It was approaching 4 p.m. on a Friday, which is rarely time to have an emergency at work.
Scott Surovell, nonetheless, had an emergency at work. Worse nonetheless, he had till 4:30 p.m. to resolve it, however the resolution, if discovered, was at 5.
Surovell is a Fairfax County lawyer and — related to our functions at this time — a Democratic state senator. An out-of-state legislation agency had employed him to file a private harm lawsuit, not totally realizing that he was at one finish of the state, that the lawsuit needed to be filed on the different finish and that Virginia, in contrast to some states, doesn’t permit complaints to be filed on-line. Paperwork must be hand delivered to the Pittsylvania County Courthouse in Chatham.
It was a rushed case from the beginning: Surovell had solely two days to file a lawsuit to beat the operating statute of limitations. That did not look like an issue, although. “I assumed I might FedEx it to Pittsylvania Circuit Courtroom for 9 a.m. supply on Friday morning and we might simply discover a native lawyer later,” Surovell mentioned.
The issue was that it was now 3:45 p.m. that Friday and the package deal had not but arrived. Worse, the Pittsylvania Clerk’s Workplace advised Surovell employees that “generally the FedEx man would not come till after hours.” Closing time was 4:30 p.m., solely 45 minutes away.
Now was a disaster — and that is the place Surovell’s standing as a state legislator begins to return into play.
As a state senator, his first intuition was to name the state senator who represents Pittsylvania County – Invoice Stanley, a close-by Republican in Franklin County. Stanley, nonetheless, had already left for the day. Stanley is a component proprietor of a automotive racing crew and he was off for a race.
It was then that Surovell considered the Adams. Adams is a Republican member of the Home of Delegates — and of Chatham. Surovell served one time period with Adams within the Home earlier than transferring to the state Senate and says “we stayed pleasant.” (Alert: literary foreshadowing.) It was now 3:50 p.m. Surovell referred to as Adams’ legislative workplace. That is the place he acquired fortunate. Adams was there – and answered the telephone.
If that does not sound uncommon to you, keep in mind that in Virginia we’ve got part-time legislators. You may’t count on to name a legislator’s workplace and get the precise legislator. Generally you do not even get assist. If that is what you need, then be ready to pay for a full-time legislature. However I digress. The purpose is, it was sheer luck that Adams was in his legislative workplace late on a Friday afternoon. His day job is Senior Assistant Commonwealth Solicitor – a prosecutor. This specific Friday, nonetheless, was October 28, the Friday earlier than Halloween and the day Chatham noticed the vacation. The youngsters had been invited downtown for “Treats on Essential Road,” so Adams was in his legislative workplace along with his son — and was a conscientious sufficient legislator to reply the telephone relatively than let it go to voicemail.
We have all had the expertise of being caught in automated telephone techniques, so we will all think about the joys Surovell felt when he heard an precise human voice choose up on the opposite finish of the road – and he acknowledged.
“I requested him if I might e mail the criticism to him so he might file it and pay me the submitting charge,” Surovell mentioned.
Adams advised her to e mail the paperwork to her outdated legislation agency, which was throughout the road. Adams’ former paralegal Nicole Sinclair was there along with her youngster – she was already in costume however took off her elephant ears to hurry paperwork to the courthouse earlier than it closed. “The case has been filed,” Surovell advised me over e mail. “Disaster averted. I do not know what I’d have finished if he [Adams] hadn’t picked up.
Fairfax’s attorney-law was grateful; the Pittsylvania lawyer-legislator was extra humble. “It wasn’t an enormous deal,” Adams mentioned.
Right here, nonetheless, is why it is such an enormous deal.
You may discover that Surovell is a Democrat, and the 2 lawmakers he contacted — Stanley and Adams — are Republicans.
Sure, there’s some skilled courtesy concerned right here – legal professionals serving to different legal professionals. However we dwell in politically polarized instances, with some severe students warning that our nation is so divided that we appear to be 1850s America – and everyone knows what occurred within the 1860s. That sounds downright scary, and I want extra folks would heed these warnings. The specter of political violence appears very actual, generally greater than “appears”. (See my earlier columns on the topic, from last month and July.) That is why I feel it is essential for folks to see examples of politicians from reverse events working collectively — and being not solely civil however pleasant with one another.
This sort of factor occurs extra typically in politics than you may assume; it would not entice a lot consideration. A couple of years in the past, once I was with the Roanoke Occasions, I attended a Senate subcommittee assembly in Blacksburg – I noticed a Republican (Stanley) and a Democrat (the state senator Fairfax County’s Dave Marsden) come collectively from a earlier assembly, fortunately sharing tales. Final 12 months, I used to be at a packed Senate Finance Committee assembly in Roanoke and noticed Del. Joe McNamara, R-Roanoke County, to order a seat for Del. Sam Rasoul, D-Roanoke. I written earlier this year about how Rasoul made a cope with McNamara for Roanoke honor roll college students to get free ice cream at one in every of McNamara’s ice cream parlors. Adams serving to Surovell out of a bind is simply one other instance of politicians being respectable folks with one another, even when opposed.
As a society, we naturally deal with the place politicians disagree – and I am positive our two essential characters right here disagree on many factors. Because of this Adams and Surovell have totally different letters after their names. However that does not imply they cannot work collectively. “I loved Scott’s firm,” Adams advised me. “He is a wise, humorous man.” Surovell says equally good issues about Adams. He tweeted his due to Adams — a positive signal of respect in these social media days — and even tagged Home Speaker Todd Gilbert. Whereas this particular incident could also be uncommon in its colourful element – the deadline drawing ever nearer, the deceivers taking up Chatham city centre, the elephant-eared paralegal – it is really fairly consultant of the way in which I’ve seen politicians from totally different events deal with one another over time.
Sure, there are at all times outliers – R-Campbell County Rep. Bob Good is probably probably the most notable amongst us. Good is sort of proud to not work with Democrats. “It is not a celebration to work with,” he mentioned. at a meeting in Amherst County this summer. “It’s an evil that have to be overcome. It’s an evil which hates the nation, which hates the Founders, which hates the Structure. He is attempting to rework and destroy America and nothing they do is smart until they hate the nation. Could I recommend that this type of rhetoric is not significantly useful? If Good desires to disagree with Democratic insurance policies, then by all means disagree. As Individuals, we’ve got been at odds with one another from the beginning; our skill to disagree is a part of what units our system other than some others on this planet. However after we begin calling a camp or one other “evil” – “land-hating evil” – there is just one place that can lead and that may be a darkish and bloody place. I do know politicians typically love hyperbole – it comes with the territory – however they need to beware that some poor, deluded souls may take their rhetoric far too actually.
We have now simply gone by means of a contentious nationwide marketing campaign and now we’re able to undergo one other over the subsequent two years. These are, within the phrases of Thomas Paine, “the instances that attempt the souls of males”. We can have greater than sufficient temptations to deal with the opposite facet – nonetheless you outline the opposite facet – with contempt and disgust and presumably worse. We have now two events which have very totally different visions of how American historical past ought to unfold within the years to return, however we should not lose sight of the truth that after the votes are counted, we’re all nonetheless Individuals, we we’re all nonetheless right here as neighbors, and all of us should discover a technique to dwell with one another. Most politicians I do know perceive this; typically I ponder if their supporters do it – they’re those who fear me.
The case of the late supply of parcels in Chatham is a telling little instance of how we must always deal with one another.
Oh, should you’re curious, Surovell’s package deal lastly arrived on the Pittsylvania County Courthouse — at 3:08 p.m. the next Monday.
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