Jon has a great description of the "smoker," something so bone-chilling both PGOAT and I haven't quite been able to find the words to describe it. But beyond the general horror of milling around a loud, badly lit corporate hotel ballroom, trying to make small-talk with a bunch of social retards you want to hire you--besides all that, Jon describes a generational aspect to it I was lucky enough to miss out on at last year's smoker.
During the heydey of the post World War II great academic job market, these smokers were quite different. For one thing, people actually smoked. For another thing, the Baby Boomers actually smoked pot at the smoker. Unless you are a Generation X job candidate who has been stuck at a table with a drunk Baby Boomer during one of these things, and he (it's always a he!) is telling you how great it was "back in the day" when everybody had over ten interviews and there was a "dance circle" of pot smokers in the middle of the room. . . unless you've been through this, you maybe don't even know the meaning of the word "rage". . . .
I speculate that this is one of the main reasons Generation X academics are often so unrelentingly hostile (when talking with one another) about Baby Boomer academics. Baby Boomer academics had a much easier time getting jobs and tenure. Somehow on their watch we not only got Reagan, the two Bushes, and abandonment of cool plans to colonize space, but we also got a university system where now less than half the positions are tenure or tenure-track. And they don't care.
That sounds about right to me. Although my own rage-inducing experiences with this sort of dynamic have involved pre-Boomer philosophers more than Boomers, there's no doubt the earliest Boomers had a pretty easy time on the job market. And that's just not something I want to hear about when all my energy's going into not puking with anxiety into the over-priced, shitty beer I was forced to buy, just to make myself look like the kind of genial junior colleague some asshat Boomer would like to have in the office down the hall.