Question: I keep getting random orders out of the blue, from strangers who seem to think I work only for them. WTF?
Congratulations! You are at the bottom of the food chain. It’s symptomatic of a workplace where everyone’s top priority is shoveling tasks onto other people’s desks as fast as they can, because they’re already drowning in work.
It indicates where you are in the pecking order, as work is generally dumped downwards rather than up or across. I used to bridle at these insults, but a better way is to bury the request or make it simply disappear.
For example, find someone of lower or equal rank who works in another location and dump it onto their desk. If you want to dump upwards, find a gatekeeper like Legal or Compliance, and punt it to their general mailbox with a note saying “This is really Legal’s call”.
You can also ignore the request until it decomposes on your desk, and if your real manager ever comes around and comments on the smell, just show them the original request and say “I just didn’t know what to do with this…”
Note that nowhere do I ever advise you to talk directly to the requestor and try to actually solve their problem.
If you are at Corporate, you have additional leverage due to your company’s size, no matter how low your rank within it. Dump it on a stranger at a company that your company has just acquired. You can also dump it on vendors with the attitude of “We are your biggest customer and you must jump through every hoop to keep our business.”