Across the canal, in a furnace of an office at the Auxiliaire Maritime, I met my transitaire. Patrick--blocky, red- faced, suffering with the heat--greeted me with a peevish look, as though my arrival were the last straw. Nonetheless, he promptly launched into my business, and I quickly realized that his peevishness wasn't directed at me but was the demeanor of someone who'd been yelled at so often, so undeservedly, in his life that, ever fearful of rebuke, he'd become a fretful bumbler. While I sat, feigning calm, he contemplated my documents. He explored his software, emitted chuffs of frustration. When I sneaked a glance at his screen, I saw he was actually creating a table in Microsoft Word in which to enter the facts and figures of my case.