77-year-old Vladislav "Sam" Samsonov has been a dedicated toll collector for nearly 30 years. His community knows him as a kind-hearted man who likes to give lollipops and treats to the locals.
But today the Boca Raton, Florida man is not at work, as he has received a notice of termination from the Gasparilla Island Bridge Authority (GIBA). According to a video news report by Florida NBC station NBC2, Samsonov was fired after paying $5.50, out of pocket, for a trailer driver he had accidentally undercharged.
While most would deem this a random act of kindness, as no money was lost to the employer, the GIBA felt differently.
"In my eyes there was no crime committed. I just helped someone out," Sam told the news station.
The NBC2 reporter says that "For Sam, this job wasn't about the money, it was about the people he met," and this is clearly the case as he had a history of paying tolls for drivers who did not have enough cash on them when they reached the toll plaza.
As punishment for these abominable crimes again humanity, GIBA requested Samsonov work two days instead of five, but Samsonov declined saying "If I can't be trusted for five days, how can I be trusted for two days?" As a result, he was fired.
The NBC2 News reporter stated GIBA declined to comment.
"After 29 years, you can't help it," said Samsonov. "I gave children suckers 20 years ago. Now I'm giving those children suckers for their children."
But his good work over the last three decades did not go unnoticed, and when his daughter, Patricia Samsonov Gillis, posted the story on the The Boca Beacon's Facebook, there was an outpour of comments, expressing love and appreciation for Samsonov and his affect on the community.
"Please know that the only thing upsetting him about this is that he will no longer see all of your familiar faces each day," Gillis writes in her Facebook post. "I called him this morning to read your comments to him and he was tearing up." And it's no wonder Samsonov got emotional reading the printed Facebook comments...
They were filled with kind words, like those of Ru Walters who wrote "Sam is the best!! Personable and kind. I've had the pleasure of knowing him for many, many years!"
Sam's daughter went on to say that this is her father's second retirement, as he also served in the military for 26 years and is taken care of with benefits. Still, he plans on volunteering at the local hospital a few days a week.
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