Stopping Traffic

Ziad Doueiri, Time Australia, April 10, 2000.

A couple of years ago, while scouting a location for a film, I got stuck at a very busy intersection. I considered making a U-turn to avoid gridlock. I asked the traffic officer if it was O.K.

Traffic Officer: If you want.
Ziad Doueiri: I do, but is it legal?
TO: Give it a try.
ZD: Yes, but are you going to give me a ticket?
TO: The only way to find out is to try.
ZD: Well, how do I know you won’t give me a ticket?
TO: That’s right, no one knows except Allah himself.

So I made the U-turn, and the officer blew his whistle. “Pull to the side!” he yelled.

ZD: I guess Allah decides to give me a ticket.
TO: My friend, Allah does not give tickets. I do.

I produced my California driver’s license and my U.S. passport.

TO: So you live in Los Angeles? How Long?
ZD: Fifteen years.
TO: And what do you do?
ZD: I work in film.
TO: Like what kind of film?
ZD: Films, you know, like Hollywood films, nothing you would recognize.
TO: Why do you say I don’t know?
ZD: O.K., I worked on a film called Pulp Fiction. Have you heard of it?

He summoned other traffic officers, who hurry over.

TO: Check this out. The gentleman knows Travolta!

Questions and comments poured in. “So, how is Johnny? We like Travolta, he is good people? What is he like, nice? Does he like Arabs?”

ZD: I didn’t ask him if he likes Arabs.
TO: We apologize for keeping you. We’ll clear a path for you.
ZD: Thank you. Perhaps you can fix the traffic now.
TO: My friend, the traffic can take care of itself.

[“Ziad Doueiri grew up in Lebanon. He is the director of the award-winning West Beirut–a film set during the Lebanese civil war. He has also worked on Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs and From Dusk Till Dawn.”]