by Chris Perras
Chicken bus driver Juan Lentemente was fired this weekend amidst charges of driving too slowly and without the influence of alcohol. Initially, bus company officials had called for the suspension of Lentemente’s license, but upon learning that he never had a license and was only thirteen years old, decided they had to let him go. Lentemente issued an apology, adding “I neglected my responsibility to the Guatemalan public to drive as fast as the laws of physics allow to get my passengers to their intended destination, and just before reaching it, to stop inexplicably for an extended period of time.” We interviewed Alvaro Siemprespacio, the president of Xelaju Chicken Buses, Inc., to find out more about the firing. “The difference between arriving in Chichicastenango at 6:15 am and arriving at 6:19 am may only be the sale of one goat,” he remarked, “but when that difference is multiplied by the number of people who can fit in one of our buses, that’s a whole lot of goats.”

Siemprespacio pointed out that these were neither Lentemente’s first, nor only violations. He has also been cited for failing to stop for passengers on the roadside when the bus was, as he put it, “full.” “We at Xelaju Chicken Buses, Inc. believe that when there’s no room, it’s our job to make it” commented Siemprespacio. The company was kind enough to share with us the formula it uses for bus capacity: (C = 4N + X), with C representing capacity, N the number of benches and X the number of additional people on the roadside who want a ride – generally somewhere between 8 and a gajillion.

Siemprespacio explained that filling each bus to capacity helps create a family atmosphere. He added, “If sitting on the lap of a campesino while simultaneously helping diagnose an oozing rash on a nearby passenger and breastfeed a Quiche baby isn’t an ice-breaker, I don’t know what is.” Siemprespacio also responded to criticisms of his company’s mandatory alcohol requirement. “Tossing back a few Gallos before driving is a crucial aspect of the job,” he replied. “How can one make blind passes on twisting, steep mountain roads without an artificially-inflated set of huevos?”

We at XelaWho can’t help but agree. As the saying in Guatemala goes, ‘he who hesitates is (knocked off of a cliff by an oncoming 16-wheeler and subsequently) lost.’

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