By Judy Berman
Every morning, “Melissa” drove the same route to work. All day, she just typed stats. She was in a rut, and it was really getting to her.
What if she ditched her boring routine and took a detour?
That’s what a New York City bus driver did in 1947 and a famous author did about 20 years earlier.
“Melissa” parked her car near the airport, and watched as planes landed and others took off for parts unknown.
What would it be like to be on one of those flights?
She glanced over at a book on the passenger’s seat, and smiled as she looked at the author’s photo.
The author, a famous mystery writer, went missing for 11 days after a fight with her philandering husband. Archibald Christie wanted a divorce and left to spend the weekend with his mistress, Nancy Neele.
That same night, Dec. 3, 1926, Agatha Christie vanished. Her car was found abandoned, and it’s believed she boarded a train to London.
For 11 days, there was an intense search for her.
Her disappearance made front-page news, across the pond, in The New York Times.
What happens when a well-known author goes missing? Police seek out the usual suspects. The spouse is usually the first to fall under suspicion.
For Christie, the author of many who-done-its, it had the makings of a plot from one of her novels.
For such a recognizable woman, Christie managed to hide in plain sight at the Swan Hydrophathic Hotel (now “Old Swan Hotel”) in Harrogate. She had registered under a pseudonym.
Still, a man staying at the hotel recognized her, and reported it to police.
Some thought she wanted to frame her husband for murder. Others thought that her disappearance was just a publicity stunt.
In an article in The New Yorker, “Queen of Crime,” “It was hypothesized that (Christie) had experienced fugue, a form of amnesia, in which a person travels to another place and assumes another identity.”
Christie and her family seemed to have accepted that. “She claimed to have no recollection of what happened, and her autobiography says not one word about the incident,” according to The New Yorker article. (Aug. 16, 2010)
The Christies divorced in 1928. Two years later, she married archaeologist Max Mallowan, who she met at an archaeological dig.
For the writer who loved to keep us guessing as we read her novels, the mystery remains. Why did she decide to run off? Christie never did say publicly.
New York City bus driver, William Cimillo, had a similar urge in 1947. But he was quite clear as to what drove him to it. He got tired of the same old routine on his route – same people, same stops, same transfers.
One day, after nearly 20 years on the job, Cimillo decided to take a busman’s holiday. He said in an interview that aired on “This American Life” that he “decided to make a left turn instead of a right.”
Cimillo drove his bus out of The Bronx, stopped for some sight-seeing at the White House in Washington, D.C. Then, he headed for a beach in Florida.
It wasn’t until Cimillo was running low on money that he contacted his company. He hoped they’d wire him some money. Instead, they sent the cops, and he was brought back in handcuffs.
For Cimillo, the publicity surrounding his escapade made him a hero. The company dropped the charges, and he got his job back.
“Melissa” could identify with that desire to get away from it all. She also wanted a change of pace.
She put her car in reverse, backed out of the parking lot. “Melissa’s” bags were packed. She was ready to go, and headed toward the airport.
Her final destination was uncertain, but not knowing was energizing and exciting – an abrupt departure from the same old, same old.
Would you take a leap and risk it all just to start fresh in a new setting?
COPYRIGHT NOTICE: Judy Berman and earthrider, 2011-15. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to (Judy Berman) and (earthrider, earth-rider.com, or earthriderdotcom) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
Music Video: “Leaving on a Jet Plane” by Peter, Paul and Mary https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c8jEapecSqc
Photo: London Underground – taken March 16, 2014 – Author: Au Morandarte, London, Middlesex, England http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/d/da/Au_ Morandarte_Flickr_DSC00925_%2813231942933%29.jpg/640px-Au_Morandarte_Flickr_DSC00925_%2813231942933%29.jpg
Photo: Agatha Christie – British writer of crime and detective fiction. (1925) Source: http://www.themakeupgallery.info/lookalike/writers/christie.htm http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/e2/Christie1925.jpg
Photo: Dame Agatha Christie (1954). (Photo by Walter Bird/Getty Images) http://history1900s.about.com/od/people/a/Agatha-Christie.htm?nl=1
Photo: Bus driver – William Cimillo – who, in 1947, took a detour from his bus route in Bronx, New York, to Florida. http://www.radiodiaries.org/busmans-holiday/
Queen of Crime, The New Yorker – Aug. 16, 2010 http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2010/08/16/queen-of-crime
Agatha Christie – Official site – (videos and more) http://www.agathachristie.com/about-christie/christies-life/a-difficult-time/
This American Life radio show – “The Leap” – Ira Glass tells the story of William Cimillo, a New York bus driver who snapped one day in 1947, left his regular route, and drove his company’s municipal bus to Florida. http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/539/the-leap?act=0#play