Michael Mason had a storied career with the Federal Bureau of Investigations. As the Executive Assistant Director, he oversaw the FBI’s criminal branch. “About half of the FBI fell under me,” Mason says. “And I was, just for context, fourth on the FBI’s food chain.” Now? He’s a school bus driver for special education students.
After working at the FBI for 23 years, Mason briefly retired. After learning that more than half of America’s school districts are reporting “severe” or “desperate” school bus driver shortages, including in his own community in Chesterfield, Virginia, Mason decided to do something to alleviate the problem and applied to become a school bus driver.
“When the pandemic struck, there were so many people that were doing so many extra things. People like reporters and grocery store workers who still had to get out and get their job done. I felt like I can be doing something to help in this post-pandemic recovery.”
Giving Back To The Community
He hopes to inspire others to get involved in their communities. “I believe if all of us gave a little something, wow, how we could impact this world. How we could change this world,” he said.
It may not be his first career, but Mason takes his job seriously. “Before we start up the bus each morning, I do a pre-inspection and make my rounds on the bus. The thing that I want to primarily assure is that every kid is going to be safe on this bus.”
“I’m probably one of the few bus drivers who has Turtle Wax in his kit back there, because my hood was so oxidized and I said, ‘Oh no. I can’t do that,’” Mason said with a laugh. “So, I am what I am.”
“I’ve done some important things, but guess what? This is important, too,” Mason said. “This job has truly expanded my capacity for empathy and understanding,” he says. “I have kids who are sometimes as placid as a beautiful lake, and sometimes are as chaotic as a storm.”
Mason hopes his nonlinear career move will inspire others to recognize that “important work” comes in many forms, and whether you’re an executive of a critical government body or a school bus driver, “we all contribute stones to build the cathedral.”
One way you can help is by finding out if your association is offering volunteer opportunities. Volunteering can be a fulfilling and fun way to work alongside your peers to help your community. Even the smallest gesture to help your community makes a difference!