One thing I wasn't ready for last year was how totally confused non-academics can be about the job market. One night I was out with some people who work with the Future Dr. Mrs. Dr. PGS's sister, and I ended up talking a lot with this guy who'd been a philosophy major in college. He seemed to like me, and the more he thought about it, the more convinced he got that I should swing by his old department and "drop off a resume." He really liked this idea, and he got pretty animated about it.
That kind of confusion can be funny or it can piss me off, depending on my head space. But something more subtle made me grind my teeth more than any yuppie dumb-ass telling me he'd "put in a good word" for me with his old professors. All kinds of people--friends, family, random people--asked me what my top choices for jobs were. Sometimes they wouldn't use exactly those words--"What are you hoping for?" "If you got to choose, where would you go?"--but that's what they were asking. You can tell that's what they're asking because when you answer by saying you're hoping for any job and, no, you don't get to choose, they don't think you've answered their question. They think you're being evasive and obtuse and weird. Or worse, they think you're just being a dick.
But what they don't get is, I wasn't being evasive or obtuse or weird. What's the point of having preferences when getting even a single job is a long shot? I don't want to consider the inevitable counterfactual, "Yeah, but if you got to choose. . .?" What's thinking about that going to get me? An extra crowbar of disappointment laid into my ribs when I get rejected? That's exactly what I'm trying to avoid. But how do you explain that to someone when they're just trying to make small-talk?