When Washington D.C. residents Mary Jo and Buzz booked their trip to Milwaukee earlier this year to attend their niece’s wedding, they had no idea that they would travel under such bizarre and complicated circumstances.
“We’re waiting to find out if he has a job when we get back,” says Mary Jo a few minutes after we met in the Lobby Bar.
Buzz, an employee of the U.S. State Department since 1975, was unsure about the future of his job due to the government shutdown.
“Everything does not shut down at once. It happens in stages. With us, they are trying to stretch it out and keep people earning salaries, but we just don’t know,” says Buzz. “They are really doing their best, but the information is contradictory. A lot of ‘yes, no, maybe.’ Right now, you just can’t plan ahead. You can’t count on anything.”
Buzz was scheduled to take a trip to the United Nations on Sunday, but at the time of our interview on Friday had no idea if he’d be going or not.
“We have an extra suitcase in the car, but we don’t know if he’s going. Or if he’s getting paid anymore,” says Mary Jo.
The irony of the situation is that Buzz originally took off Friday as a vacation day to travel to Milwaukee for the wedding. Of course he had no idea when he requested the vacation day that he would have the day “off” anyway.
“If this goes on for too long, there will be impact,” says Buzz. “She’s a retired school teacher. I guess she’s just going to have to keep me.”
Mary Jo laughs.
“I’ll keep him. I told him he can use this time to ‘try out’ retirement,” she says.
Then she gets a little more serious.
“It’s unnerving. But we have never been to Milwaukee before. We are attending a beautiful wedding tomorrow. We are in this lovely hotel. We just decided no matter what, we are going to have a good time,” she says.