It’s funny how in a lot of conversations people ask questions that are seemingly irrelevant. The obvious one that springs to mind is that when discussing a music festival the default first question seems to be “where is it?”. Now unless the person asking is about to travel to the festival in question, the answer is neither interesting or useful, and is sort of a conversational dead end. Even if the person who brought it up did so because they’ve recently been to said festival, the chances are quite high that they either won’t know anyway, or won’t be able to remember in any more detail than “in a field less than 3 hours drive away”, partly because unless the local scenery is particularly beautiful a music festival’s location is probably the least interesting thing about it.
This subject came to mind because I was in my local Chinese/Chippy and the guy in front of me in the queue was asking at the counter if they served anything that was vegan, which was a difficult conversation for both of them, and seemed to have left them both confused. Anyway I asked the guy if he knew that there was a vegan chippy nearby. He said he didn’t and asked me where it was (which in this case was useful and relevant) and thanked me for the information. Then he confused me by asking “how did you find out about it?” which I wasn’t really sure why he wanted to know. I told him I wasn’t sure and mentioned I have some friends who are vegan. Afterwards I realised that the answer was probably actually “by driving past it at least once a week” which I’m not sure would have been useful information to him.
Another example that’s become gradually less common over the years but is still observed among the older generation is when answering the phone to someone who’s calling from a mobile is to ask them as the default first question “where are you?”, which although in some cases is useful information, the answer is generally neither interesting or useful.