Here, via Google Maps, is the gas station in question:
Beneath that canopy are four sets of pumps, for eight pumps total, so you have room for four cars gassing up to either side of the cashier's booth, which is in the middle of the whole operation. I guess we're all familiar with the basic concept of the gas station, right? Pumps that dispense from the right and others that dispense from the left, to be used by motorists depending on what side of the car their gas port is on? OK.
The problem here is that this gas station is surrounded by parking lot, which means that there is no set way for cars to approach the pumps. Assuming the top is "north" (actually, it's more northwest, but we'll call it north to save time), cars pulling in via the driveway just to the east there should come about and approach the station from the south, and thus queue up depending on what side of the car they fuel on. But at this station, alone of every gas station I ever use in this area with any frequency, nobody does that.
Here's a rough diagram:
1 -|- 2 3 -|- 4
5 -|- 6 7 -|- 8
The numbers indicate pumps.
Today, I pulled in to get gas. My car fuels from the passenger side, so I took stock of the situation. You'd think that I would come down that driveway, swing around to face north, and then pull into an appropriate pump -- in my diagram, one of the odd-numbered pumps -- to either side of the cashier booth, still facing north.
Alas, this was impossible. I'm sitting south of this whole mess, down below pumps 5, 6, 7, and 8. The car at pump 3 is facing north, fueling from his passenger side. OK. But the car at pump 7 is facing south -- i.e., facing me -- fueling from his driver side. So I can't really pull up to pump 7 as if lining up, because to do so will block that motorist's exit. And at pumps 1 and 5, both cars are facing south, fueling from their driver sides. At pumps 4 and 8, the cars there are actually facing each other -- pump 8 is facing north, pump 4 is facing south -- so again I can't just queue up there in the wrong direction either. Pump 6 was actually vacant, but someone at pump 2 was facing south, so even if I'd back into pump 6 to fuel from my passenger side, I'd be blocking that guy when he tried to exit.
And it's at this point that someone else comes in behind me, swings around, and queues up behind the south-facing guy at pump 1 -- which would mean that if I backed into pump 6, the guy at pump 2 wouldn't be able to move until either I or the new guy lining up in the wrong way moved forward.
Adding to all this confusion is that the driveway isn't even the only way to enter the gas station area -- it's situated in an outlying parcel of a large strip plaza, so cars are always coming not just from that driveway but from the other three or four possible directions as well. At non-busy periods, this usually isn't a problem, but on busy days it's quite the bungle of traffic as people basically take the "Look out for number one" approach to getting to these particular pumps.
It doesn't have to be this way, obviously. Here's the other gas station I tend to frequent regularly:
Here, the pumps are under that long canopy directly south of that blue-roofed building at top. (That's the convenience store, and that long building running north-south over to the right is a carwash.) Here, cars enter the operation from the south, and as can be seen, there just isn't room for them to swing about the north and come at the pumps from the opposite side. Here, everybody queues up to enter the pumps from the same side, exits from the same side, and everybody's happy. (In a particularly ingenious stroke, this station recently made their turnover at the pumps even quicker by installing this super-long hoses that will reach either side of your car no matter which pump you use, meaning that unless you're driving a Hummer with a pumped-up chassis, you can run the hose to the opposite side of your car if you have to.)
This isn't difficult stuff here, folks. The main idea behind channeling large amounts of people through a limited service space is pretty simple: clearly mark where they're supposed to go, and in what direction, and you won't have big problems. The fact that the gas station that frustrated me today (as it often does) is operated by one of Buffalo's main grocery store chains (not mine, though!) makes their half-assed operation all the more baffling. These folks know better.
OK, end of rant.