One Gaffe at a Time – Step 4

Step 4: Made a directive that all minions turn their will and lives over to management care. 

My sponsor, Donald D., is pleased with my 12+1 Step progress and was particularly delighted with the reversal of character and wordy transformations pondered during Step 3 of my recovery. Unfortunately, Step 4 may be a tougher challenge, especially considering Step 4 may require competent minions to turn their will and lives over to incompetent managers.

The Peter Principle states that all employees in a hierarchy tend to rise to their level of incompetence. Hence, the higher up the corporate ladder you look, the more likely to find incompetent managers. I refer to this as Ladder Fatigue: the further up an organisational ladder a competent employee climbs, multiplied by the length of time in the senior position, the less likely the individual will remain competent. Although a functional addict can still be a competent worker, the concept of a “functional incompetent” is an oxymoron. Would it be oxymoronic to expect a competent minion to turn their will and life over to an incompetent supervisor?

Step 4 inspired Dr. StrangeJob’s theory of osmosis-moronus—the process of becoming a moron through assimilation. Osmosis-moronus has proven a key factor in the proliferation of incompetent bureaucracies. The adage that one rotten apple can ruin the whole bushel is scientifically proven. Speaking of oxymora, it is my unbiased opinion that the common abnormality with the systematic chaos involving civil servants has brought me to the partial conclusion that I am absolutely unsure how we got into this fine mess. But it does explain absent minded career politicians that are clearly confused and deafeningly silent when discussing corporate ethics. Need I say more?

For every yin there is a yang, and for every incompetent manager, there is a competent employee just waiting to be found. Competence, although rare, can have a positive effect on an incompetent environment, a process the Doctor refers to as reverse-osmosis-moronus. Fortunately, working the Steps of IA may thwart osmosis-moronus as you search for the ultimate higher power of true competence. Step 4 provides hope and a mission to expel incompetence, to seek out the competent, and to boldly go where senior managers have rarely gone before. Join the search for the Competence of your understanding, but be forewarned, we are never truly cured of incompetence. What we have is a daily reprieve, contingent on the maintenance of our competent condition.

Step 4 may sound a bit preachy, but then again, I should never generalise. It may be my least favourite step but it is not a real phony. It is a sure bet or definite maybe that it could be a deliberate mistake or planned serendipity that this bittersweet post makes an honest liar of me. Or maybe I am just being oxy-moronic.  

Future columns will discuss my continued journey through the IA recovery process. Until then, feel free to view the inaugural IA meeting, learn about Incompetents Anonymous, read the Audacity Prayer and 12+1 Steps, or become familiar with IA’s additional support groups.

Dr. StrangeJob

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One Gaffe at a Time – Step 3

Step 3: Made a directive that all minions turn their will and lives over to management care. 

Full disclosure: I might have gotten this one backwards.

In our previous discussion on Step 2, we peered up the corporate ladder and unwittingly came to believe that senior management, thinking greater of themselves, could restore the hierarchy to complacency. In Step 3, our focus remains on senior management, but this time we discuss how that group view those working below them on the corporate ladder.

The Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) Step 3 reads: Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood him. Unlike AA, the Incompetents Anonymous (IA) version of Step 3 is not about finding God, but rather about finding yourself working for someone with a God Complex. I have had my share of decent bosses, but I have also worked for a few assholes. You know the kind, the autocratic and controlling type of boss that demands blind allegiance from staff. You are not considered a colleague, partner, or co-worker. You are merely an underling to be exploited, used, or abused.

Similar to AA, an IA member may pray to God, but they are likely praying to God for their God Complex boss to stop preying on them. In fact, the IA understanding of a God Complex boss is a boss that has a backwards view of their own managerial worth. It is no coincidence that God spelled backwards is dog. That is why a boss with a God Complex is always barking up the wrong tree.

If God is a semordnilap (a word that spells another word in reverse or palindromes spelled backwards), then there may be other clues to suggest that a boss with a God Complex sees things from the wrong perspective. Your boss, for example, may think he is a star, but perhaps they are all rats in disguise. They treat minions like pupils and are just waiting for them to slipup. Some bosses say they just want to be our pals, but they are actually trying to slap us down. You just want to live, and they just want to be evil. You say that you lived for God, but perhaps you are just working for the devil dog.

OK, I give up on this one. I was hoping to deliver a positive step but now fear that I will be reviled instead.

So, if you are working for someone with a God Complex, then all I can offer you is sympathy and a piece of advice. You may be tired of getting crapped on, but as the old saying goes—if it is on the wheel then it will eventually come around. Instead of getting stressed, let’s just hope those bosses get their just desserts. Smile, be patient, and remember that diaper is repaid spelled backwards. Incidentally, Step 3 is where the idea for the  DIAPER Awards 2017 came from.

Future columns will discuss my journey through the IA recovery process. Until then, feel free to view the inaugural IA meeting, learn about Incompetents Anonymous, read the Audacity Prayer and 12+1 Steps, or become familiar with IA’s additional support groups.

Dr. StrangeJob

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Dr. StrangeJob enters the terrible twos

Happy Birthday to me! Dr. StrangeJob forced himself on the world on February 27, 2015, with the following simple, but pathetic prophetic tweet: This is what happens when the Peter Principle collides with Kurt Vonnegut and Stanley Kubrick. It’s birthday number two, and a chance to review last year and take a glimpse forward to next.

Although I survived my first-year birthday celebrations, this last year was a bit of a hit and miss. My Anonymous Goes to the Legion video was a Facebook success, accumulating 17.3 thousand views, but managed a measly 480 views on YouTube.  Although the Doctor is slowly building a Facebook presence with over 31 thousand likes, he has only 69 followers on Twitter. Hurray for Facebook, not so much for Twitter or YouTube. Perhaps I shouldn’t’ have called Twitter followers Twittlers or YouTube users YukTubbies.

My attempt at stand-up was simultaneously well documented and rarely viewed on the Dr. StrangeJob YouTube channel. Although presented with a Like Award for opines on workplace culture, corporate accountability, and municipal politics from, I was subsequently censored by that site for using the term bullshit in one of my posts. Not to be daunted, Dr. StrangeJob started writing a satirical political column for the Cape Breton Spectator, until I lost my political chops when blocked from running in the local municipal election.

Maybe next year will be better, or will it become a case of the terrible twos?  If I learned anything from year one, it is that failure is always an option. Now that I know what doesn’t work, I will search out new venues in which to mess up even further. As my Father would say, “If you’re being thrown out of town, then get in front and make it look like a parade in your honour.”  With that in mind, watch for the Doctor’s new mini-panel webcomic, Annals of IA, which will chronicle the trials and tribulations of a local chapter of Incompetents Anonymous. Also, coming very soon is the first in a series of short stories that follow the antics of the Cape Breton Liberation Army – Intelligence and Competence Squad (CBLA-InCompts). The first chapter of CBLA-InCompts is going to raise a bit of a stink.

Dr. StrangeJob

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Genesis 95: Don’t Tie Me Down

No, this post is not a continuation of my popular Censored Part I and Censored Part II series. Nor is it a reference to the S&M party I was recently invited to (see next week’s “Tie Me Down” for details on that one). This post is about employee morale and the effect of corporate downsizing on employee morale.

I was working at the central office of a crown corporation when headquarters announced a major downsizing and imminent closure of the office within two years. To ease the transition, corporate also announced a voluntary buyout package and agreed to provide a three-month termination notice to those directly affected.

Employees to be terminated were called to HR on the last Friday of each month to receive their layoff notice. If you didn’t receive a meeting request from HR on the last Friday of the month, then you were safe for another month. Needless to say, morale at the office was low, nerves were frayed, and tempers were short. Employees dealt with the stress in various ways. I stopped wearing a tie.

The departmental dress code was built on the traditional business model. Men were expected to wear ties as a form of respect for their colleagues and clients. I was not feeling particularly respectful with the current corporate downsizing process and stopped wearing a tie to show my disapproval. My supervisor took offence to my tireless tie-less attire and constantly chided me for my lack of office etiquette. My insubordination was eventually challenged one day as I left for lunch. I was told to return to work wearing a tie or expect consequences.

I spent lunch at the local mall looking for a tie. I purchased a battery-operated bowtie with a set of blinking lights from a novelty store.

bow tie blinking

I soon found myself is my supervisor’s office discussing my new tie.

Supervisor: What is that you are wearing?

Me: It’s a tie. You instructed me not to return unless I had a tie, so here it is.

Supervisor: That is a joke tie, and wearing it is disrespectful.

Me: No, I am just following your direction. You told me to come back to work wearing a tie, and that is what I am doing.

Supervisor: That is not an appropriate tie.

Me: Oh, so you do not like this particular tie?

Supervisor: You cannot wear a tie like that in this office.

Me: Not a problem, I will take it off as long as you tell me it is OK not to wear a tie.

Supervisor: You still need to wear a tie, just not one like that.

Me: I am confused. A tie is a tie. You have the authority to instruct me to wear a tie, but you do not have the right to tell me the style of tie that I wear.

Supervisor: Take off that tie and get back to work.

I went back to work and never wore a tie to that office again. In retrospect, I realise that my supervisor was just doing his job and that I was a being a bit of a dick. That said, it’s hard to “stay low and keep moving” unless you untie yourself from the corporate noose.

Dr. StrangeJob

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Who is Dr. StrangeJob and how will he save Cape Breton?

To begin: I am not, nor have I ever claimed to be, anyone other than the person I am currently pretending to be.

So who is Dr. StrangeJob, and what is his elaborate plan to save the Cape Breton economy?

First and foremost, Dr. StrangeJob is not a liar, but he does admit to being prone to excessive recklessness with the truth. That said, he considers himself to be a noble man, one with countless years of dedicated service in various world peace initiatives. In his youthful years, he was considered by many to be quite the prize, and to this day, he still fancies himself a winner. In other words, Dr. StrangeJob is Cape Breton’s first and foremost Noble Peace Prize Winner.

There are many exploits that could be shared about the good Doctor, but paramount to his current plan to save the Cape Breton economy is in recognizing his visionary approach that ultimately spawned Incompetents Anonymous – the World’s first 12+1 Step self-help program.

So, just how does Dr. StrangeJob plan to save the Cape Breton Economy? In two words – Akron Ohio

Yes, that Akron, Ohio, otherwise known as the birthplace of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) That’s right, what Dr. Bob S. did for Akron, Dr. Dan S. plans to do for Cape Breton. Do you have any idea how many tourists travel yearly to Akron to attend meetings, view historical landmarks, by trinkets, rent lodgings, and eat at local restaurants? Just imagine, the busloads (heck, maybe container loads) of new tourists spending all of their money just to visit the birthplace of Incompetents Anonymous.

Sure, the idea may seem pie in the sky, but the Doctor has a plan. In fact, he has a 12+1 Step plan, and he has already invested a considerable amount of his personal time and money into the development of a world class marketing and membership drive. He does realize, however, that we must take the process one step at a time, and that the first step is the most vital.

That is why, and upon immediate press release, the Doctor will work with all key CBRM stakeholders, the various levels of government, and local educational institutions in support of the development and creation of the Cape Breton Centre of Incompetents. Just imagine the marketing slogans for that one!

This is what we do best. Just look at the abundance of natural resources we have in politics alone.

Visit Cape Breton for the beauty, stay for the incompetence.

So ends Part I of the continuing saga of Dr. StrangeJob – Savior of CBRM

Dr. StrangeJob

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