A 77-year-old toll collector from Boca Raton, Florida has been fired after nearly 30 years on the job.
His offence? He paid someone’s toll.
When longtime roadside fixture Vladislav “Sam” Samsonov accidentally undercharged a driver and decided to pay the difference out of his own pocket, his superiors weren’t impressed with his good doing.
Apparently it wasn’t the first time he’s done this.
Samsonov has admitted to doing this before, in addition to making up the difference for drivers who didn’t have enough money to pay the toll themselves.
“In my eyes, there was no crime committed. I just helped someone out,” says Samsonov.
He says he has been asked not to do this, but never formally written up. In the wake of his latest incident, his superiors attempted to drop his five working days to two – and Samsonov refused.
“If I can’t be trusted for five days, how can I be trusted for two days?” he asks in the video below, an interview for NBC.
For Samsonov, it’s not about the money – it’s about the conversations with people and the relationships he’s developed over the 29 years he’s held his position. The beloved toll collector was known to give kids lollipops and dogs bones. “I gave children suckers 22 or 23 years ago; now I’m giving them suckers for their children,” says Samsonov.
Since the NBC video, Samsonov told the Boca Beacon that the whole thing has been blown out of proportion. Though he appreciates the support, things like a crowd funding page to send him on vacation simply aren’t necessary. He and his wife are doing just fine financially, and he was never going to receive a pension from the Gasparilla Island Bridge Authority (he already has a full military pension from the United States Armed Forces).
The widespread attention came after his daughter posted a Facebook message explaining his dismissal.