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.”]