Being the gray man and situational awareness is about more than what you wear, it’s about everything you do that might make you stand out in a crowd. Being the gray man is about what you do and say on a daily basis, and who you say it to.
Throughout our daily live we do things trying to become the gray man every day. If you’ve ever tried to avoid eye contact with an annoying acquaintance or a street vendor, you have tried to become the gray man.
You can talk about operational security and situational awareness without talking about being the gray man, but you can’t talk about being the gray man without talking about operational security and situational awareness. Becoming unremarkable and unmemorable require you to understand your situation and act accordingly.
As I was growing up I was the gray man without even thinking about it. I was the quiet child that would always fly under the radar. My siblings were always busy talking, while I was always busy thinking about how to handle each situation. Because of this I was allowed to do just about anything I wanted because everyone trusted me, and focused their attention elsewhere.
SPP170 Being the Gray man & Situational Awareness
This week in the show Lisa and I went over some of the things that help us become unremarkable and might help us blend into the crowd. We also talked about how being the gray man changes depending on the situation you are facing.
If you live in an urban area you might not want to be wearing cammo and carrying a tactical backpack or bug out bag. If you live in a rural area you wouldn’t want to be wearing a 3-piece suit and carrying suitcase. Fitting in means looking just like everyone else, and unremarkable in every way.
The same would hold true in a small scale or large scale SHTF event. If everyone else is starving and losing weight, yet you look as healthy as ever because you have prepared, you are going to stand out. If everyone is without power and they see light coming from your window at night, you will be a target.
Prepper Hate: There is also the phenomena that Selco called “Prepper Hate” that we need to consider. This is when people form opinions about you according to their agenda, and rationalize stealing or harming you.
This might not be that big of a deal these days, but in any sort of disaster situation these people could say…
“They have way too much food; they must have stolen it”
“It’s not fair that they have food and we don’t, someone needs to make them share.”
These people could easily get other people on board with them and have no problem doing whatever it takes to feed their family…even if it means harming you.
In the show we mentioned when Selco was on the survival podcast and talked about what he went through in the Balkins. Listen to that episode here.
Your Outward Appearance
I briefly mentioned how most people will be losing weight, and if we don’t (because we have prepared) we will be on their radar very quickly. I recommend going to the thrift store and getting some clothes that are a size or 2 too big, so it looks like you have lost weight just like everyone else.
This also includes how our house looks, and our outside activity’s on a daily basis. If you get deliveries of long term food storage that sit on your front porch for everyone to see, that could be a red flag. If you have prepping supplies stored in your garage that neighbors can see, that could be a red flag.
We need to take a look at what we are doing that might compromise our operational security, and correct those problems while we can.
Just Shut Up and Listen
“Most people don’t listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply” – Stephen R Covey –
One of the biggest parts of being the gray man and operational security is the ability to listen and plan accordingly. If we are constantly talking and trying to impose our view, we are probably missing the important details.
As the saying goes “loose lips sink ships” and we all know at least 1 person that just talks WAY too much. We can’t afford to give out too much information because it come back to bite us in the future, especially by people we are unsure of.
We can get a better idea about these people by simply listening, and asking probing question. If they are one of those people that never stop talking, just shut up, listen and take it all in. They are probably giving you more insight that they even know.
Sizing People Up
I have written about how to size people up in the past, and it basically comes down to listening and posing the right questions. How someone handles everyday stressful situations could give you an idea about how they will handle real stress in a disaster situation.
I have also written about how we are going to need other people in a crisis situation because no one person can do everything. However, there is a fine line when it comes to creating a prepper group, or community, and giving out too much information to the wrong person.
It’s really up to you how you handle each situation, but if you go in cautiously and calculated, you have a better chance of coming out on top, and knowing whether you should stop talking about prepping, or if it’s ok to probe a little further.
Gray Man Prepping
In the process of our daily lives it’s important to practice situational awareness, operational security and becoming the gray man because a disaster is no time for practice. We can store all the food in the world, and have all the greatest prepping supplies, but if we don’t know how to hold on to them when times get tough it’s all for naught.
We need to look at every situation realistically, and be honest about how we are putting ourselves at risk. As I said earlier, right now it’s about avoiding a conversation with an annoying friend. In an SHTF event, that conversation could be potentially dangerous.
Gray Man Bugging Out
While becoming the gray man is the same no matter what situation you are facing, there are a whole different set of rules when it comes to bugging out. If we find ourselves in a bugging out (or in) situation timing and planning are critical.
This is why practicing situational awareness, and practicing becoming the gray man are so important. In a bug out situation it’s game time, it’s time to take everything you have learned and put it into action.
When we are thrust into a life threatening situation, we need to be able to react accordingly and make the right decisions. Sometimes the correct decision is avoiding the conflict all together, and that is what being the gray man is all about.
The SHTF Gray Man
Being the gray man in a post collapse or SHTF event is probably the most critical of all because there is really no set of rules, and no way to know what might happen. We all like to think about how we would handle every disaster situation, but the truth is there is no way to know.
There are so many different variables when it comes to a disaster situation, and so many events that would be caused by the initial event, that we need to be able to pivot and make critical decisions. Right now we can play the “what if” game, and if we are wrong we can hit the reset button and start over. In an SHTF scenario there is no reset button, and we will need to live (hopefully) with the decisions we have made.