Vladislav “Sam” Samsonov, a beloved 77-year-old toll collector, was fired for paying the toll of a stranger.
After realizing he had undercharged a trailer driver on the Gasparilla Island Bridge near Fort Meyers, Samsonov went to fix the mistake by paying the $5 they owed out of his own pocket.
“He broke the rules by putting $5.50 into the cash register from his pocket after he realized he missed a trailer being pulled by a vehicle and wanted his register to balance with the axel counts and was caught on tape putting money from his pocket into the register,” wrote Samsanov’s daughter on Facebook.
Samsonov, who had been a toll collector for 30 years, was beloved in the community. He would hand out lollipops to children and kept treats for dogs. He tells NBC2 that he would regularly pay for drivers who were short of cash. Few toll collectors receive a heartfelt goodbye column in the local paper or have a news reporter from states away sharing sympathy, or have a Facebook page showing support with over 3,000 likes.
Samsonov is left looking for answers on why he was fired.
“In my eyes there was no crime committed, I just helped somebody out,” Samsonov said on his firing.
Samsonov says he misses the people who passed by his toll. “They were my family,” he told NBC2.