Supporters Rally Around Florida Toll Collector Fired After Nearly 30 Years on the Job

07/20/2015 AT 11:00 PM EDT

As Vladislav "Sam" Samsonov sees it, he was doing the right thing.

According to a news report from Florida NBC station WBBH, the 77-year-old toll collector from Boca Raton, Florida, accidentally undercharged a driver and decided to pay the difference out of his own pocket.

Samsonov admits he did this occasionally, in addition to making up the difference for drivers who didn't have enough money to pay the toll. He'd been asked not to do this, and news of this latest infraction allegedly prompted his superiors drop him down from working five days a week to two. Samsonov refused.

"If I can't be trusted for five days, how can I be trusted for two days?" Samsonov told WBBH.



He'd been working as a toll collector for nearly 30 years and had forged real relationships with the drivers he'd see often.

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"After 29 years, you can't help it," he said. "I gave children suckers 20 years ago. Now I'm giving those children suckers for their children," Samsonov said.

Now those drivers are reaching out in support. Samsonov's daughter posted her father's story to Facebook, and the item has generated hundreds of likes, shares and comments. The Boca Beacon even printed an op-ed stated that Sam would be missed.

Samsonov said he appreciated the support. "Makes me feel good," he said. "Makes me want to cry. But bite your tongue and you'll be OK."

The Gasparilla Island Bridge Authority declined to comment to WBBH, saying it does not discuss personnel matters.
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