View out of a car window showing side mirror with raindrops on it in a green tinted sky

Tornadoes, bug bites, and what I am grateful for.

After Texas, it was time to head further East. The sweet tea became more and more abundant and the southern accents more and more difficult for fellow European co-workers to understand. I was joined by my Swedish co-worker Kent for the first leg of the tour. Goose bit him a few times for stealing her seat, but deep down I know we both enjoyed the company. The demo tour has been nothing but go, go, go these past few weeks. The printer is heated up before dawn and its rumble, when I park right next to it, acts as my alarm clock. Breakfast is a quick scarf it down feat and then it is off to show our product. When we aren’t printing symbols for you, we are driving long hours or enjoying one steak dinner (sides and salads for the vegetarian girl) after the next. Ten to twelve hours later and most of us have nothing but perhaps a round of IDIOT, my favorite card game, left in us for energy. I settle into my van and crank the Maxx air fans for max comfort. Next day, repeat. Being on this tour gives little to no time to relax, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. And despite the lack of time for weekend level adventures, we’ve still managed to make some deep south memories. From the tornado that chased us at 75 mph, to mystery bug bites that led me to urgent care, I have managed to walk a fine line of adventure, never dipping my toes into disaster. And for that, I am grateful.

View out of a car window showing side mirror with raindrops on it in a green tinted sky

Something lurks in the southern grass

After a long day of demos, we finally rolled into our home for the night. For me, the parking lot. For everyone else, pressed sheet, shower to call their own, hotel heaven. We all dispersed upon arrival. Some running to their rooms for alone time, and others (me) running full speed to the complimentary laundry services to wash the work shirt that had enjoyed one too many wears. Ahh, sweet relief, the ding, ding, ding start of the washer, the sound of it filling with soapy water just to reward me with clean clothes shortly thereafter. After starting my laundry, I walked out into the *concrete* courtyard to call a friend. Having heard horror stories of fire ant encounters in the grass, I avoided those green tufts just like I would the plague. To no avail, because suddenly my limbs flailed in panic as something surely took a chomp at my left leg. Two bites. Well three, as I hypothetically bit my tongue so as to downplay the pain I had just experienced. And not alert my phoned in friend to the embarrassing amount of pain I felt. At dinner, I was eager to share what had happened. Carrying this experience like an induction to some sort of fire ant hall of fame. A badge of honor. And for the first few days, it felt like I paid little for this experience. No pain, minimal itching. I was living the “recently bit by fire ants” dream. Or so I thought. On day three, I started to notice a welt forming. Hot to the touch, lower leg swelling, red ring around the bite. Time to call my mom. Who encouraged me to go into urgent care. Which I did not do until the next day when all of my symptoms worsened. And it hurt to put any sort of pressure on my left leg, i.e. it hurt to walk. In I went, to receive my “I visited the South” prize. Two rounds of antibiotics and some compelling content for my blog.

Kent’s first tornado

The morning after the courtyard encounter, we were off for an early demo. The weather apps alerted us of less-than-ideal conditions, but we ventured on, eager to cross more people off the list of those we have impressed with the Trafficprinter. As we began driving, I excitedly explained the green tint of the sky to Kent. I love thunderstorms and especially ones that teeter-totter on tornado weather. Something about it excites me. An adrenaline rush for me, I recognize that my love of this type of storm would be instantly crushed by true tornado devastation. Green tinted sky, wind howling and then calm again, on and off rain, we were really getting a show. I drove as Kent watched the radar, both of us acting like storm chasers. Using storm chaser verbiage and laughing together in awe of what the sky was doing before our eyes. That is until Kent was alerted that a tornado was headed East at 75 mph from Atchafalaya Park. I had seen signs for this park about five miles back. And just like that, we became storm runners. I picked up my 65 mph pace, heartbeat increasing alongside the speed of the van. Kent, in a panicked state, requested that we stop at a gas station. And while I was in the bathroom, the worst part of the storm hit. When I came out, Kent had a huge grin on his face. The doors had rattled, rain had hammered down, and wind had blown so hard he couldn’t see five feet out the glass doors of the Love’s truck stop. I was devastated to have missed the grand finale. But we were lucky to not have been driving. When we continued, the storm had left us a calm and peaceful path to reach our destination. Quiet and eerie and beautiful, we took it all in. And at the end of that night, after completing our demos, we arrived back to our hotel to find out that the tornado had touched down in and caused a lot of damage in a town just across the lake from our hotel. I went to sleep grateful.

Image of a Love's truckstop with a green tinted sky and cars scattered in a parking lot

When things go South, practice gratitude.

When things go South, literally, I tend to think about how much worse it could be. Even in moments where it feels like everything is crumbling, it helps to think about what is good. To focus on how lucky you are to be alive and well. On the weekdays when I am not sporting a reflective vest and big yellow headphones, I am cozied up in my van with Goose. Thinking and reflecting. On how good this experience has been for us. How I got to take Goose to the ocean this week and I get to visit friends all over the country on the weekends. I am gathering stories to tell my grandchildren. Living simple and small, allowing me to deeply connect with myself. This experience has reminded me of how little we need to be happy. And how much we can gain from practicing gratitude. It can be easy to focus on the negative. Like driving through a tornado and having to spend $80 because you became some bugs dinner. And it can be more difficult to laugh and accept and let the good things drown out the bad, but it is worth the effort. A mind that jumps to gratitude will get you places. Trust me. Really good places.

If you are interested in having us pay you a visit, please reach out to me at or sign up for the Demo Tour.

Speak soon,

Marilyn Saulsbury

Head of Sales and Business Development, Trysil RMM Inc.