Projection. The unfair kind.

It's not you.

I requested a car via Careem to go home from my in-laws. Once I got the notification that the car had arrived, I hurriedly went down the stairs and walked to it. Before I could close the door, the guy looked at me through the rear view mirror. “This car won’t go in narrow lanes,” he spat. I was confused. What was he talking about?

“Amm what?”

He repeated himself and I stared him at, blankly. I checked if he had earphones on. He didn’t. I felt dumb asking the same thing again, but I did. I didn’t understand what he was referring to.

Rather rudely, he told me that there are very narrow lanes in my area and that the car would not go there. I explained to him that there aren’t any where we are going. He announced that he’ll follow Google Maps, and I said sure.

We drove in complete silence. I looked at him. He was a young man, no older than 30, dressed in slacks and a button down. He was wearing a watch and had a neatly trimmed beard. It was about 6pm, so I am assuming that he worked somewhere and was returning from it.

The way he spoke to me got me thinking. His attitude didn’t bother me today. Actually, I had seen this before. Overworked, stressed, and unaware of how one’s body language speaks to another – toxic corporate culture often does that to the best of us. I really wanted to talk to him. Say something comforting. I had a feeling that he wasn’t from Karachi – he drove with exemplary restraint. But I didn’t. I wasn’t sure if it would be welcome. He might have even considered it inappropriate (I have tried chatting up aggravated drivers before). So I didn’t. I wanted to. Maybe I should have.

But here’s the real pearl from my 20 minutes reflection – his attitude was a reflection of his emotions, and not my actions. Often, we forget this. When someone is rude to me or treats me unfairly, I automatically wonder if I did something wrong. But it’s not always me. It’s the person projecting their issues, frustration and insecurities. It’s all them. Responsibility of an action as well as a reaction lies solely with the person who performs them.

Sending a prayer for all restless hearts today; may they find peace soon.

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