Gas Station Etiquette In Serbia

One thing I recently learned is that, in Serbia, there is only one direction in which to get your gas at a gas station. Sure, you can go into any entrance or exit, but when you officially line up to get your gas, all vehicles must be facing the same direction at all times even if there are openings easily reachable by pulling your car around.  This strikes me as very odd because not only do I often see flagrant disregard for traffic rules  – driving the wrong way down a one way street, parking on a main street outside a mall,  essentially stopping traffic in that lane, creating your own lane, driving at insanely high speeds (more often) or at a snail’s pace (less often) –  but because of sheer efficiency.  Take this picture, for example…

Gas station
Major sin in Serbia

Note several vehicles facing in opposite directions. This would NEVER happen in Serbia. Even if there were empty spaces just ready to be taken, if you are not in the same direction as the other vehicles, you must not navigate into that space.  Of course, this is not written anywhere. You must discover this for yourself when locals excitedly insist this in your face, in Serbian, with hand gestures.  In the queue but your gas tank is on the opposite side of the car, away from the pump? Too bad. You gotta figure that out. Bring the line around your car or drive out and get in another queue. Slow person in front of you taking too long and there’s a empty stall in front of that car in your queue? Too bad. You can’t leap frog that car.  You need to wait until they finish up before proceeding to that stall or their stall. If they use the restroom, order a cappuccino, or maybe the owner of the car in front of you (and behind the empty stall) knows the cashier and they get into a conversation about the weather or politics. Gear up for a long wait. Better yet, get some cips and voda (chips and water) because you’re going to be there for a while.

Serbia, where unwritten rules apply at gas stations and written traffic laws are merely suggestions.

Author: S.L.Luck

Writer of fiction, non-fiction, and stories in between.

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