Last weekend I was due to go skiing with some people called the Boston Ski and Sports Club who organize ski trips up to the ski resorts in Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. This was the first weekend of the season and I was really looking forward to it. I wanted to make sure I was in good time so, after talking to the cab company, I ordered a cab for 4 o'clock which, the despatcher assured me, would get me to the bus pick-up point at a subway station in Newton, a suburb about 7 or 8 miles away from Cambridge for 5 o'clock. The bus was due to start loading at 5 o'clock and leave at 5.30. The cab came on time but the cab driver had no map and didn't know much English -- at first he couldn't find the suburb and then he couldn't find the underground station! At 5.30 he was still driving around looking for it. So I missed my ski weekend and wasted $300 -- $360, if you include what I paid the cab driver. Looking back, I have been thinking about the way I acted during this episode -- what it says about my character -- and wonder how you would have reacted. When we set off and it became clear that the cabbie was not very focused and responsive, I started to get worried. I tried to make conversation but he wasn't interested and called up someone on his cell phone whom he talked to in what I think was Haitian Creole. As we went on I realized that he was asking this person for directions, but he continued to drive very indecisively. As the time wore on and we crawled along, I didn't know where we were but had bad feelings and was getting very up-tight. I had told him that we had to be there by 5 o'clock. At about quarter to I asked him flat out whether he knew how far we had to go but he just said "not far". After that, things got a bit crazy. We were on a dark road that didn't seem to be taking us to anything like an underground station and so I hopped out at an intersection and asked the guy in the big SUV behind us if he knew where the Riverside MBTA station was. He said "yes" and gave directions that would have taken us back more or less where we had come for a couple of miles. We tried that, but it wasn't clear where we had to turn so I got out again and ran into a Dunkin Donuts where one of the customers gave us directions. Again, we didn't seem to be able to follow them successfully. By this time I was fairly frantic and very angry. The driver was still on his cell but he didn't seem to be getting anything helpful. Finally, we gave up. He turned off his meter on the cab. I paid him $60 (the cab by then was about $53) and asked him if he was going back to Cambridge. He was, and got us back there in about half an hour. He was apologetic and I was no longer angry or up-tight. On the contrary, I was very understanding and somewhat amused. I told him: "Look, it doesn't matter. It's not a big deal. It was only a trip away." When I got out of the cab I took its number, thinking that perhaps I would call the office of the cab company. But then when I got upstairs I immediately decided not to. As I understand it, there is a reason why cab drivers here in Boston are of such poor quality. It isn't just that they don't have to pass any tests to get a cab driver's licence: the cabs themselves have licences ("medals") that restrict their numbers and make it very difficult for a cab driver to make a decent amount of money. They have to work extremely long hours just to pay for the cost of the cab. If I had made a fuss and it had had consequences then I would perhaps have deprived a poor Haitian immigrant of his only means of livelihood. When we were looking for the station and it was becoming apparent that it was not going well, I think that I was about as uptight and uncool as it is possible to be. Something about being in a situation which is going wrong because someone else is failing to do what they should is obviously very hard for me to deal with (I would have been FINE if I had had a map or had a number to call the tour people to get directions). On the other hand, as soon as the worst had happened, I calmed down and started to be kind and considerate towards the cab driver. A couple of times during the weekend I had pangs of regret at not being out on the slopes (at least I got to watch the Pats -- a mixed blessing you might think!) but I think that I can honestly say that I haven't let it upset me. My conclusion is that I am certainly a classic control freak. Although I'm actually happy to leave things to other people if I trust their competence/benevolence, I seem to have the greatest difficulty in dealing with the situation when it turns out that they are not. In fact, I'm not sure what it would be to deal with such situations well (which is why I ask you). On the other hand, there was a drastic change as soon as the bad thing that I had been trying to avoid had happened and there was no getting out of it. Then I think I can say that I immediately became about as kind, cheerful and resilient as one could hope to be. I have had other, much worse, things happen recently, and I think that, to the extent that they only affected me, I have been able to deal with them well. How would you have reacted? I'm interested to find out how typical I am.