Something in Commons Building 7 was on fire just before midnight Wednesday — a first-floor door was flung open and smoke was pouring out. Students, evacuated and pushed away from the building, watched the heroes rushing in: firefighters carrying axes, police officers with caution tape. And one pizza delivery guy.
He appeared out of nowhere, wandering around the building from the opposite side. He was suddenly just there, in his blue shirt and baseball cap, among the first-responders. And he had pies.
It took a few seconds for the students to realize what they were looking at. But when they saw, they clapped, and loudly. But then, just as quickly as he’d appeared, the Domino’s guy was gone.
His name is Joe Interlandi, and he’s been around. Middle-aged with a 5-o’clock shadow, he started working at the Route 1 pizza joint in February, but before that he said he spent three and a half years doing water damage cleanup — he showed up when the firefighters left, scraping up the old plaster and charred furniture. He said he didn’t really notice all the commotion at first; he was just making a delivery to Commons 5, two buildings away.
“I wasn’t in anybody’s way — they were doing their thing,” he said. “I explained to him where I was headed, and he thought about it and said ‘you know what? Go on up that way.'”
Junior kinesiology major Alexis DiLegge saw him standing in front of the door, which, by the time Interlandi arrived, was relatively clear of smoke.
“He was trying to get that tip!” Dilegge said. “I was trying to get that pizza.”
But once he realized what was going on, wasn’t he concerned by the lingering smoke? The sirens?
“No,” he said, laughing. “I’ve been in worse danger.”
And he wasn’t just saying that to show off — he wouldn’t. He barely wanted to talk at all, didn’t believe anyone had noticed him just delivering a few pizzas. But back in his 20s, he said, he was far from College Park, out where the real winds blow and nobody is asking if you want Cinnasticks or a 2-liter.
He did seismology work in the Rocky Mountains, he said, getting helicoptered in and then blowing things up to find pockets of oil and natural gas. It wasn’t as cool as all that though — “I wasn’t hitting the button,” he said.
But now, years later in the middle of the night, he was bashfully talking about his experiences in a Domino’s Pizza while students quietly shuffled back into the apartment building, where there were beer cans in the stairways, water on the floor and the smell of smoke in the air. It appears a fire started in a first-floor trash room.
Senior English major Antonio Gilyard was weaving his way past a door covered in caution tape to get back into the building. He’d left and gone to his cousin’s place when the alarm went off. He missed Joe’s caper.
“I wish I had seen him; I would have clapped too,” Gilyard said. “He’s the superman pizza delivery guy.”
Interlandi seemed embarrassed by a reporter coming to look for him — but after telling his story, he looked to be almost satisfied with the evening. Not to mention, those people got their pizza.
“I’ve lived,” he said, “a long and exciting life.”
Editor’s note: For tweets from the scene and more pictures, check out Rich’s Twitter account, @rabdill.