Monday, December 7, 2009


I dropped off my 4Runner this afternoon for an oil change and decided to use the time at an AT&T store to shop for a new phone.

I was met at the door by the store manager; after a brief wait he led me to a sales consultant, who shook my hand and introduced himself as "Osama." His name tag confirmed that I hadn't misheard him.

He was a strikingly handsome young man, with large soft eyes, a beautiful mouth, dark hair (cut very short), and a fashionably trimmed beard. His face was oval; his skin fair and unblemished; his demeanor gentle and bemused. I felt after he introduced himself that he was waiting for me to gather myself. For a moment I couldn't look at him.

He invited me to browse the phones and told me he was available if I had any questions.

I thought to myself, Questions.

And I wondered most of all at my unwillingness to meet his gaze. That unwillingness passed quickly, but I was surprised by it.

Eventually he sought me out. Soon it became apparent that he was guiding me toward the purchase of an iPhone. He was another young American doing his job.

He might have been right that an iPhone best suits my needs, but I'd already decided—I still don't understand this—that I wasn't going to buy anything from him. I felt disoriented and therefore belligerent. Perhaps it was his beauty. Or his name. Or the conjunction of the two.

Maybe I'll return on Wednesday and allow him to sell me an iPhone. More likely I won't. But not because of him.

Regardless, I wonder: Is there another place in this country where he could continue to use that name? And could he continue to use it at all, even here, if he weren't handsome?

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