One day in mid-December, not long after I had started working with [Chairman Elisa Scott], I heard her storming down the hall toward my office. My stomach dropped. Besides my uncertain ability to effectively address whatever issue was steaming her at the moment, my usually pristine working environment currently looked like a cross between a used bookstore and a Staples going-out-of-business sale.

How would I explain to her it wasn’t my fault? Everyone kept handing me or leaving me books and reports to read or “keep on hand” and I just kept piling them up, waiting for a free moment to organize them on bookshelves. Stacks ran five to six deep on the floor and were scattered everywhere. On top of that, new office supplies from General Services were strewn over my new desk. Half-empty boxes of stuff I had brought with me from Capitol Hill completed the disorganized look.

I quickly jumped up and started down the hall toward her, as if I too had some urgent errand to run. She stopped in front of me. “Lauren, do you have a minute? I have something to discuss with you.”

“Of course, Chairman Scott. Is something wrong?” I started walking back toward her office and luckily she followed me.

“Yes there is, but it’s nothing you’ve done. Do you know HB 118?”

“That’s Delegate Keith’s bill to increase funding for high school science labs, isn’t it?”

“Right. Last night we were both at a party and that arrogant shit never managed to work his way over to me to say hello. Can you imagine?”

I couldn’t tell whether she was serious or just playing so I just nodded.

“I want you to draft an amendment that lowers the proposed funding level to—what do you think—ten percent of what he’s asking?”

“Okay.” Who am I to judge?

“Float that around to a couple of legislators and ask for their opinion. Specifically, you need to show it to Delegate Smythe. I think they’re having an affair so it’s sure to get back to him.” The glint in her eye told me there was more. “Then you are just going to have to hold off scheduling that bill for a hearing for a while. Avoid his calls, lie to his face, I don’t care. Just do whatever it takes to delay the hearing. We’ll hear it during the last hours before cross-over. You know about cross-over?”

“Yes, it’s the day during the session when all the bills that, practically speaking, have any shot of getting through both chambers and to the Governor’s desk have to be passed.”

“Exactly. Day 76 to be exact. I really do support the concept of his bill and I want to pass some form of it, but for now I’m betting that between the two strategies Delegate Keith will learn the lesson of respecting his chairman.” She smiled broadly as she escorted me out of her office.

“Yes, Ma’am. No problem.” And that was how we played nice.