First off what is a gray man? Blending into a crowd is called becoming a gray man.
There are people moving around us every day whose physical presence is so non-stimulating that we ignore them. They are for all intents and purposes, invisible to us. The gray man is the one we want to emulate in a disaster. The problem is, people have never seen a true gray man, unless you’ve been taught to see them. Because if you casually noticed him, his gray man-ness is in dispute.
“Don’t be a fly on the wall. Be the wall.” Remember what they say about first impressions? They last. Don’t make a first impression. Don’t make an impression at all.
Some people just naturally stand out. Some are tall, some are large, some are gorgeous, some are loud. Why do
they stand out? They stand out because they trigger something in your thought process. It could be that you somehow consider them a threat, a potential mate, remind you of someone in the past or are just wearing something that doesn’t fit with your expectations at the time. The secret to not standing out is hidden herein. In order to stay off the radar of others, whether you’re an undercover secret agent or just trying to get through a bad neighborhood, you need to be the person who doesn’t trigger anything in the thought process of others. We call that person the Gray Man. He is invisible. It’s not that he doesn’t exist or interact with people though. He can walk through a crowd, take note of everything he wants, complete his mission or walk through an area and be out without anyone remembering he was there.
Height is an element of being a gray man that we have little control over. The best gray man is ordinary in every respect. He’s of average height and weight. He has no obvious physical features that draw attention, ie, big nose, bald head, facial hair, etc. For example, I have a very hard time being a gray man because I am a big man. I am 6’2” and “husky,” as they say. People remember me as “that big dude.”
Dress is an element within our control. For the most part, natural and neutral colors work best; Browns and grays. Nothing to create a memory like a T-shirt with a saying or photos. Style of clothing tends to be very conservative. Nothing showing skin, nothing too fashionable, nothing to out of fashion. Ordinary is the key word here.
Becoming the Gray Man can be a difficult process with the current mindset of most preppers and survivalists. We tend to lean more towards the “military” look and use gear comfortable for the long haul.
The standard “uniform” for military’s civilian wear consist of 5.11 Tactical pants, (referred to by some of my friends as “shoot me first pants),” a khaki cotton button-down shirt with epaulettes, Oakley shades, desert combat boots, and a shaved head. Add to that a nice MOLLE backpack, and you have target written all over you. No one doubts that you have some very cool gear in that pack and they will want it. But as cool as that looks, it will draw the attention of both LE and predators. Use smaller more civilian style backpack or bag that says college student or business man headed to his 9-5 just passing through.
Since the gray man attracts no attention, his mannerisms must be small and discreet. No sweeping gestures. Energetically, the gray man is withdrawn. He does not project confidence. He does not look around much, he avoids eye contact.
I stood with a friend on the top level of the Tower City mall for about an hour once observing for class exercise involving foot surveillance. He nudged me and pointed to a guy on the escalator, “Fed!” I asked how he knew the guy was a federal agent. He told me to watch where he looked, what he looked at. Very discreetly, the man in question turned his body to the left and did an almost imperceptible head sweep that allowed him to see behind him. Then he did an adjustment that allowed him to sweep the area on his right. Without having it pointed out to me, I probably would not have noticed. However, the man displayed a now obvious level of awareness. This is one of the reasons I do not do gray well. I am always too curious. When I walk into a room, my head is on a swivel. It is a hard habit for me to break. Consequently, I have a hard time doing gray.
One of the key elements of camouflage is learning to match your movement to the baseline. If you spend any time in a city, you will notice that every neighborhood has a unique flavor. We call that the baseline. It refers to the sound, motion, activity level of the neighborhood in a normal situation. The speed at which people move, the way they gesture, the volume and speed with which they speak. All these elements and many more make up the baseline. You can learn the baseline for a given neighborhood by sitting somewhere and watching.
The element of matching the baseline is probably the single most important element of personal camouflage. Learning to walk like the natives walk will hide you better than just about anything else.
A key element in avoiding trouble is not to go where trouble tends to be. This means you must know the terrain like a native. You must know what neighborhoods are safe (relatively) and which ones to avoid. You must know roads and routes, locations of police stations, gas stations, convenience stores and emergency clinics. You should know what areas have street lights at night and which are dark. Know where the choke points are and where LE is likely to set up blockades. Being a gray man means avoiding trouble by not going where trouble is, unless necessary.
The gray man is the person who moves around the periphery of our awareness without creating any stimulus. This makes that person invisible for all practical purposes. Being invisible will greatly reduce the risk of falling prey to the two legged predators who will make life so “interesting” when this thin veneer of society peels away and reveals the pure ugly evil that lies underneath.
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