Column by Russ Kent: The sounds of silence

We’re living in a strange, new world.

It’s eerie.

At night, when Beatrix and I go out, the night sky still looks the same. Venus, Orion, the Big Dipper … all are visible on clear nights. In the morning, recent sunrises have been spectacular.

But something is different.

The world is much quieter than it was a month ago.

I don’t hear as many trains, or air-brakes, or garbage trucks, or semis on Ohio 598.

I live near Heise Park, where the softball and baseball fields are vacant. There are no track meets, no kids playing at the YMCA or on the playgrounds. There are no students jogging and chatting as they run past my house.

At 4 p.m. there are no long waits in traffic on Portland Way. There are no kids walking and chatting as they go home through Heise Park.

There is little traffic in Historic Uptowne Galion, and few business owners meeting on sidewalks to discuss the weather.

We’re listening to the sounds of silence.

But I miss noise and commotion.

I miss the hustle and bustle of a normal day, the sounds of commerce, people laughing and enjoying the out of doors, or cheering on family, friends and teammates. I miss the chatter in grocery stores, and in restaurants at breakfast, lunch and dinner.

It’s too quiet.

The sounds of silence are the result of spending so much time at home.

I’ve done OK with the stay-at-home order. I’ve been to Meijer a couple of times, Drug Mart in Galion once, Big Lots in Mansfield once, and I recently made an essential run to Ollie’s Discount Outlet in Mansfield.

Three of those trips were the same day as I traveled the world looking for a phone battery, for one of those V-Tech landlines. The batteries are basically two AAA batteries wired to one another. My idea to build one myself was a failure.

So, in the spirit of not making any more fruitless trips, does anyone know where to find one of those battery packs?

I convinced myself my trip to Ollie’s was essential. My dad and I read a lot of books. He doesn’t drive anymore, so I’m his supplier. I find books in discount bins and stores from Columbus, to the outlet mall in Delaware to Mansfield. I read them and then give them to my dad. When we fill up our shelves and closets, we pass our used books along to others.

Dad was getting a weekly visit from one of the Galion Public Library angels with four or five new books on a regular basis. But with the library closed and my shopping trips limited to only the essentials, books weren’t a big priority.

Hence, my trip to Ollie’s. Dad was running short on books. Plus, I needed olive oil, red wine vinegar, paprika and some essentials for my truck. Ollie’s is a great place to get things on the cheap. Plus, the Harry and David brand of dark chocolate Moose Munch is always on sale. I found six hardbacks, none for more than $4.

Other than that I’ve visited my dad, my sister and attended one city council meeting.

On a Facebook Live show Monday, Galion Health Director Trish Factor poised a question: When you think of Ohio’s stat-at-home order, are you proud or embarrassed by how you’ve responded to it?

I thought I was doing pretty well. But now that I’ve listed the places I’ve been, I’m not so certain.

I will do better.

I also do pretty well with social distancing.

But I realize I can do better.

I’ve had one major faux pas. My white pitbull Beatrix has developed a fondness for a certain Galion mail lady. She spotted her favorite mail carrier last week, parked on the street in front of her house. Beatrix bolted from my front door and jumped right in the open door of the mail truck. Fortunately, the mail lady recognized her smile as she ran her way and was not frightened. She has encountered Beatrix before, and knew she only wanted to say hi, and to get a little loving.

Mission accomplished. But I had to pull Miss Beatrix from the truck. Sometimes she is too friendly.

Beatrix and I will do better at social distancing.

I also work from home. I’ve been doing it for more than a year and have developed a routine. I split my 8- to 10-hour workday into three shifts: approximately 6 to 11 a.m., 1 to 4 p.m. and then a couple hours each night. I try to shut down each night by 8 p.m.

I’m single. I have no kids and I don’t often go out at night. So that schedule works for me. And, I’m OK with being alone.

But even I’m getting bored these days.

Too many places are closed. So my getaway destinations are few and far between. I used to go to the driving range, or get a haircut, or see a movie. On occasion, I’ll head to Westside Market in Cleveland or Whole Foods Market or the North Market in Columbus. Once in a while, I’ll even take myself to a sit-down restaurant for a nice meal, usually at Polaris, after a movie.

All of those options have been silenced because of Covid-19.

The sounds of silence are getting on my nerves.

Social distancing word cloud on tablet – a set of nonpharmaceutical infection control actions to stop or slow down the spread of a contagious disease. Drawbacks. distancing word cloud on tablet – a set of nonpharmaceutical infection control actions to stop or slow down the spread of a contagious disease. Drawbacks.
Column by Russ Kent: The sounds of silence


Email Russ Kent at [email protected]