FDNY (part 3)
By Bill Stork, DVM
With the definition of insanity (“doing the same thing, expecting a different result”) fully in play, we were one move away from a regroup, when the second knuckle of my left middle finger found the calf's right ear. With the last scrap of strength between the three of us, Brian rocked, the cow rolled and I heaved with a primal grunt. Tail-winded by some multi-denominational assistance, begged for from the Catholic on the ground and the Lutheran on the shoulder, the unborn calf, who would come to be known as “Wrong Way”, was headed for daylight.
In short order we were shoulder to shoulder, each with a heifer’s hock, draining the fluid from her lungs.
Brian was a hired man on a family farm. He was in the parlor by 3:30 in the morning, head down and hood up against the prevailing northwest wind. In his drafty rental house, his PJs were a clean pair of insulated Carhartts in order to save money and fuel. I did my dead level best to never arrive between noon and 2:00, as in the absence of unions and government mandates the farm hand split-shift is an hour for a sandwich and siesta.
Brian and the nice lady with the soft hands in the warm parlor had deep seated philosophical differences. She was an honorable John Deere woman, and he was an International Harvester man. After years of working cattle together, they were able to find middle ground. One fine spring day at the start line of the garden tractor pulling track at Utica Fest, they became husband and wife.
Both were offered jobs on a progressive organic farm in Grant County. My next encounter with Brian would be a decade later.
If I ever develop a seizure disorder, I know why. Parked in the far corner of the Kwik Trip parking lot, windows down for cross breeze, radio on low for an alarm, and just at the 4:30 point of a seven-minute nap, I felt a shoulder clasp and a resounding “DOCTOR STORK! Long time, no see."
In recent news, hundreds of New York City police officers and firefighters have been accused of fraud, claiming mental trauma sustained on September 11, leaving them unable to work, or so much as leave their homes. Coached by physicians and lawyers, these people were granted permanent disability and paid millions of taxpayer dollars, only to be found surfing, deep sea fishing and coaching martial arts.
People like Brian Zabel work to honor their industry, earn their credentials and contribute. They are not in pursuit of praise, promotion or a Christmas bonus; it’s what they expect of themselves.
These people, on the other hand, expect less, much less. Their abhorrent actions only serve to magnify the sacrifice of the victims and bravery of the men and women of …FDNY.