The Importance of Everyone

When you walk into a hotel room and turn on the TV, what is playing? NCIS. And why is NCIS important? Well the rules are helpful (see below), of course (of course!) not as helpful as the diva edicts, but not shabby as words of wisdom go.

But the real benefit of NCIS is that it teaches you by example that the least important person is key. One has the same insight in dear Agatha Christie’s books, but the stories are so lovely, one might miss this essential decree. In NCIS it is obviously, screamingly taught every episode.

There’s always a ghastly something, then le team arrives, then there is various posturing and pontificating, then (sigh) like the first cuckoo of spring, an unimportant person appears: the pizza delivery person who was just delivering a pizza, the helpful bystander, the neighbor who saw something, the landlord, the barista at the café from which there was a crushed receipt in the pocket of the victim.

The person’s one tidbit of knowledge is extracted, then the person is ignored – but oh how very wrong this is as the person is in fact the malefactor or the victim’s sister or the malefactor’s mother or the well, you get the point. Key. Essential. Vital. and Overlooked.

Now, my dear, we will apply this rule to our lives as it speaks to the very heart and soul of modern life. So often, we concentrate on the indispensable people (aunts of course come first in this category, but it includes best friends, bosses, spouses and children) that you forget those who make up the web of your life. The water crackers that allow you to wolf down the brie, aged cheddar, Gruyere, and hot artichoke dip.

In suburbia it could be the mail delivery person, or (big city) your doorman, the person at the tiny grocery store, the librarian, the main playing the pickle drum at the corner near work. Of course baristas but, darling, think of the people whose name you don’t know – the half smile people who are there like wallpaper: the clerk at the dry cleaners or the wine store, the cashier at the Mexican place or the bike shop, the man at the flower store which you pass (but never stop to buy flowers from and you really ought to stop and buy flowers, one of the true joys of life is a bouquet of fresh flowers). This, of course, leads us to a simply wonderful metaphor: indispensable people are like roses and a bouquet of roses is quite lovely, but one needs a bit of greenery, yes? Something as background, backdrop; something to set the milieu. Not the star attraction but the back-up singers, the important unimportant people.

And think of them not simply at Christmas (if you ever ask yourself, should I tip? The answer is yes) but all the days as you go along. Greet them, watch out for them, appreciate them and, yes, they might turn out to be a malefactor, but they might turn out to be charming (not as charming as dearest auntie, but then so very few people are as charming as dearest auntie).

Look around you and value your network of acquaintances. And remember that sometimes you’re wrong (but cherished auntie never is).


The Rules – from

Number Rule Referenced in
1(1) Never let suspects stay together. Yankee White” (Season 1);
Ships in the Night” (Season 8)
1(2) Never screw over your partner. Blowback” (Season 4);
Need to Know” (Season 9)
2 Always wear gloves at a crime scene. Yankee White” (Season 1)
3(1) Don’t believe what you’re told. Double check. Yankee White” (Season 1)
3(2) Never be unreachable. Deception” (Season 3), “Rule Fifty-One” (Season 7)
4 The best way to keep a secret? Keep it to yourself. Second best? Tell one other person – if you must. There is no third best. Blowback” (Season 4)
5 You don’t waste good. Baltimore ” (Season 8)
6 Never say you’re sorry. It’s a sign of weakness. Flesh and Blood” (Season 8)
7 Always be specific when you lie. Reveille” (Season 1)
8 Never take anything for granted. Probie” (Season 3)
9 Never go anywhere without a knife. One Shot, One Kill” (Season 1)
10 Never get personally involved in a case. Obsession” (Season 7);
She” (Season 16)
11 When the job is done, walk away. Semper Fidelis” (Season 6)
12 Never date a co-worker. Enigma” (Season 1);
Jet Lag” (Season 7)
13 Never, ever involve lawyers. Collateral Damage” (Season 6);
Rule Fifty-One” (Season 7)
14 Bend the line, don’t break it. Anonymous was a Woman (Season 11)
15 Always work as a team. Leap of Faith (Season 5)
16 If someone thinks they have the upper hand, break it. Pyramid (Season 8)
17 Never, ever interrupt Gibbs during an interrogation. Privileged Information (Season 14)
18 It’s better to seek forgiveness than ask permission. Silver War (Season 3)
20 Always look under. The Artful Dodger (Season 12)
22 Never ever bother Gibbs in interrogation. Smoked (Season 4)
23 Never mess with a Marine’s coffee… if you want to live. Forced Entry (Season 2)
27 There are two ways to follow someone. First way, they never notice you. Second way, they only notice you. Jack-Knife (Season 7);
Rule Fifty-One.”
28 When you need help, ask. Blood Brothers (Season 13)
35 Always watch the watchers. Baltimore” (Season 8)
36 If you feel like you are being played, you probably are. Nature of the Beast” (Season 9)
38 Your case, your lead. Bounce” (Season 6);
Phoenix” (Season 10)
39 There is no such thing as coincidence. Obsession” (Season 7)
40 If it seems like someone is out to get you, they are. Borderland” (Season 7)
42 Never accept an apology from someone who just sucker punched you. Psych Out” (Season 9)
44 First things first, hide the women and children. Patriot Down” (Season 7);
Rule Fifty-One” (Season 7)
45 Clean up the mess that you make. Rule Fifty-One” (Season 7)
51 Sometimes you’re wrong. Rule Fifty-One” (Season 7);
Keep Your Enemies Closer” (Season 15)
62 Always give people space when they get off an elevator. Double Back” (Season 11)
69 Never trust a woman who doesn’t trust her man. Devil’s Triangle” (Season 9)
73 Never meet your heroes. A Thousand Words” (Season 16)
99 Never tell Gibbs he’s been audited. Once Upon a Tim” (Season 16)