The phone went off at 11:30 that morning. A retired game warden who used to be a roper before his health deteriorated had a cow down, trying to calve.
He is really a nice man who helped me do many things while I was building my clinic. He always refused pay, saying he didn't have enough to do since he had retired.
He had several horses at that time plus a fair-sized cowherd. In the intervening years, several medical problems had come up and he sold all his horses save one old friend which he said had never let him down. He sold most of his cattle, keeping a few to give him something to feed and fret over. I had seen very little of him in the last year or two.
No problem ordinarily but I was walking out the door to palpate cattle for a ranch 50 miles away. I got the job because the local vet was habitually late for appointments to the point that the rancher felt forced to find someone else who would be more punctual ... me.
I told the game warden that I couldn't get there and he should find someone else. He said his place was right on the way to Jacksboro and he already had caught the cow, his trailer had a flat and so forth.
Actually his place was 20 miles out of the way and I did owe him for all the kindness he had done for me. He probably hadn't spent $30 in the clinic for the last three or four years.
What the hell ... I said OK, figuring that if I drove like a madman and didn't have much trouble I'd only be a few minutes late.
It turned out to be a fetotomy of the most difficult sort, followed by a nice juicy prolapse which had to be replaced in a down big fat sow of a cow with plenty of resistance left in her.
I was an hour late to the palpation job. The rancher, who spends several thousand dollars with us every year, was gracious and polite but I just knew he was muttering about damned unreliable vets who have no respect for his time under his breath.
Moral debts are the hardest to pay and you get no financial reward for them. Maybe they help balance the book when you stand before Saint Peter and account for your sins.