Toll Collector Fired for Paying Customer's Toll: Report
'Sam' Samsonov says he did it sometimes when customers were short
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 20, 2015 4:30 PM CDT
Locals are rallying behind Sam.   (Facebook)

(Newser) – A Florida toll collector has lost his job of almost 30 years after putting his own money in the till to make up for a customer who hadn't paid enough, NBC2 reports. Vladislav "Sam" Samsonov, 77, known for giving lollipops to kids and dog bones to dogs, says he was just balancing the register by a few bucks after undercharging a trailer driver last week—which he did occasionally when drivers were short. "In my eyes there was no crime committed, I just helped somebody out," he says. "I'd put the six dollars in, I got the six dollars back the next day." But the Gasparilla Island Bridge Authority, which had reprimanded Samsonov about this before, reacted by offering him two days a week instead of five. He turned the offer down: "If I can't be trusted for five days, how can I be trusted for two days?" he says.

Samsonov talks about seeking volunteer work, but admits he'll miss co-workers at the toll. "They were my family," he says. A woman identifying as his daughter posted on Facebook that people shouldn't worry about him, because "this is Sam's second retirement after [being] in the military for 26 years and he is well taken care of with benefits." That hasn't stopped a "Support Sam Samsonov" Facebook page and others from expressing their outrage. There's sadness, too: "Sam, you were a Gasparilla Island fixture," writes Marcy Shortuse at the Boca Beacon. "It’s people like you that we took for granted would always be there in the booth on weekday mornings." Samsonov's family and friends say they're looking into a possible legal claim over the firing.