>>> Fringe Benefits
By staff writer J.M. Lucci
September 12, 2007

From the Book of Akeem, Chapter 1, Verses 7-8

To prepare for the arrival of Tyrone, his devout brothas and sistas organized and operated dice games throughout the PJs, and when they had raised enough money, Tyrone's followers scoured the Grove Street liquor stores for appropriate gifts of worship, assembling only the finest 40s and rolling papers for the Great Black One.

That passage comes from the Scriptures of Tyrone, a collection of books and letters that record the life and times of Tyrone King, an ex-Black Panther with his own unique ideological version of “Black Power,” who defied the White Man and touched our hearts in the fantasy land that is my mind.

Each week I’ll deliver another passage from the Scriptures, hoping to shed light on the mystery that is Tyrone King and bring a bit of twisted comedic relief to your white-washed days of youth.

Seeing as this is my first column, a bit of exposition is in order? Perhaps in parable form? Sure, why not.

I think every teenager should work in the fast food business for a least one summer, preferably two. Just like when Mama brings out that ol’ switch, working a shit job reminds the teenager the importance of a college education in today’s world.

“The majority of people who hear this tale assume I have a penchant for turning black. Hardly.”

My torment of choice was the local Subway restaurant. It wasn’t a bad gig most days, and after the first month, most everything became a robotic routine. My parents raised me the right way, to be colorblind in all affairs, but dear Lord, my resentment for white folk grew during my tenure.

The majority of the store’s clientele were white folk from the “newer, nicer” subdivisions that had been built recently. Coupled with the fact I was the only white person on the staff most days, this alchemic formula from Hell provided me with some quality inside jokes and stories I fondly recall. The one I tell the most, of course, is the genesis of the nickname, “Tyrone.”

On one of my usual night shifts, I was working the front while the “Newbie of the Week” (turnover was frickin’ ridiculous at our stores) was cleaning up the backroom. Alone and unarmed, I was tossing up the half-smashed, half-frozen lettuce to make it appear fresher, when a semi-stocky male customer entered. I lazily went through the routine of making a sandwich (more craft than art—those commercials are bullshit) until we hit the vegetables.

Details are hazy, but somehow I royally pissed this guy off. And it takes a lot to piss off someone at a Subway. I could have slept with his daughter and he’d have been less angry.

Our franchiser’s contact information is prominently displayed over our register, and after lashing out at me verbally, the man demanded I give him my name so he could report my uppity ass to my boss, perhaps even get me fired from my dead-end job. I was hesitant, but felt compliance would give me a chance to give my side of the story later on. So I gave him my first name:


The man looked at me, scoffed, and jabbed his thumb at all the posters of “Subway Jared” displayed around the store.

“Nice try, punk. I ain’t gonna’ fall for that. Now stop bullshittin’ me and give me your real name.”

“I’m sorry, sir. It’s really…Tyrone.”

I know exactly what I was thinking at the time, and why I chose that name. But I’ll never tell you. Ever. Even my best friends don’t know the reason. Like the majority of people who hear this tale, they assume I have a penchant for turning black. Hardly. But there is a flake of truth in their thinking; I wanted a name so absurd he would never believe it.

But he did.

“Good, fine. I’m gonna let your boss know of the piss-poor service you gave me.”

“Have a nice day!” I shouted as he stormed out of the store, sans sandwich.

The next morning, I went to work and was greeted by my manager.

“Uh, I got off the phone with Dee (the owner) a minute ago, and she said someone named Tyrone was giving a customer grief last night. I don’t know anyone named Tyrone. Do you?”

I told him the story, we had a good chuckle, and from that day forth whenever a customer gave me grief and I fired back and was reported, I always gave them the name of “Tyrone.”

The moral of the parable? White people are dumb, and now you know my first name. It’s scary.