Former Counterintelligence Special Agent, US Army Chief Warrant Officer, and Combat Veteran. I grew up in the woods and spent a lifetime in various environments from deserts to jungles to politically-sensitive urban environments, and I’m here to tell you what I know.
What is the Gray Man concept and what does it have to do with survival?
“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.
Ever watch The Silence on Dr Who? They could make you forget they were there. You should leave a person just like that. Why do people make an impression? Because they stand out. Standing out in a SHTF or disaster scenario can get you killed.
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.
He doesn’t just wear clothes that match what everyone else is wearing, he wears clothes no one will take note of. He doesn’t just do things to fit his natural surroundings, he does things that don’t cause your mind to take notice. He had no color, no smell, no texture, no emotion. He wasn’t there.
It’s not just the immediate threat that you need to be invisible to. Once people are in survival mode, they’ll remember what they didn’t even know they knew. A starving man may remember the faint smell of herbs as you walked by the last time you met and then assume that not only do you have food, you have delicious food. A person who’s decided you’re his next target may remember that the last time he saw you, it looked to him that you were taking notice of everything you saw and everything you heard, and will plan diligently for your demise. In a SHTF or disaster scenario, leaving even a subtle impression can cost you your preps or even your life.
“In a SHTF or disaster scenario, leaving even a subtle impression can cost you your preps or even your life.You may not at first recognize why you took notice of someone but somewhere in your mind a switch is flipped. You can’t always know what will flip these switches but you can attempt to study your targets and attempt to lessen the chance of being noticed. Ever had a conversation with someone who you’re attracted to and have just one movement or sentence switch you from being somewhat detached to thinking about sex? Desire is a basic motivation. Sexual desire, power, hunger; all are strong motivations that will shift someone’s attention from thought to action.
Some impressions are made when people notice something is familiar or something is strange. Typically something familiar triggers a mental note if that familiarity is rare or hasn’t been seen for a while. Have you ever walked through a mall for hours, not noticing all the perfumes, colognes and other smells until you pass someone wearing the perfume your mother wore when you were nine? Smell is one of the senses most linked to your base memory. The slightest hint of a scent not smelled in a lifetime will instantly bring you back to a childhood memory or relationship long forgotten. For a similar reason, strange smells, sights, sounds etc will cause your subconscious to take notice. You should have no memorable smell.
Be cognizant of any smells such as food, soap or gunpowder that someone would relate to something they’d want. Try to think about what you do, say or wear that may cause a connection to some kind of desire. This is especially important for females. When SHTF, there will be very few gentlemen and those in power will take what they want, without regard to repercussions. Be cognizant of innuendo or movements such as arching your back or physical contact. They may put you in a situation that you may not be able to get out of. At the very least, a guy could take notice of you where you may have been able to pass by unnoticed. Smells are just an example though. I use it because it’s such a powerful one.
Don’t let what you’re doing give yourself away
What you do and how you do it is the easiest way to give yourself away to someone who’s trained to look for these things. It’s called demeanor.
Have you ever been talking to someone and they look away at something, causing you to look as well? People naturally take notice of what others notice. As you try to pass through unnoticed, make sure you don’t look like you’re taking notice of anything in particular.
Watch how people naturally react to things and start getting a feel about how you internalize what others are noticing or experiencing. Then practice doing or noticing the same things without any external response. People are naturally curious creatures. If they see someone doing something curious, they want to investigate. Just because what you may be doing would be perfectly natural for someone to do at that time doesn’t mean you should be doing it.
Remember: the point isn’t so that you have a legitimate excuse for what you’re doing, it’s so that you don’t leave an impression. If you find yourself trying to fit into a crowd of people and are considering doing something so that you’re not just standing around looking obvious, pick something that people won’t take notice of. Reading a paper may be perfectly innocuous but reading a book on theoretical physics or LaPlace Transform Analysis may get people wanting to know your story. What may be perfectly normal for the surroundings may still get you noticed. Also remember that what may be perfectly normal now, may stand out in a SHTF or disaster scenario.
With all this said, this doesn’t mean that you should go around in a security-lacking environment without the proper equipment, tools, weapons, defenses and supplies. It also doesn’t mean that you should walk around lost in your own thoughts and oblivious to the world. You just may want to look like you are. You should always be prepared for whatever you can without letting those preparations cause you to be in a situation you don’t want. See everything. Smell everything. Analyze everything. Be ready for whatever may come up. Just don’t look like you are. The Gray Man is forgettable, not vulnerable. Don’t give up safety for anonymity.
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