|Sam Samsonov became an Internet sensation|
this week aftere being fired for using $5.50 of his
own money to fix a mistake he made in the toll booth
where he worked.
Samsonov, 77, worked in the toll booth for 30 years and people really liked him. He'd hand out dog treats to cars with dogs in them, and sometimes lollipops to children.
He was fired a few days ago, though.
Why? He accidentally forgot to charge $5.50 for a trailer being towed behind a vehicle.
OK, so he shorted the toll booth company $5.50?
Not exactly. To fix the mistake, he just took $5.50 out of his own pocket and put it in the register to make up for the shortfall. He figured he made the error, so he'd make up the difference.
That, apparently, is against the rules, says the Huffington Post.
I guess Samsonov has got a record of "breaking the rules." He has occasionally ponied up a little money when motorists have driven up to the toll booth and realized they didn't have enough money with them to pay the toll.
According to the local NBC affiliate, he knew it was against the rules to pay the tolls, but he'd never been written up for the "transgression." I don't know why it's against the rules, because his former employer, the Gasparilla Island Bridge Authority, still gets all the money that's due.
However, the local paper, the Boca Beacon, interviewed his bosses, who said that under auditing rules, putting your own money into the till is considered fraudulent. Instead, he shouldn't have noted his mistake as an explanation as to why the books that day were off by $5.50.
The bosses said everyone makes mistakes, that's OK, but putting your own money in the till is NOT OK.
I don't know accounting, so I still don't know why this is "fraud."
In an age when it seems like big banks get away with murder through accounting tricks, it seems a little odd that taking ownership of and fixing a $5.50 mistake is fraudulent.
As punishment, the Authority offered Samson work two days a week instead of five, but Samsonov didn't go for it. "If I can't be trusted for five days, how can I be trusted for two days,?" he asked.
Of course, this information comes from Samsonov's daughter's Facebook page. The Gasparilla Island Bridge Authority says it doesn't talk about personnel matters, so maybe there's more to the firing than this.
Still, people in the area love the guy. This is the first time I'm aware of that people actually like a toll collector and are trying to reinstate him.
The Boca Beacon, ran an editorial praising him:
"You represent part of what so many llike 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."
Although the Internet is riled up about what happened to Samsonov, don't worry about him. His wife said he was working too hard anyway. He's got a nice military pension to live on, he says, so money isn't going to be a worry.
He says, though, it's nice to know his community has got his back.