Rule #1: Do not attempt this unless you are a professional. Just as objects in the mirror are closer than they appear, objects on a map are a lot farther. On a map, a coast-to-coast trip looks like it might take about ten minutes, but you must understand that one inch equals thousands of miles. Or something like that.
Rule #2: Do not fly there and back if there are five flights involved.
The nice lady at the check in counter will tell you that you are way too early and on the wrong coast because your flight isn’t until that evening and you are actually leaving from California and not DC. When you explain to her that that is your return flight and that you are about to enjoy five flights in approximately the same amount of time that it takes your Now Husband to take one nap, the check in counter lady will give you one boarding pass and tell you to go away.
Rule #3: Do not get your arm stuck in an airport vending machine
(We are referring to one of those vending machines that use dollar bills and you have to turn George’s head in exactly the right way and then hope the machine doesn’t spit him out. And then you have to push buttons and your bag of little vanilla sandwich cookies drops down and you have to push into that big flappy cover thing at the bottom to get the bag.)
The rule is to push the flappy thing open with one hand and retrieve your bag of little vanilla sandwich cookies with the other. DO NOT use only one arm to grab the bag, because the flappy thing will come down and squish your arm and it will be hell extricating your arm from the jaws of death. Then, after you have managed to retrieve your arm and have ascertained, to the best of your ability, that it is still attached to your body, as you are eating the little vanilla sandwich cookies your arm will be swelling up and turning several exotic shades of aubergine. And then, when you go through Security, the TSA people will stare at you really hard. But then you will find out that it is because you are eating little cookies as you go through Security, and not because of what your forearm looks like.
Rule #4: Do not sit next to someone who weighs approximately the same as the plane.
If you do have to sit next to someone like this, be aware that your armrest will disappear, along with most of your seat.
Rule #5: Do not make reservations on a flight that gets delayed for four hours, then gets cancelled, especially if it is flight #5 and you have worn heels the entire time and your feet are now the same color and size as your right forearm.
And don’t let the flight you ultimately get on be a very small plane with a Congresswoman and a bunch of other people who all look extremely important, squeaky clean, and so happy that they care a lot about stupid things like the economy and world peace while you sit there being pissed off that your right forearm looks like Popeye and you have eaten enough snack food in the last 24 hours to weigh as much as the next plane you get onto.
And, when all is said and done, know that if you have another opportunity to speak to a great group of women who live thousands of miles away, you will probably do the same thing. But next time, you will buy all your snacks from a live person.