TAOS, N.M. – Larry Whitten marched into thisnorthern New Mexico town in late July on a mission: resurrect a failing hotel.
tough-talking former Marine immediately laid down some new rules. Among
them, he forbade the Hispanic workers at the run-down, Southwestern
adobe-style hotel from speaking Spanish in his presence (he thought
they’d be talking about him), and ordered some to Anglicize their names.
No more Martin (Mahr-TEEN). It was plain-old Martin. No more Marcos. Now it would be Mark.
management style had worked for him as he’s turned around other
distressed hotels he bought in recent years across the country.
The 63-year-old Texan, however, wasn’t prepared for what followed.
Yes. It never occurred to Captain Asshole here that people would take offense at his attempts to improve them.
Also? Afraid they’d be talking about him? Narcissist, please. If you’re that concerned about it, learn Spanish. And Polish. And Arabic. You’ll discover that all those filthy immigrants you’re so sure are all up in your business are just talking about their own boring old lives, and then you’ll be able to relax and go back to building an entire house out of tinfoil to keep the alien spies at bay.
“I came into this landmine ofAnglos versus Spanish versus Mexicans versus Indians versus everybody up here. I’m just doing what I’ve always done,” he says.
The Virginia-born Whitten had spent 40 years in the hotel business, turning around more than 20 hotels in Texas, Oklahoma, Florida andSouth Carolina, before moving with his wife to Taos from . He had visited Taos before, and liked its beauty. When Whitten saw that the Paragon Inn was up for sale, he jumped at it.
“Being a jackass has worked for me so many times! How dare this place not be a backwards-ass haven for dickheads where I can get away with doing whatever I want just like before?” I seriously do not understand the “nobody ever objected before” defense. Just because someone else wasn’t offended doesn’t mean what you’re doing is inoffensive.
After he arrived, Whitten met with the employees. He says he immediately noticed that they were hostile to hismanagement style and worried they might start talking about him in Spanish.
of that, I asked the people in my presence to speak only English
because I do not understand Spanish,” Whitten says. “I’ve been working
24 years inTexas and we have a lot of there. I’ve never had to ask anyone to speak only English in front of me because I’ve never had a reason to.”
employees were fired, Whitten says, because they were hostile and
insubordinate. He says they called him “a white (N-word).”
You’ve worked in the hotel business in Texas for 24 years and you never picked up enough Spanish to figure out if your employees are calling you a creep? Wow. Either you have a bigger tin ear for languages than I do, which is hard, or you’re just a lazy, entitled prat who pushes around people who work for you just because you can.
The entire tone of this story is “poor, poor confused racist dude.” Which, ain’t nobody with enough cash to buy a hotel on a whim gets a pass from me for beating down the people who work for a fraction of that amount every year just because he doesn’t like how they pronounce their names.
Then Whitten told some employees he was changing their Spanish first
names. Whitten says it’s a routine practice at his hotels to change
first names of employees who work the front desk phones or deal
directly with guests if their names are difficult to understand or
“It has nothing to do with racism.
I’m not doing it for any reason other than for the satisfaction of my
guests, because people calling from all over America don’t know theSpanish accents or the Spanish culture or Spanish anything,” Whitten says.
Um. They’re calling a hotel infreaking New Mexico. I think they’ll get over it. Plus, we have television and the Internet now. Even if you live in the north woods of Bufu, Wisconsin, you still learn that people in other places talk kinda funny. Jesus tits.
Taos Mayor Darren Cordova says Whitten wasn’t doing anything illegal.
But he says Whitten failed to better familiarize himself with the town
and its culture before deciding to buy the hotel for $2 million. “Taos
is so unique that you would not do anything in Taos that you would do
elsewhere,” he says.
HEY GUESS WHAT THIS ISN’T OKAY ANYWHERE.
Via Trademark Dave at Eschaton.