Lawson writes . . . sharing thoughts and memories

August 11, 2010

The Hot Seat

Filed under: Uncategorized — lawsonjolly @ 5:00 am

Hot seat is a slang term for the electric chair!  It is also the term used for the contestant’s chair on the game show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.  The term  is usually an expression for a high pressure situation where scrutiny is focused on the person.

Most people have been on the hot seat in some situation at some time.  I know I have —  in many ways.  But the most unusual way was sitting on the floor!  I mean sitting on the floor that was hot!

For centuries in Korea underfloor heating has been used.  It became more sophisticated through the years, but it is still used.  And in the rural areas of Korea, heated floors are still a reflection of past years.  In those areas, heat is transferred from wood smoke, or rice paddy straws, to the underside of the floor in the home.  The fire will be burning outside or in the kitchen and the heat travels through terracotta pipes that are beneath the flooring.  There is an irregular distribution of the heat as the pipes are snaked at various angles beneath the floor.

Visiting various homes in these areas, I would remove my shoes as is the custom.  I would be invited into the room where I was expected to sit on the floor.  The host would graciously, with an open hand, point to the floor as if directing me to a certain chair.  He was suggesting that I would be more comfortable in that certain spot.  That spot was one of the warmer areas in the room.

The heat from the floor was never even.  There would be some cool spots and some hot spots!  Out of kindness, the host was inviting me to sit on the hot spot!  I want you to know it truly became a hot seat!  I would often begin to squirm a little to move to the left or right to get off that extremely hot spot!  The extreme cold on the outside of the home motivated me to sit on those hot spots at first, but quickly I was warmed. The hot spot was truly the hot seat because I would be scrutinized by my demeanor and appreciation of the kindness.

Never once did I sit on a cold spot — at first.  But after a few minutes in a home, I was trying to slide here and there to find a cold spot.  I assure you that sitting on the hot seat will get very, very hot in a few minutes!  I would always take the suggested seat, however.  I understood that the suggested place for me to sit was an expression of respect, and to sit somewhere else would be rude.  Besides, you don’t know the temperature of the floor until you sit down — and remain in that spot for a few minutes!

I never spent the night in one of these homes, but I know you would have to find just the right spot on the floor or the body would get confused between part of it being hot and part of it cold.  I also understood why most of the family, especially the men, wore large loose pants.  The pants provided sufficient room to bend the knees and sit for a long period of time.  I also thought if I had those large pants, I could move to the left or right easier without it looking like I was trying to get off the hot seat!

There are some times in our lives we can never forget.  The hot seat in Korea is one for me!

Lawson

Related blogs:  Never to Old, www.lawsonjolly.com/2010/01/29; The Price of Value, www.lawsonjolly.com/2010/02/20; My Time in Jail . . . and Prison, www.lawsonjolly.com/2010/04/01; Inchon, www.lawsonjolly.com/2010/05/29.

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