People – What are they thinking?

I try to understand how some people think.

The other day, I was up in Prescott, taking care of some business for Flying M Air. Since it had been three or more years since my last eye exam and my vision was starting to fail again, I made an appointment for an eye exam at the Sears Optical department. (I could go into a long story here about why I don’t get my eyes checked in Wickenburg, but I’ll keep it simple: inconvenient hours, bad service, and/or questionable business practices, depending on which eye care practitioner you visit.)

I arrived early, and while I was waiting, I did a little shopping in the mall. I needed a new purse. I’d been looking for a while, but finally found just the right one at Dillards. (Nothing like that feeling of success when you’re been trying hard to find something and finally hit paydirt.) Outside of Dillards was a kitchen store. I needed a box of those little gas canisters for my whip cream machine. I always forget to buy them when I’m in those stores because they keep them behind the counter. (Apparently, kids inhale the gas to get high, so they commonly steal them from the stores.) I don’t see them so I don’t remember to buy them. I remembered that day and I took care of it then.

The woman behind the counter noticed the Flying M Air logo on my shirt. “Do you fly helicopters?” she asked.

I admitted that I did.

“Do you want to hear a great story about a helicopter?”

“Sure.” I always like hearing great stories.

She then proceeded to tell me about her boss’s father, who had been killed in Buckeye in a gyroplane accident. She managed to mangle the information about the cause of the accident just enough to assure me that she had no idea what she was talking about. The story was not great — nothing good happened in it at all. The guy got himself killed because he apparently lost control of the aircraft. (Stupid pilot tricks.) And the story wasn’t even about helicopters.

I don’t recall how I reacted to the story. I must have said appropriately polite things. But in my mind, I was trying to figure out why she had told me the story at all. That’s what I was still thinking about when I left the store and went to my eye exam.

So why did she tell me the story? And why are some people so consumed by the misfortune of others? Why do people watch news stories that report bad things? What’s with people?

What do you think?