Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Good Stuff

So Sony sent me an e-mail to let me know that, for a limited time, I can order Papa John's pizza through my PlayStation 3 (via a simple button in the PS3 browser that links to the Papa John's website). Exciting news?

Kind of makes me want to retch, actually. It does, however, remind me of an episode from a time in my life when I worked as a game tester on PlayStation software at Sony Computer Entertainment America.

One day, as a way of thanking us for our hard work and long hours, the company treated all of the lowly QA staff to a pizza lunch. These gestures were not common, so it was an exciting day in any case, but one tester further remarked that it was very impressive how they didn't settle for, say, five-dollar mediums from Domino's. This was "the good stuff"--large, multi-topping orders from, yep, Papa John's! "That stuff ain't cheap!"

But, seriously, my heart ached for that poor sap, who thought that Papa John's was the pinnacle of pizza pies. Perhaps I had been blessed with a more lavish life than I realized, because it had been some years since Papa John's had become the standard (only due to geographical convenience) for pizza night in my household, and some years again since we had all had enough of that subpar dough, the processed cheese, and those meager toppings.

Although I too came from SoCal, even I knew that Papa John's (as well as Pizza Hut and Domino's) was no more a real pizza than Taco Bell was authentic Mexican cuisine. Another part of me envied him, however, because, living in California, it did me little good to know that a better pizza existed. The knowledge only tormented me, allowing me to observe brilliance without being able to grasp it.

I would have had him carry on living in blissful ignorance, but, alas, with a Chicago native and a few New Yorkers in the building, pizza day inevitably turned ugly. Soon enough, we were all made to believe that none of us had ever tasted a real pizza. When the Chicago snob finally declared that he only ate deep-dish pizza shipped across the country from his beloved Lou Malnati's, that the frozen stuff still could not compare to the real thing, there was nothing more that anyone else could say. To pay forty dollars a pie for the merest semblance of home, he clearly took his melted cheese on dough more seriously than the rest of us. And so we sat in silence, chewing on that Papa John's that tasted ever more like sand in our mouths.

Yes, I ate my fill that day. I had earned that free food after all.

1 comment:

Czardoz said...

Hahaha, brilliant. This is the kind of story that makes me laugh and cry at the same time.

I've never eaten at Lou Malnati's, but I have no doubt that it inhabits an Everest-like pinnacle shared with only a select few peers.

That said, I would not have been so curmudgeonly as to make everyone feel like they were happy garbage-eaters, when free food should always be an occasion for genuine good feelings.

Maybe the Sony bigwigs should have offered you guys some San Diego specialties, like . . . um . . . hmm. Rubio's? Roberto's? Filiberto's???