Out in the Open

The amplified awkwardness of being laid off in a small town

Molly Segal got laid off and found it hard to put it behind her because she kept running into former colleagues around town.
Molly Segal couldn't avoid her former colleagues after being let go from her job in Banff, Alberta. (Molly Segal )

Molly Segal heard rumours that layoffs were coming to her workplace in Banff, Alberta.

But she was still shocked when she suddenly found herself with a layoff slip in her hand, being escorted out of the building one Tuesday morning and into a cab. 
Molly Segal couldn't float past the current of people she knew from work after being forced out of her job. (Provided by Molly Segal)

"I'd lost my job because of restructuring," Segal said. "But the atmosphere made me feel more like I'd done something illicit. I wasn't allowed to clear the stuff out of my old office until the weekend. I wasn't allowed to get a ride home with a colleauge."

All Segal wanted was to get into that cab and leave the job behind her.

In a large city, "I would have driven off into anonymity, burrowed into my own world, and moved on," Segal said.

But in her small community, that wasn't possible.

Awkward run-ins with former colleagues around town became the norm.

"Imagine the anxiety of bumping into an ex at a mutual friend's party," Segal said. "Now imagine feeling like that every time you walked down the street. That's what navigating town felt like in the weeks after the layoff."