Yesterday, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, my partner and I happened to pass a van that was offering general services such as yard clearing, shopping, “handyman” services, and more. The tagline was, “Whatever you need.”
“Neat,” I said. My partner agreed.
After all, during a pandemic, what’s more valuable than offering “whatever you need”?
This brought to mind Cupcake and Dino of “Cupcake and Dino: General Services.” These heroic, freelance brothers—a giant pink cupcake and semi-humanoid dinosaur—offer general services to whoever needs them. Their slogan? “We never turn down a general service.” Even their theme song promises that “We’ll groom your pets / We’ll mop your floor / We’ll deliver ninjas to your door.”
That’s truly heroic freelancing.
Spoiler alert—the next two paragraphs give away the plot of the pilot episode.
I’m in love with the initial episode of Cupcake and Dino: General Services, “The Manly Men’s Man Club.” In this pilot, Cupcake (known as Cup) and Dino are called to sweep out the stables at the Manly Men’s Man Club—and, as “general servicers” they leap at the chance. That said, when they knock on the door, they are shamed and turned away because they lack enough facial hair to be truly “manly.” Then, by trying to fit a macho culture that truly isn’t theirs (Dino in particular is delightfully fey) the brothers end up burying their true gender expressions. Cup, in particular, does this to such an extent that he accidentally creates a HUGE, animated mustache that threatens, in true monster style, to literally take over.
But feyness wins the day—and even impresses of one of the toughest bullies. In short, these two characters who did not stereotypically suit the venue, manage to offer their services and change that place for the better—and be true to themselves in the process.
Cupcake and Dino: General Services also feels very relevant during COVID-19 pandemic—especially to yours truly, a humble freelancer, who often offers what could properly be called “general writing services.” I’m that writer who loves writing technology articles as much as they love crafting dog blogs. Crosswords? Edited ’em. Ghostwriting and content writing? Lived it. How-to articles? I’ve written quite a few. Win/loss report writing? I provide it daily—and have done for years. Romance novels? I once made a career of them. And that’s just for starters.
It’s not that I don’t specialize. I mean, for me, it’s always writing, and many of my projects are very long-term. I was an English and Drama teacher for several years, and a writing instructor and coach beyond that. My dream is to one day more fully and professionally enter the screenwriting world.
My view? Being in different arenas during our lives can be great, when we’re able to use what we love in order to serve the world. But that isn’t what I was taught. As a kid in UK schools, a far narrower, lifelong set of goals was seen as mandatory. Plus I was taught that I should prove I was the absolute best at whatever I specialized in. I was also meant to earn truckloads of money, in order to show. . . well, a million things.
I tried that life. I was lonely. It didn’t suit my way of being.
Nowadays, like so many of us, whether I specialize or generalize, I just love to serve. Just hand me that laptop—I know it’s a privilege to have it. And perhaps one lesson of this COVID-19 pandemic, which is so frightening and tough for so many, is that being able to help is a simple and powerful thing. As Cupcake and Dino show us, you don’t need twenty-five qualifications, a massive paycheck, and sixty brilliant references to be of help. You can make a list, sweep the floor, cook eggs, grab milk for a neighbor. Chop wood, carry water, says the old saying.
We are humans. We are meant to offer help—be it general or specific—to each other and our world. To hell with whether what we do makes us seem “specialized,” “talented,” or “intelligent,” because concepts like those separate us from each other.
The view from up there is lonely.
Right now, the frontline workers and first responders are among our biggest and bravest heroes. But all acts of courage matter—especially today. Those of us who, in need of food and heat, put up a sign that says, “Homemade masks for sale,” or “Will get your shopping for pay” or “Will provide pack lunches for a few bucks” are also heroes of COVID-19. Like that giant cupcake and fey yellow dinosaur, we can take pride in being useful and ourselves.
All we need is to help each other, when we can—by providing what we can and asking for what we need, in return. As the giant, handwritten sign near us that says “Masks for Sale” demonstrates, helping others and looking after ourselves has never been so worthy.
Let’s continue, in our own ways, to chop wood and carry water.
It’s the Cupcake and Dino way.