A 77-year-old veteran was fired from his job working at a Florida tollbooth after his superiors asked him to take a reduced role when they found out he paid a driver’s $5 toll out of his own pocket.
Vladislav ‘Sam’ Samsonov of Boca Grande declined the offer by the Gasparilla Island Bridge Authority to scale back his days to two instead of five and was terminated from his position.
Samsonov had been working at the Boca Grande Causeway for 29 years and it was not the first time he had used his own money if a driver didn’t have enough cash or if there had been a mistake.
During the incident that got Samsonov terminated, he mistakenly undercharged the driver and made up the difference himself despite past warnings about using his own money, NBC 2 reported.
Samsonov said: ‘I’d put the six dollars in, I got the six dollars back the next day.
‘In my eyes there was no crime committed, I just helped somebody out.’
He was a fixture in the community and news of his dismissal generated backlash on social media.
People who remembered him giving their dogs bones or their children lollipops spoke out on Samsonov’s behalf and a friend printed out a page of all the nice Facebook comments he received.
The outpouring of support was much appreciated by Samsonov, although his family was quick to speak out against Facebook users who were making threats and using foul language.
Samsonov said: ‘Makes me feel good, makes me want to cry. But bite your tongue and you’ll be ok.’
The editor of the Boca Beacon, Marcy Shortuse, even wrote a tribute to the ‘Gasparilla Island fixture’ in a special Editor’s Note.
Shortuse wrote: ‘You represent part of what so many like about Boca Grande – a person can be gone for years, but once they cross that bridge they’re back in the land of familiar faces.
‘It’s people like you that we took for granted would always be there in the booth on weekday mornings.
‘We will adjust, we will adapt, but we will never forget you, Sam.
‘Thank you for your service to our community. You’re a good guy.’
Samsonov plans to move on to doing volunteer work and might not even accept his job back if it were offered to him.
His family is also looking into pursuing legal action if they determine laws were broken.
The Gasparilla Island Bridge Authority has not commented on the matter.
Source: Daily Mail