I could fill a book with stories of half-azzed operations who "adjusted" the rule book to suit the needs of the moment, but preached rules compliance to the letter.
Was working in GCOR territory one day, had a track warrant from A to F. Dispatcher contacted me and said they needed to change things, change "F" to "E". I objected that once the warrant was in effect you could not make changes and we needed to cancel that and issue a new one. The DS got irritated and insisted we do it the wrong way. I knew the territory and operation and against my better judgement did it as told, but raised enough stink they didn't try it again - with ME. I'm sure it still happens with others.
Another common example of ignoring the rules was where you would have a track warrant to a given town, and they would want you to spot a car at a given customer. "I can't" "Why can't you?" "Because my authority only extends to that first switch at the passing siding, and the customer is 15 carlengths farther up the main." "Aw, come on, it's straight as an arrow, the other train has not even left the next town anyway, ......" etc, etc.
Or they would put some screwy rule in the rulebook and then get mad when you obeyed it. They'd have a passenger train leaving the far end of a 20 mile branch, 10 mph territory. They'd want me to go 5 miles out of town, with proper track authority, because they had not given the excursion train rights that far. Nope - can't do it. Why not, they would demand. Because you have a rule in the book which says if there is a passenger train on a given branch there can be no other movements on that branch. "Oh, well, look, I'll give you a form and you're covered". I said that form must specifically state "Rule XX of the ____Railroad Operating Rules is not in effect for this movement" or I'm not going. I'd get a reputation as an azzole who was not a team player and was trying to be a difficult know-it-all. Yet come rules class time, and the guy holding the class would thump and holler about that book being life-or-death and the rules were to be followed.
It's not just short lines by the way. On a Class I I once summoned a Trainmaster because an over-the-road crew came into town and the conductor was totally out of it. Pikced up a telephone in the office and thought it was a radio, yarded the train on the wrong track, all sorts of stuff. The TM came out, talked to the crew, but didn't want to rock the boat. He gave me a syrupy pat on the back, said sometimes things are not exactly as they seem, good job in calling him but there was no cause for action, etc. RIIIIGHT!