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airport story

By Robyn Openshaw | Mar 15, 2010

Just a warning: today’s blog has nothing to do with nutrition. It’s just a funny story about something that happened in the Long Beach airport on the way home from Anaheim yesterday.

So Tiffani and I got there almost 3 hours before our flight was to leave. We’d been at a raw restaurant with lots of people from the show, raw foodie and earthy crunchy friends with dreadlocks and guitars, the night before, till late. And we’d been talking to people for 3 days straight. My vendors were there. My best friend and her parents from San Fran. One of my favorite readers, Tonya. A few of my former university students who came to hang out with me. A million people trying to get us to try their stuff. Skinny Bitch, the author. Heather Mills, the richest ex-wife in history. The Biggest Loser (who looks to have gained a few kilos). The whole show was a trip!

Point is, we were both in need of a cat nap.

So we saw these comfy chairs with no arm rests between them and we sprawled out. Each of us was taking up two seats. No big deal, in a room full of 250 chairs and about 10 people. Right? Well, you’d think.

A lady and her husband walked up. She had that frown-lined face that speaks of a lifetime of conflict and bitterness. She demanded: “ARE YOU GOING TO TAKE UP THAT WHOLE SPACE YOURSELVES?”

I said we were going to take a little nap. Tif pointed out that there were many chairs, all of them comfy, with hardly anyone in the waiting area. The lady became angry and demanded that we give her the seats. I said, very quietly to Tif, “I don’t think we should do something just because a bully wants us to.”

So Frowny Lady stormed over to a security guard. The guard came over with a triumphant Frowny and asked us, “Do you need that space?” We said yes, and the guard said to the lady, “Well I can’t MAKE them move,” and walked away.

At this point, I was finding the whole thing really amusing and I was fighting a case of the giggles. You know, the kind that you keep trying to suppress–you cover your mouth, you clamp your lips together–but it just going to come out no matter what! I think people who see a room full of hundreds of chairs and want the ONE and ONLY THE ONE someone else has–well, it seemed like great comedy at the time.

So an even funnier thing happened. Frowny stomped over and sat in MY seat, right up against me. She plopped down really hard, with a big “UMPH!” sound, to be extra obnoxious. Wiggled her fanny around to really settle in. Not in the seat next to me, mind you, but IN MY SEAT WITH ME.

Every point of the side of her body was in total contact with mine.

Well, here’s the thing. I love to defuse situations like that by doing what I call THE OPPOSITE. The opposite of what most people would do. The opposite of what is expected. The opposite of instinct.

When I make a driving error and someone flips me off, I employ THE OPPOSITE. I wave enthusiastically as if the person giving me The Bird is a close friend I am thrilled to reconnect with, on the road. (Warning: your children will be mortified by this.) (Tip: do this while thinking of someone you would truly love to see in the other car.)

The person who made the obscene gesture is completely taken off guard. At first they are startled and think (watch carefully and you can see this thought register on their face), “Oh no! I just flipped off a friend!”

Then they see they really don’t KNOW me, and they become very annoyed, because they’ve failed in their goal to make me angry. Instead I’m obviously just stupid in my giddiness to say hello, grinning ear-to-ear.

Back to the airport story. Doing THE OPPOSITE came in handy.

I imagined her being my grandma, whom I like very much. I snuggled into her–burrowed, really–and put my head on her shoulder, closed my eyes. Took a long, leisurely breath. A contented sigh, really. This was going to be an even better nap than I’d get stretched out! Perfect!

This did not, however, go over big. She said:


Tiffani, whose jaw had been hanging open ever since I decided to enjoy my lovely, soft, Frowny pillow, finally spoke, indignantly:

“But you’re touching HER!”

Well, Frowny got up and stormed off. Everyone in the room laughed so hard, and so long, that very frankly the whole event was worth the stress. Laughter is like raw food, and oxygen–it’s just GOOD FOR YOU!

One woman, an hour later, came over and cozied up to me IN MY CHAIR just like Frowny had, and then cracked up and went back to her chair. One guy couldn’t stop laughing for about 20 minutes. Other people showed up, and they were told the story, and everyone got to enjoy it over and over.

It was great fun. Try it sometime. Do THE OPPOSITE. Anger is toxic. It’s really fun to defuse it.

My friend Laura once said, “Everything that happens is good. Either it works out well, or it makes a great story.” Hope you enjoyed mine.

Posted in: Detox

105 thoughts on “airport story”

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Good story Robin,

    Being able to show love, acceptance and non-judgmentalism when being attacked is the best thing you could ever do. To bad Frowny could not accept what you were giving her. I am sure she got it though and will not soon forget you and the gift you offered. This is how conflict and wars could be solved. Good job Smoothie Girl.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Robin, I live in Huntington Beach, 20 minutes from the Long Beach airport. The next time you have a long layover give us a call and you can stretch out on our couch. We will even share a green smoothy with you. My wife, who is a grandma, said, “Tell Robin if she needs a soft shoulder to snuggle on that she can use mine for I have had a lot of practice with my 12 grandchildren.”

    1. Robyn Openshaw says:

      Aw, that’s the sweetest offer I’ve had in a long time! Maybe I will! (I miss my grama, the real one who I write about in “My Story” on the site, and who has a lot to do with my journey. My other grama is still around–she’s my only living grandparent’s fifth wife, but she’s the one who lasted–42 years now!)

      As an aside, that’s hopeful for those still looking for their mate in mid-life–a great marriage where it took him several tries and lots of “learning and growth opportunities” but he finally got it right!

  3. Robyn, that is awesome! It says so much about you that you could shift that episode right in the moment. So much. Sometimes certain types of people really push our most sensitive buttons and Frowny’s job in the world is probably to do just that. She has to be good for some purpose – so she’s a wraskely wrabbit! Can you IMAGINE what that poor husband of hers must have done to deserve that? He must be a saint in disguise. I agree with another commenter – I am sure you rocked her world and she’s probably still thinking about that incident. Just being that close to you probably transferred something good. Maybe you just changed the course of her life? I like to think BIG! 🙂 Thanks for WHO you are Robyn. I am really enjoying your site and your books.

  4. That is a gorgeous story! Thanks for the smile.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Hope she saw everyone laughing,,that would just make matters worse for the witch,,,,,,,,,,

  6. Anonymous says:

    Great story! Frowny definitely needs a Green Smoothie. She was probably extremely constipated and doesn’t even realize it, and she needs a lesson on manners. One of the things I’ve noticed sinced I’ve been drinking my smoothies is a peace of mind and things simply don’t bother me like they use to. Just the other morning when I was pouring my smoothie into my 32 oz. jar I spilled half of my smoothie onto the counter, me and on the floor. I just smiled to myself and invited my dog to lick it up. Point to the story I would have been really upset and even though no one was home I would have still reacted awhile back. It’s such a nice feeling inside not to get upset with yourself or with others. I also wave when someone flips me off. Thanks for the story!!!!

    1. Robyn Openshaw says:

      Kim, I can’t stop laughing:

      “Frowny definitely needs a Green Smoothie. She was probably extremely constipated and doesn’t even realize it”

  7. Anonymous says:

    Beautiful. That’s the sort of thing you should have recorded and posted to Youtube.



  8. Anonymous says:

    LOVE this story! I didn’t know what to expect at first, but you had me in stitches. THANK YOU…because I needed a good laugh today. And I am going to employ your idea of doing the opposite. I think that is great!

  9. Anonymous says:

    Great fun! What a laugh! I had to tell the story (and read the last half) to my husband when he walked into the room, who said, ‘Ya, just don’t do that to a guy.’ My stepson heard as well. They simultaneously finished the thought, “…unless you want to get punched in the face.” Ha. –just a heads-up to the ladies (or guys) out there who don’t want to get punched out. On the “Other” haaaannnnd…a pretty lady snuggling up to an angry guy…still may work…to diffuse. –in any case, it would certainly catch him off guard.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Just love it!!!! And Ron’s story – magic!!!

  11. Anonymous says:

    That was a tremendous story of spontanaity for you and Ron. Excellent. A few years ago when I worked as a flight attendant for the 50 seater planes that only required one f.a., I would do crazy things to diffuse that tense fear of flying that many passengers traveled with. Once I wore these huge rose colored glasses that were too big for my face. I wore them through the whole flight from start to finish expecting someone to say something but they just stared and kept silent, even as they left the plane. It was a fun experiment in human psychology. I know I’m dating myself but I felt like it could’ve been a Candid Camera episode.

    1. Robyn Openshaw says:


  12. Anonymous says:

    Oh you’re sooooooo great. I’m still laughing over this story. I’ll have to try this more often. Thanks for the raw laughter.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Great Story! You made my morning. I just finished praying for God’s help in times of frustration; learning how to respond in a more positive way – I think my prayer was answered.

    Although I too have waved frantically at people that have flipped me off and am quite amused by their reaction, I have never tried anything as deliciously audacious as that. Not that I welcome anyone’s poor behavior, but I almost can’t wait until the opportunity presents itself to find a creative way to tackle a “frowny”. Awesome! Thanks for sharing.

  14. Anonymous says:

    It’s funny what you have done. I also like to do the opposit. The thing is by responding some people think you are just plain crazy. This works for because they will now leave you alone. Glad to see I am not the only one.

  15. Anonymous says:

    This reminds me of my Mother-in-law: she was working at Wal-mart awhile ago and a teenage boy came through her line, sporting a mohawk. She couldn’t help staring and he rudely asked: “What are YOU lookin’ at?” Her response? (with a sincere smile)”I have never seen hair like that – how do you get it to do that? … can I touch it?” …followed by a discussion on how long it takes to get it just right, and they parted as friends.

    I loved your story and all the comments! This works quite well on two-year-olds, come to think of it: we all sometimes do the strangest things (lol, probably when we’re dehydrated!) to get attention, then get upset when people notice (or don’t run away). Amazing how free our minds and hearts can be when they’re fed green things! 🙂

  16. Anonymous says:

    I LOVE this whole story! I was “hand gestured” by a a school bus driver today-and was so stunned…I just ignored him. I wish now that I HAD madly waved and smiled:) You, my friend- are an awesome example of just how the world should react to negative energy!

  17. Anonymous says:

    I assume Frowny was having a bad day and I hope your having fun gave her something to think about. I hope she found some fun and laughter in it too and gave her a better day.

  18. Robyn-

    That’s AWESOME! YOu made my day just by sharing it. Thanks:)


  19. Anonymous says:

    I love this story. Wish I could have been there to watch the fun.

    I like Robyn’s comment that she was probably extremely constipated; that just started a whole other round of laughing. After getting off to a bad start today now I am grinning from ear to ear. Thank you for sharing this hilarious story.

    1. Robyn Openshaw says:

      Well, that wasn’t my comment . . . it was Kim’s . . . .

  20. Anonymous says:

    Robyn, that is such a great story! And I think I know which chairs you’re talking about. 🙂 I’m not even surprised she wanted a little spot of her own on the chair–or on your lap, I suppose.

    What Laura said is so true! I thrive (or try to, at least!) in embarrassing situations because I know it’ll become a fantastic story eventually.

  21. Anonymous says:

    Not giving up her seat:

    What I appreciated most about the story is that Robyn did not just break contact with the woman to defuse the situation. Taking a stand begins at home in our everyday situations. It’s important. Courage is hard but we can take baby steps even if we’re not as brave as Robyn.

    Dangerous – not in this case.

    Yes, it could have been dangerous, but that is where our intuition comes in. I like to think that Robyn’s radar is good and she got the go-ahead inside somewhere. Maybe in another situation she might act differently while keeping her seat. Maybe move to the next seat. (I can see the lady moving over seat by seat as Robyn moved!)

    Misplaced compassion.

    To those who make the argument that Robyn’s response was ridiculing the woman and compassion would have “helped” her I say this. Consider the great lengths this woman went to to control Robyn and her daughter and where they were seated – berating a complete stranger, going to the security guard, technically assaulting Robyn, using verbally abusive language. Any ridicule she received she can take. She could have softened up when Robyn “reciprocated” and leaned back, but she did not.

    Future congresswoman

    As far as being helped, the woman may think twice next time which is the best “help” she could get in this situation. People who behave badly depend on the good manners of others to get their way. Just as Robyn’s actions may make this lady reconsider an attack on the next person (who knows?), we have rights and standing up for them is the only way to keep them for everybody. (Can you see this control-freak in Congress?) Hurrah, Robyn!

  22. Anonymous says:

    Robyn, Thank you so much for the laugh today! I can’t wait to share it with my husband tonight!

  23. Anonymous says:

    LOVE IT!!!! Gotta try it sometime.

    My 3 year old kept asking why I was laughing *smile*.

    Thanks for a nice perk. Love the rest of your stuff too, btw.

  24. Anonymous says:

    I taught my son to handle a bully at his school by acting the opposite of how he felt. When the bully approached him on the playground my son broke out in song; singing happy birthday at the top of his lungs and drawing attention to himself!

    Other children chimmed in and one of the teachers, with that many people watching my son the bully backed off.

    My son learned that feeling don’t have to dictate our reactions.

    1. Robyn Openshaw says:

      Love this!!

  25. Anonymous says:

    Robyn, I’ve been reading the comments about your “Frowny story” and realizing that your Green Smoothie fans are a beautiful bunch of spirits, with a good intuition for the spirit of play just like you. I’t uplifting to know that the frownies of the world are not going to win with a gang like this around. Kim’s comment was beyond hilarious. Addie

    1. Robyn Openshaw says:

      Addie, I agree!!

  26. Anonymous says:


    What a great way to handle an ugly act. Way to go. Thanks for the inspiration.

  27. Anonymous says:

    That’s funny!

  28. Robyn,

    Thank your for writing your story! It seems as though it is not about nutrition. I think that essentially it is. My experience has been that since becoming vegetarian 2 years ago, I am not only more keen to what is going on with other people, but I am much more able to react to all kinds of situations in a way that benefits everyone involved. It is not that with this change I have a perfect life. I just want more harmony, health, light, love and light in my life. Doing things, like eating well, (there are others, of course) help bring it about for me and for the good of everyone I come into contact with. I dare say Robyn you are who you are and you live what you teach. Frowny brought an opportunity for you to share yourself with the world even more than before.

  29. Anonymous says:

    This is something I truly need to learn. Thank you for sharing! Hugs Ketena

  30. Anonymous says:

    It was fun to find your blog. We have lost an amazing amount of weight using chia. In fact everyone we know wanted to know how we did it so we started our own blog-www.chiachicks.com.

    Will continue checking in here for recipies etc.

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