More than half of America’s school districts are reporting “severe” or “desperate” school bus driver shortages, according to a nationwide survey. In Chesterfield County, Virginia, at least one man is stepping in to help.
School bus driver is not Michael Mason’s first career. In fact, he’s retired from the FBI. “About half of the FBI fell under me,” Mason told CBS affiliate WTVR. “And I was, just for context, I was fourth on the FBI’s food chain.”
Mason was the executive assistant director of the FBI and retired after 23 years with the agency. But unlike many retirees, Mason is not sitting at home and relaxing. He started a new job – as a bus driver.
The shortage of bus drivers has impacted countless families nationwide. One single mother in Baltimoreshe is forced to call a Lyft three to four times a week just to get her kids to school. In Massachusetts, National Guard personnel were to drive buses. Pennsylvania is now considering doing the same.
Mason found out about the school bus driver shortage in his area while watching WTVR, and decided to do something to help. “When the pandemic struck, there were so many people that were doing so many extra things. People like [reporters], who still have to get out here,” he told WTVR’s Rob Cardwell.
“People like grocery store workers, people like telecommunications workers. All kinds of folks who still had to do their job,” Mason continued. “And I felt like I can be doing something to help in this post-pandemic recovery.”
He hopes to inspire others to get involved in their community. “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, we do what’s called a pre-inspection,” he told Cardwell, making his rounds on the bus. “The thing that we 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.