If anyone has earned a coffee break, it's 63-year-old Mike Mason of Midlothian, Virginia. He has served his country for decades — first as a captain in the Marines and later as the No. 4 man at the FBI.
Mason left the bureau in 2007 and went to work as an executive at a Fortune 500 company, and then retired. But Mason said retirement did not sit well with him.
"I still had a mind and I still had things I was capable of doing," he said.
But if he was going to start a new chapter, he knew it would have to be something really important — a job with a big payout and worthy of his time. The choice was clear: He became a school bus driver.
"When I gave them my resume, I actually got called by a very senior person in the county and he said, 'Just checking, why do you want to be a bus driver?' And I told him," Mason said.
Mason had heard the Chesterfield County Public School District was short 125 drivers. It's part of a national crisis, with more than half of school districts in the U.S. reporting "severe" driver shortages. So Mason stepped up.
"I think this is important work, I do," he said, adding that he believes the work is just as important as what he was doing at the FBI. "I think in our society we need to get next to the idea that there are no unimportant jobs. I mean, what could be more important than the attention we pay to our education system?"
As for the salary, Mason said he has already donated all of what he expects to make this year — more than $35,000 — to various charities. But, of course, the much bigger gift is far less tangible.
Mason had climbed to the highest level, but by stepping back and beginning a completely new career in a time of need, he is demonstrating the greatest leadership of all. Leadership, by example.