Most people are familiar with the British passenger liner Titanic, On April 15, 1912 during its maiden voyage, it struck an iceberg and sank to the bottom of the North Atlantic Ocean taking with it more than 1500 passengers.
Few people are familiar with one of the 498 survivors, introvert Felix Flambeau who might have saved the ship had it not been for his reclusive ways.
Flambeau, an itinerant toothpick designer from Boonton, New Jersey was taking his first-ever vacation. Using his life savings, he booked a luxury one-bedroom cabin on the ocean liner. Initially, he was having the time of his life: avoiding passengers, avoiding the crowded buffet lines and avoiding invitations to enter limbo contests.
All that changed on the evening of April 15th when, while seeking some solitude underneath an unoccupied deck chair, he spotted an enormous iceberg ahead of the ship.
Sensing the seriousness of the situation but not wanting to approach a crewmember much less make eye contact with them, Flambeau leaped into action. He made a mental note to write the captain a serious warning note and slip it under his door the next morning.
Tragically, the Titanic struck the iceberg and sank before dawn, denying Felix a place in history as the world’s first introverted hero.
As the ship began to sink into the freezing North Atlantic Ocean, passengers desperately fought to board crowded lifeboats. The dazed Flambeau stood by, witnessing the ensuing chaos. Suddenly, a voice from a panic-stricken hoard offered him a place in their jam-packed boat. Felix didn’t want to go down with the ship, but the idea of spending time in a crowded vessel, making small talk with total strangers was more than he could imagine. He politely declined their generous offer.
Felix Flambeau leaped off the ship’s bow and floated alone in the ice-cold water for two days. During this time rescue ships passed within whispering distance, but he remained silent, not wanting to attract attention to himself. Finally, he was rescued by an Argentine trawler which had spotted “a strange man floating in the water writing post cards.” For the solitary gentleman from Booton, New Jersey, it was the most peaceful and enjoyable part of his vacation.