Russ Kent: A refreshing open-door policy

It’s been nearly three weeks since I’ve written a column.

A few have noticed. But to be honest, my ego was hoping more people would have complained.

I’ve had plenty to say.

I always have lots to say.

I just found it difficult finding time to write about the things I wanted to say.

So here’s what was on my mind Thursday afternoon.

Actually, this one popped into my head Thursday morning.

I enjoy fresh air.

I love fresh air.

I am typically the first one in the Galion Inquirer office each morning. And because I like fresh air, if the weather is anything close to being pleasant, the door to my office is typically open. That way, I can enjoy the sights and sounds and scents of the out-of-doors in the early morning.

I worked for a newspaper in a neighboring community for about 17 years. At the time, the newsroom was on the second floor. And all but one or two windows on that entire floor were screwed or bolted shut. I think it was because of the aging boiler system in the building, and shutting the windows gave the maintenance folks and bill-payers a little control of that monstrosity.

We joked that the windows were shut to keep us from jumping out of them on busy days.

Which is true?

Ask my former co-workers. But I never really considered — well, too seriously, really — jumping out that second-floor window.

Anyway, for 17 years, I walked up two flights of steps to get my desk, that faced away from a window, and down two steps to the fresh air. Unless it was close to zero outside, which is when the fresh air returns at that old building were opened.

So today, every chance I get, I open that door to what I call my private office. Rain or shine … it doesn’t really matter. As long as it is about 60 — OK, 50 degrees — and I’m the only one here. my door is open.

I’ve heard my share of odd conversations through that open door. There are a lot of squabbles going on between 7:30-9 a.m. I only hear part of the argument, because the other half is on the other end of the cellphone being used.

The smell of tobacco often wafts through the door. Its smells of cigarettes, cigars, a pipe now and then … and occassionally something that I’m certain is illegal in this state, unless a doctor orders it.

But there also is the smell of fresh cut grass from the park across the street.

There is a coffee shop next door, and even though I do not enjoy the taste of coffee, I love the smell of it.

There are a few restaurants in the neighborhood, and the scents and smells of food frying — especially bacon — or bread baking or something roasting or being grilled never gets old. And when 1803 Taproom brings in one of their food trucks, well that’s a aroma that is hard to get upset with, too.

But there also is a downside to my open-door policy.

The smell of car exhaust — especially if there is not a breeze in the morning — can be a bit overwhelming.

The “thump, thump, thump” of a way-too-loud sound system in vehicle on Harding Way West can almost shake my can of Diet Mountain Dew off my desk as it drives by, rattling the windows.

A lot of people use Harding Way as an ash tray, too.

Last week, during a rain deluge on the afternoon of the city’s first Third Friday in Galion event, I stood outside my private door, under the overhead canopy and watched as hundreds of cigarette butts washed by toward the storm sewers.

It was, in a word, disgusting. Is there not a law in Galion outlawing cigarette butts?

I’ve lived in and around Galion for much of my life. And I was surprised at the amount of traffic that comes through this community each morning. It’s loud and it’s sometimes un-muffled.

Still, better a lot of traffic than none at all.

A little congestion is a sign of economic progress. I lot of congestion, is a big, fat nuisance.

Another downside is delivery trucks. Any and all. Most of them are left running during a delivery and all of them seem to park right outside my open door. And sometimes trucks beep, and not just when they are backing up. There are days when I delivery truck is parked someone in my block and they beep, beep, beeping for what seems like hours, but is actually maybe 15 minutes or so.

That actually may be the most irritating part of my open-door policy.

I don’t even mind the odd walker or salesman or sight-seer that occasionally walks through my private door. If I was still married, I’m sure I would have purchased a trinket or two from a man a couple weeks ago, who stuck his head in the door to say hi, and tryto sell me something.

I even caught a dog sniffing around at the door one day last summer. It may have smelled by breakfast burrito. But it left as soon as I turned around and saw it’s little nose in the door.

Anyway, it’s amost 5 p.m.. My door has been open all day, and that usually puts me in a good mood.

Fresh air is relaxing and it fortifies the soul..

There is almost nothing that beats fresh air, even in Historic Uptowne Galion.

The exception, when I’m enjoying my fresh air from a beach chair, with an ocean just a few feet a way, a good book and my sunglasses on. That fresh is filled with the scent of salt-water and sand and coconut suntan lotion.

Now that is refreshing.


Russ Kent

Galion Inquirer



Russ Kent is editor of the Galion Inquirer. Email him at [email protected] with comments of story ideas.