CUP OF JOE: Orientation Pizza Vouchers Disappoint

Joe Adams, Opinion Columnist

Is there anything better than free food? Okay, maybe the nine seasons of Seinfeld being on Netflix. But that’s for another day. This week, I want to talk about something that happened on Friday night. It was unexpected, thought-provoking and, dare I say, shocking.

During Villanova Orientation week, my roommate, junior Ashton Rodriguez, was in a hungry mood. While he was out on a nightly stroll around campus, he was enthralled by the sounds of the annual Orientation carnival. 

“I was filming the Orientation video with Villanova Television,” Rodriguez said. “The carnival had sponsors, and Papa John’s was the biggest tent and caught my eye right away. They were giving out free pizza, and free coupons for it as well.” 

Rodriguez took not just one, but two free pizza vouchers, and decided to save them for a later date. When I moved in and saw them hanging on the fridge, I was very excited. Who wouldn’t get thrilled over the delicacy that is Papa John’s? As everyone knows, John makes a dang good pizza pie.

Night after night, I begged my roommates to redeem the free pizza vouchers. However, night after night, I was outvoted, and my idea for this delicious treat was shot down. But this past Friday night, everything changed. 

On my knees, praying and asking to redeem these coupons, I hoped that this would be the night. After a bit of convincing, Rodriguez agreed to order two free pizzas from Papa John’s. What a thrill it was to finally have what we had all been longing for.

Around 11 o’clock at night, Rodriguez opened his laptop and got to work. With me watching closely over his shoulder to make sure he made the perfect order, all was going well. That was, until he entered the 12-digit promo code. And that was when everything changed.

We did not read the mini card that held the promo code close enough. This coupon was not just for any pizza. We were limited to a single medium one topping pizza. Dreams crushed, and on the edge of tears, I wondered if it was even worth it to complete this pizza quest after weeks of looking forward to the large pizza with toppings that I had been dreaming about.

Alas, we decided to go through with the pizza order. But yet again, we had been bamboozled. This declaration of “free” pizza had been a bold-faced lie all along. When it was time to check out, the Papa John’s website asked us for our credit card information. Credit card? Why would the site be asking for this, given that this was free pizza?

We discovered that not even Papa John’s pizza was tax-deductible in the United States. It was a modern tragedy, and I was at a loss for words. Rodriguez was not deterred. He had gone so far. He decided to suck it up and order the pizza, totaling $5.00 per pizza after the tip. 

After an hour-long wait, we finally got a call from an older man waiting outside to give us our hard-earned pizza. In the words of my roommate Brendan Tierney, “Slower than on-campus food, but certainly worth the wait.”

Rodriguez arrived back at our apartment and opened the fresh pies. He and I were to split the cheese pizza, while Tierney and our other roommate, Tom Dessoye, were to split the pepperoni. After exposing the pies to the stale apartment air, I turned around for a glass of water and turned back to see Dessoye grabbing a slice of cheese. “Disgraceful,” I thought to myself.

But this was nothing compared to the disappointment of the free pizza. I bit into a stale, flavorless piece of pizza that left me wishing I had air fried some chicken tenders hours ago. The residents of Rudolph 211 were left saddened and hungry. 

Dessoye put it best: “The Papa John’s tasted worse than the reputation of its namesake.”  

While I am glad Villanova sponsors are handing out free food vouchers, I wish the quality of the food was more satisfying. There is one thing that’s for sure: Papa John’s will never be hitting my mouth again.