Now that we've covered the major secondary characters (Ted, Connie, Phil, Georgia and Annie) and started in on some of the key ancillary personalities, it seems to me that it would be simpler to start listing people as being part of a category; to that end, I present to you the people who have to watch Elly totally suck as a member of the labor force.
- We started out with her as an unpaid employee of a mom-and-pop weekly newspaper called the Valley Voice. Since it's the sort of weekly tabloid that has a coverage of only a few square miles, about five or six employees and a fairly limited budget, it seems obvious that owner-publisher Mrs Walsh really couldn't afford to pay her anything. Lynn may have made her look like she was trying to stiff Elly but, well, it's sort of obvious that her blathering about how being published was its own reward told us that it was the only one her anemic cash flow could provide. Elly's blank-witted, huffy refusal to see that was the source of a lot of strips that had her feel victimized and resolve to stand up for herself.
- The column she wrote about the goings on the the public library lead to her first real paying job as a librarian. Her coworkers there were her supervisor Susan and her supervisor's supervisor, Monique; they didn't really have any much more influence on the day-to-day storyline than the people at the Valley Voice did; they mainly served as plot devices to remind us of things. The people at the paper were there to remind us that "Women must struggle for fair treatment" while her fellow librarians were there to deliver an Aesop about how stingy the Government is when investing in the arts. Lynn really sold that last one when budget cuts forced them to let Elly go; as the person with the least seniority and most demands on tax money, she shouldn't have been surprised but she was. This occasioned the same sort of breast-beating we had to endure back in 1980 about how since she didn't have a job, she had to endure the non-identity of housewife.
- Elly's attempt to rejoin the labor force did not go all that well at first; Lynn wanted to tell a story about how human resources managers were too hung up on credentials to see the person but she unfortunately told one about someone who had no qualifications and was too lazy and dumb to get them. This might have sputtered on for years until she'd volunteered her services at Lilliputs' bookstore where we first met Moira Kinney. As before, her volunteering led to her working there full time; she felt as at home there as she did at the library save for the presence of the computers that intimidated and confused her.
- When Mrs Petrucci decided to sell the business after twenty-three years, Elly was the person most in a position to buy. Her first decisions were, to say the least, questionable; she removed the coffee counter owing to her tendency towards being stuck in the past and literal-mindedness and had hired a loutish young girl named Kortney Krelbutz. Both decisions came back to haunt her; the first decision alienated the younger demographic that Lily and Moira hoped to attract while Kortney was robbing her blind. Since Elly would rather believe a flattering lie than a truth that made her feel bad, the creep got away with it until someone with brains took charge; the moral lesson that Elly derived from that wasn't the expected "Why did I not see it?" but the more typical "Why would she lie to me?" It was about the same time that Elly's tendency towards idleness started to get the better of her; her whining about how she didn't want the business to own her was an admission that she didn't actually want to have work-work. What she wanted to do was sit on her ass and pretend to be busy so she sold the business to Moira; the interesting thing about that is that she kept hold of the mortgage on the building so she could veto changes she didn't understand and force her former employee to promote Mike's awful books.
If I had to summarize these people and their influence, I'd have to reiterate a point I made earlier; they're less people than they are a backdrop to Elly being a poser of some sort. The people at the paper were there to remind us that Elly wanted to pretend she was assertive, the people at the library were there to show us that she wanted to pretend she wanted to be involved in her community while the last set showed us that her blathering about having an identity of her own was so much bugle oil.