife to movies once in a while. Not the questioning type at all.

“How long have you been working at this cold-drink factory?”

“I have had about 10 years service which was interrupted when I tried to open my own business for about 2 years. Since I have been back, it is about 6 years that I work there.”

“When did your hands start to give you trouble?”

“About 2 years ago I started with little patches on my palms. It would come and go. Now it is there permanently.” He answered my questions easily.

“Have you always been a keen drinker of your product?”

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