Job: Director, Parking and Transportation
Josh Cantor didn’t aspire to a career in parking. With degrees in government and political science, he worked for a California congressman until the guy lost an election. When Cantor looked for other work, being the son of a university professor, he naturally gravitated toward higher ed and took a job in parking administration at California State University, Fullerton. In 2005, he came to Mason to serve as the university’s first director of Parking and Transportation.
Home Team: Although Parking and Transportation are outsourced to third-party vendors (ps+ for parking, Reston Limousine for the shuttles), Cantor and two of his top managers are university employees. About 120 people work for the office. “The only difference is their paycheck comes from somewhere else,” he says.
No Avoiding It: Cantor sees parking as “one of those necessary evils. We are part of virtually everything that happens on campus and deal with more people than any other operation at the university. A big part of the job is knowing what’s going on on campus and what the impact is going to be—and what our role is in supporting it.”
That’s the Ticket: Contrary to what most people believe, there isn’t a quota on tickets, and they don’t write them to make money. “Writing tickets is a tool. The role of tickets isn’t to be punitive. They account for about 3.5 percent of our revenue stream, and there is no quota. It is a small part of the job.”
Up Close and Personal: When it comes to parking, Cantor says people, no matter how conscientious they are, look at it from a very personal level. “It is easy to lose your detachment if you’ve been sitting in traffic and can’t find a space. Then it is ‘Why are you doing this to me?’” That’s why Cantor sees educating people about their options as a big part of his job.
Irate Customers: Cantor answers many of the complaint emails and nasty tweets himself, and encourages his staff not to take the outbursts personally. “We are looking out for everyone’s best interests. The goal with customers is getting them to a place where we can find a solution. If you do it respectfully, you can get through to people. Our front-line staff deals with more customers than I do, and I want them know that what they do makes a big difference.”
All in a Day’s Work: Cantor likes to joke that he had a full head of hair when he started working at Mason. “To do this job, you need to have a good sense of humor and you have to like people.” And after 11 years of zany parking excuses, he says he has collected some good material for a sitcom. “The job’s not boring.”
The Hours: Although he can’t be everywhere, Cantor says sometimes it is much easier to actually see for yourself what’s happening when something is going awry traffic-wise. “I’m not going to be here 24 hours, although sometimes it feels like it.” In fact he credits the university’s commitment to work/life balance and the opportunity to telework when he can as a large part of why he enjoys working at Mason.
Double duty: As the father of three boys, Cantor doesn’t have a lot of downtime as it is. All three sons are involved in scouting with the older two working toward their Eagle. And they all play ice hockey.