Serbians don’t seem to take driving regulations too seriously. Jaywalking, parking in the middle of the street/on the sidewalk, and driving the wrong way on a one-way road are pretty commonplace. One of our friends likes to back up on one-way streets if he’s missed a turn, because “it’s less illegal that way.” I had to admit that there was a certain logic to it.
Apparently, Serbian disregard for the rules of the road also applies to airplanes. As the first leg of my Belgrade-Barcelona trip touched down and started taxiing toward the gate, about 30 people throughout the plane got out of their seats and began to take luggage out of the overheard bins. The plane was turning on runway lanes, but people stood up, put on their coats, and began to queue in the aisles.
The stewardess became apoplectic, repeatedly asking people to sit down. Passengers looked at her patiently, with expressions that seemed to say, “What’s the point? What are the odds that this plane is going to crash while we’re headed toward our gate?” Finally, the pilot had to announce that the plane would come to a halt if people did not get back in their seats. Reluctantly, one by one, people sat down. The luggage bins remained open.
I turned to my Serbian traveling companion, who was laughing and shaking her head. “Have you seen this before?” I asked. “A couple of times,” she responded. I had to admit, I was envious that these people had their bags already. I wasn’t ready to deplane Serb-style, but I did unbuckle my seat belt and turn on my cell phone. It’s less illegal that way.