Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 

No one truly deserves anything in life.

Sometimes, things happen at astounding moments, for no reason.

These events can propel you forward or they can derail you into an unexpected abyss.

Please imagine, then, the feelings of Ka'Shawn Baldwin on Wednesday when he was pulled over by the police in Cahokia, Illinois.

He was on his way to a job interview with FedEx.

Unfortuntately, the car he was driving had expired plates. His driver's license had expired, too.

This was trouble.

Yet, as Francella Jackson -- assistant to the Cahokia mayor -- explained on Facebook, things took a very different turn: 

He told Officer Gemoules that he had a job interview and didn't have any way of getting there and that's why he was driving illegally.

Many police officers would have offered a lecture about personal responsibility. They'd have issued tickets and told Baldwin he should obey the law and learn from the experience.

Let's go back to Jackson: 

Instead of issuing him a ticket, Officer Gemoules took him to his interview AND HE GOT THE JOB!

She described it as an excellent lesson in community policing.

I wonder if Baldwin told the story of the traffic stop during the interview.

Still, tales like this serve as a pungent reminder of how the intervention of just one person -- especially someone wielding influence or power -- can affect careers and lives.

On the positive side, a superior believing in you and making the right recommendation at the right time can send your career in a direction you never expected.

Equally, in our extremely accusatory world, one person's negative whisper can derail the way you're seen by so many.

At heart, there's little you can do in the short term.

Especially if, as in Baldwin's case, you're at the mercy of another human being.

Let's not forget, too -- though, in an ideal world, it should be irrelevant -- that Baldwin is a black man and the officer was white.

Who knows how much his situation might have worsened if Officer Gemoules had adhered to the rules or exercised prejudice?

Baldwin told KDSK-TV that he already works at McDonald's, with a 90-minute commute by bus. Yet he needed this second job as a FedEx packer in order to pay for a new license and a car.

Kindness tends to be in short supply these days. There's little more moving, though, than when a stranger demonstrates it.

Last year, for example, I wrote about the Starbucks drive- thru customer who, for no reason other than to be kind, paid for the coffee of the stranger behind her.

Subsequently, they became friends.

And that's the thing with most successful careers and lives.

Somewhere, at some time, you'll need a friend. 

Whether you know who they are or not. 

Published on: Apr 19, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.