The Gray Man: Or How To Be Invisible:

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The Gray Man: Or How To Be Invisible:

Post by ista_hota » Thu Apr 23, 2009 5:29 pm

So we hear a lot about being 'the gray man' - but what is it, and how can we achieve that?

Below are some of my own thoughts, experiences and anecdotes on just that. This point is mainly (almost exclusively) about every day, non paw, non shtf situations. It's possible that I will make a sister post to it about the same subject but based in a fictitious shtf/paw situation to address things like tactical gear and dealing with LE. Until then, enjoy: and please note, all of this is strictly my own opinion and experience, if you have something to add, dispute or whatever, please do feel free - always open to discussion!

Physical Appearances:

~ The projection of confidence
Are you confident in your abilities? Confident in your gear? Confident in your knowledge? Don't bother answering - the fact of the matter is that people already know. The way you carry yourself, the way you stand, walk, talk - everything - gives even the least empathic person a clear picture of how confident you are in your own skin. Confidence is important, more important perhaps than anything else I'll discuss in this post, because, for all social intents and purposes, it separates the strong from the weak in the eye of the beholder. As a general rule, if you project confidence, you are less likely to be victimized, less likely to go home alone, less likely to be found guilty by a jury of your peers. Confidence demonstrates mental, and sometimes physical and even moral strength.

Let's take an example of a social gathering: When someone slinks into a room and sits in the corner quietly messing with their cellphone while everyone else is chatting away freely and openly, to me personally, they are projecting an aura of not wanting to be around me - for whatever reason. You never get a second chance to make a good first impression - respectful eye contact, a firm handshake, a confident voice - these are all qualities in a stranger that put me somewhat at ease.

Now, at the same time, since this post is about being the gray man, understand that there is such a thing as overconfidence. Whilst I like someone to be willing to participate in a group, or make eye contact with me, or whatever - I do not like someone to come into a social situation and instantly act like they are in charge or try to become the 'alpha' in the room. Two phrases, to me, govern how I should behave in a social situation:
"Speak softly and carry a big stick"
and
"Men of few words require few laws"

To me - if you wave your big stick around all the time, it means you're probably incapable of speaking softly (and rationally), and if you talk too much, it means you're probably uncomfortable in the honesty of mutual silence - confidence goes BOTH ways, sometimes the best way to demonstrate your confidence is to do nothing.

~ Skin color and how to use it
As a mixed race man I am all too aware of how skin color can dictate the way people behave towards you. I look 'different' - skin tone right in the middle, dark gray eyes and a complete inability to grow a beard longer than 1/4" (which takes about 3 months and is a different color to the hair on my head). Oh and all of my body hair is black except for the hair on my nuts, which is randomly blond.

Yeah, I know right?

At LEAST two times a week I have to answer the "Sooo.... where are you from?" question. I don't especially mind. Well, okay, I do mind, it's fucking annoying, like you're the first person who was even observant enough to notice that I don't look like the other kids? Well done, you get a fucking cookie, thanks for pointing it out, I hadn't noticed...............

......

...aaaaanyway..... It is, to me, the perfect indicator of the fact that race still plays a massive part in how people view each other. Furthermore, an indicator of how people will make assumptions about you based on your skin color can be demonstrated by my wife, who is Cherokee, but gets yelled at in Spanish CONSTANTLY. One time she was paying the mortgage at the bank and the clerk, without a word, pointed her to another counter... figuring that the clerk was going on break or something she went over to it, where a grinning Mexican man started babbling away at her, leaving her kinda... "Wat?"

Take it from me, even in a hugely multicultural environment such as London, people WILL make assumptions about you based on the color of your skin. That is not to say that these people are necessarily negatively prejudiced, but they'll still make assumptions, and you need to be aware of this and learn how to benefit from it and play upon it. Some of this is common sense: if you're the only black guy in a crowd and you realize you've stumbled into a KKK rally or the only white guy in a Black Panther meeting - just STFU. But that's not what we're talking about here, we're talking about the subtleties, and unfortunately for this post, the subtleties of interracial interaction vary widely by situation, race in question and environment - so I'm going to have to cut this section short and leave it with the age-old internet cop out:
"Figure this part of your yourself, YMMV."

Just keep in mind, when discussing how to be "the gray man" - sometimes you're just going to have to deal with being "the red/black/white/yellow/brown man". You can let that be a handicap, or you can learn to accept, deal with and use it. Remember that humor is great medicine - especially the self-deprecating kind - I'm not above telling someone I'll scalp them and take their firewater if they don't change the subject.

~ The pros and cons of scars and tattoos
A picture paints a thousand words. I picture on your body says "I am very committed to these thousand words". Considering tattoos is a serious choice because, barring removal, you need to accept that whatever that tattoo says about you is going to speak for the rest of your life. Evocative tattoos will bring out the fiercest responses from people because you know that whatever that tattoo says is something that that person really believes. To give an example, last summer my wife and I were driving along and there was a woman on the sidewalk - completely randomly my wife yells out the window at her. And I don't mean;
"HI HOW ARE YOU TODAY?"
I mean;
"YOU FUCKING CUNT!"

I'm sorta sitting there in a semi stunned silence wondering who stole my quiet country girl and replaced her with a tourettes patient and after a moment manage to squeeze a "wtf?" out of my mouth. Apparently the girl in question had a swastika tattooed on her stomach. I hadn't even noticed it, but it brought out a totally uncharacteristic display of public rage in my wife.

When you're planning your tattoos, both design and placement, consider what they say about you. If you get "I am the hardest fucker in this room" tattooed on your face, you have to expect to have that claim challenged. Yes, that's an extreme example, but it's meant to be illustrative. Consider that what may be commonplace in your current place of living may not be commonplace in the area you move to in ten years time - and that some tattoos and statements will fall greatly out of favor even in the same area over a period of time.

Scars are something different. You can't help your scars, you generally don't plan them. You can, however, choose whether to openly display them or not. I, personally, have some big, bad scarring on my shoulder and right arm - I won't go into how I got them, but suffice it to say, they look pretty mean. I generally choose to wear clothing that shows them off, when possible, because my scars are one of the areas where I allow my 'gray man' philosophy to give way to 'force projection'. If I, personally, was choosing someone to pick a fight with, rob, molest etc, I wouldn't pick someone who looked like he'd been torn up and sewn back together. I realized what a visual impression my scars made very early and easily, because guess what the number one question (even more than race) is that I get asked WITHOUT FAIL by everyone I meet for longer than five minutes?

"Dude... what the fuck happened to your arm??"

So, with scars and tattoos, you have to make a choice. Do I want to go gray, and hide them, keeping attention to myself minimal? Or do I want to use them as a passive force projection in hope of not appearing an easy victim? Arguments can be made for both, again YMMV, but both tattoos and scars can say a lot about a person, just keep that in mind. In a similar vein, scarring on the hands, forearms and feet will tell a person a lot about what kind of life you lead - remember that if you're trying a bluff - don't tell me you're a bare knuckle boxing champion if you have perfectly manicured hands and fingernails - for example.

~ Dressing for success (or failure)
Everything that I have said regarding tattoos also applies to the way you dress. If you are going to wear a shirt that says "I will kill you for no reason" in bright yellow letters, you're going to attract a LOT of unwanted attention. That goes without saying. However, let's talk more about the subtleties of clothing:

How you dress speaks volumes about you. Yes, people can dress up or down, but as a general rule, when you see someone dressed a certain way you make an assumption about them. Someone wearing a police uniform is probably a cop. Someone wearing stilettos probably has a car or ride nearby. Someone carrying a Versace purse is probably also carrying a decent amount of money and an expensive cellphone. Even on a more simple level - someone wearing a short sleeved shirt in December is probably hardy, someone wearing a thick coat in July is probably concealing something. Someone wearing florescent colors probably doesn't care about people's opinions. Someone wearing current season head to toe is probably not as confident in their own skin as they should be.

Consider, when you are getting dressed in the morning, where you are going and what impression you want to give off. If, for example, I am going to the 'bad side of town', I am likely to wear a motto shirt, short sleeved (for the scars), no watch, comfortable cargo pants and no nonsense footwear. On the other hand, I wouldn't want to go into court like that - I'd want to appear smart, well manicured and non threatening. Blend into your environment - but remember that sometimes you may want to push the 'gray man' line a little to appear less of a target. If you're going in to fight a traffic ticket, you want to dress in as responsible, honest and middle class of a manner as possible and try to appear the least guilty fucker in the room - and, conversely, if you are going to your bank in the 'bad side of town', you want to NOT appear to be a worthy target - either through dressing for passive intimidation, for neutral 'gray man effect' or merely by deliberately dressing like a broke motherfucker, not worth the bother to rob.

~ Roll for charisma check
A few nice words and/or a flirtatious grin will get you further, faster, than trying to convince someone that they are wrong, and you are right. What we're talking about now is those day to day situations where you need to talk to someone who may not be receptive. Let's say the elderly lady's dog is digging up your garden. Which of the following is the option most likely to get you in the door to discuss the situation with said neighbor?

A) "Bitch, you need to control your dog, he's eating my vegetables, don't make me shoot him."
B) "Hello, I need you to stop your dog from coming onto my property please, he's damaging my garden."
C) "Well hello young lady, is your mommy home? I'd like to ask her a favor about your dog."

Again, extreme example(ish) and laced with trademark humor but it's meant to be illustrative. Being nice will get you your way at least 7 times out of 10, in my experience, even with people who are ordinarily douchebags. The other 3 times out of 10, fine, do your worst, but at least you can say you tried to be nice and reasonable first.

Now of course, there ARE times when you should not try to talk your way out of a situation and just go on instinct.
"Give me your wallet or I'll cut you!"
"Wow, you have beautiful eyes, can we talk, maybe get a coffee?"

Use your judgment and common sense.

Your Vehicle:

~ Five easy ways to get your vehicle stolen
1) Play really loud music from your stereo
2) Park your car in a stupid place, such as outside a crack house
3) Put flashy shit (rims, body kit etc) on your car
4) Park your car outside when you have a working garage (there's a reason your insurance goes down if you have a garage)
5) Leave expensive or otherwise tempting articles in your car, in plain view

~ Body color and how to use it
Cars wear clothing too! The simplest way to make you car 'gray' is to literally paint the thing gray. Gray is the least assuming, least eye catching color (imho) that you will find. White can work too, but, especially in a truck, white=work=tools=profit. When I see a gray or matte silver car I think old people. Old people don't have thousands of dollars of stereo equipment in their vehicle, and are generally more sensible about not leaving important articles in their vehicles. They are also more likely to be able to spring for factory extras on their vehicle like alarms, immobilizers, OnStar etc.

Understand, at the other end of the scale, that whilst painting your vehicle vibrant, cool colors is fun and it's nice to make a fashion statement - by doing so you are saying "I put a lot of work and money into this vehicle" - and generally, what's true on the outside is true on the inside. If you want to have a real nice truck or car for recreation - by all means do, I'll talk about Q-Cars in a minute, but if you are only using one vehicle, don't make yourself a bigger target.

Also, remember that people will make assumptions about you by the color of your car just as they will with your skin - for example, my wife has a theory that it is impossible to have both a yellow Mustang AND a large penis. True or false, makes no difference, assumptions do not have to be logical.

~ The pros and cons of damage and bumper stickers
Damage and bumper stickers are analogous to scars and tattoos. Firstly, bumper stickers - what bumper stickers you choose to put of your vehicle reflect your personal views about those subjects in the same (although less permanent) way that your tattoos do. Bumper stickers range from funny to outright offensive, and may lead to any number of outcomes, from getting a friendly 'honk' down to getting your vehicle vandalized. If you want to, for example, put a defense of marriage sticker on your car - that's your choice, I endorse your first amendment rights - but don't get mad when you park in the parking lot of a gay bar and come back to a car covered in eggs and all scratched up. Similarly, in my humble opinion, some bumper displays give a small window into the personal habits of a person. If, for example, I see a bumper with "Clinton '92!" on it, I think that you don't care much for maintenance and keeping things up to date. If I see a neatly arranged yellow and a pink ribbon on your bumper, I tend to think you don't give much of a shit about either cause and are just being fashionable. (Again, my personal reactions, I don't mean them to be offensive to anyone.)

As for damage? Well, this gets into the Q-Car concept I'm about to discuss, but damage to your vehicle can do two things; firstly, cosmetic damage makes the vehicle look cheap, and probably means that the person doesn't have much in the way of shit worth stealing inside and/or on their person. Secondly, some specific damage to your vehicle can actually AVOID further damage. For example, having a busted lock on your door might avoid a broken window. Pairing a busted lock with one of those steering wheel bar locks is great for parking in crappy neighborhoods - it allows people to get into your car without smashing anything to look for shit to steal (don't leave anything in there, obviously) but at the same time provides a strong deterrent to stealing the car itself and/or damaging the ignition or column lock.

~ The Q-Car
And so we come to the Q-Car. If you are familiar with the concept of a Q-Ship, you'll understand kinda where I'm coming from with this - if not, look it up on wikipedia.

Just because you want to have a shitty looking car to drive when you NEED to doesn't mean you can't also have a nice one for when you WANT to. Herein lies the concept of the Q-Car - an old, fucked up vehicle that doesn't look worth the time of day, with body aging, corrosion and/or damage, no stereo etc. BUT... mechanically maintained in top condition - or even tuned and tinkered to be more powerful and capable mechanically that your nice car. Old Police cruisers are gold for this purpose - absolute gold.

Some advantages to owning a Q-Car:
1) It allows you a vehicle that is both low risk for break ins AND low cost to replace if stolen
2) It's generally going to be YOUR car. No loan, no lien. If you're paying more than $500-1000 for a Q-Car before mechanical work, you're doing it wrong.
3) If you pick the right vehicle and/or motor, you have a gas saver to drive daily when gas prices get (temporarily or permanently) to the point of choking your nice new truck or SUV. Our '88 Sable gets 29 MPG highway with the cheapest gas. Our '92 S-10 pickup gets around 27. Both a huge saving over the 14 we'd get from our '00 Jimmy.
4) If you don't already have mechanical skills, you can learn them working on your Q-Car without fear of fucking up a $10-$20k piece of machinery. I've said it over and over, the biggest currency in a PAW will be SKILLS.

Your Gear:

~ Blending in, the right way, and the wrong way
Blending in and 'camouflage' are always going to be subjective to your current environment (and in a SHTF to the environment of your BOL). Where I'm from, Multicam would be an excellent choice for gear. If however you live in New York City, you're going to look like a prick walking around in Multicam, SHTF or not. Each pattern and/or color has its advantages and disadvantages based on where you are. For example - black gear bags - a lot of people will tease you for being a 'mall ninja' - but if you live in a big city, you're going to stick out WAY more carrying a MARPAT bag than you are carrying a black one. There's not much to say here because it's all SO individual to each person's environment, but just remember that blending in is not about simply selecting the appropriate camouflage pattern or most high dollar concealment items - it's about looking, more or less, like everyone else around you.

~ What about deliberately NOT blending in?
Absofuckinglutely. We've already discussed, in clothing, about pushing the line of 'gray man' into 'passive force projection' and this can apply to gear. For example, if there is a fight breaking out in my street, I'll likely toss on my duty belt (which serves as grab gear for "bumps in the night", if you're wondering) before I run out there. Why? Because at first glance people might assume I'm an off duty cop. It's a visual impression that could potentially help diffuse the situation passively.

The other side of this is when you NEED to be seen. If you're going hunting in a high traffic area for example, don't dress in a deer suit. I don't care how much you want to yiff, it aint worth your life.

~ Carrying what you need - or minimizing your profile
Finally in the gear section, think about carrying what you NEED to carry on a given day. I have three EDC setups, high risk, EDC, and light clothing. You have to work your EDC around what you're wearing and where you're going - especially when you consider printing. We've talked about "passive force projection" sometimes being a good thing, and I stand by that, but this post is about being a 'gray man' and therefore understand that you simply cannot expect to be the gray man if you are only wearing speedos but still want to carry your Glock. There are situations where I WANT people to look at me and see that I'm armed, but they are in the minority. We'll talk open carry in a minute, right now I'm meaning in general, regarding your knives, less lethal etc.

Your Weapon:

~ Open carry - a cultural thing
The argument about open carry often misses a key point: culture. Where I call 'home', it's no big thing to see someone walking around with a rifle or shotgun slung, or to see a gun rack in a parked truck. Where I live currently however, you just don't see that, it's a culturally different place. For those who want to Open Carry to make a "political point" - I fully support you, but for everyone reading this for the sake of 'gray man' education - consider how others are going to react to you carrying Open vs. Concealed. No matter how gray your mannerisms, clothing and car are, if you walk into certain places with a weapon you your side, you are going to be the focus of EVERYONE's attention, immediately, regardless of how legally you are carrying.

~ The pros and cons of the BFK
Big Fucking Knife. The trick to this, for appearing 'gray', is - can you conceal it? The answer, invariably, is yea, you can conceal more or less any sensible tactical knife but you have to do it smart. I advocate the carry of a BFK as a secondary weapon because the bigger and meaner looking the knife, the more passive force projection you have if you need to bring it out in a situation where your gun is unusable (you don't have one, catastrophic failure, area full of bystanding crowd - pick one). That, to me, is the central principal of being an armed gray man - passivity. I can guarantee you that if I were to go to do my bank errands wearing a plate carrier and carrying an AR - NO FUCKER would rob me. However, I would also quickly find that no fucker would serve me, and likely that no jury would sympathize with me either. Weapons, for a gray man, need to be concealable, functional and fucking awful mean looking - anyone will tell you that the last situation that any sane concealed carry holder (or other weapon toting individual such as those who can only carry pocket knives etc) want to be in, is a situation where you have to use your weapon. 90% of the time, in day to day life, that means you want to ride what I call the "passivity see-saw". You want to appear unarmed and ordinary, but have the ability to suddenly appear extremely fucking scary at a moment's notice - when in doubt, act like a cat would act.

Your Group:

~ Being aware of how your group appears, positioning wise
If you are out with a group, keep in mind how you are positioning yourselves, and how that is viewed by others. If you are all standing in front of the door, blocking others, everyone will know you're there (and be pissed at you). Conversely, if you are all off in the dark corner, everyone will notice you and think you're up to no good. Confidence - stand in the open, talk freely, don't be in anyone's way, be polite, don't try to actively hide.

~ Being aware of how your group appears, composition wise
This plays back into some of my earlier points - understand that people will view certain types of groups with prejudice, and as a gray man/gray group that is not good. If you are a bunch of big burly dudes and you realize you just walked into a feminist rally - don't pinch any asses. Also understand that how other members of your group act and dress reflects on you - yes, you cannot control what someone wears, but you can control associating with them, either at that particular moment or in general - and if one of your companions is acting like a dick to people (especially when drunk), try to rein them in and diffuse the situation. Humans are, at heart, a tribal people, and the 'them and us' and 'guilty by association' mentalities still prevail very strongly sometimes. All the 'gray' attitude, clothing, gear and mentality in the world will not keep you from notice if your buddy is pointing at you and yelling "HEY - EVERYONE LOOK AT THIS DUDE!".



Well, that's my thoughts - of course, open to debate, criticism, whatever - fell free to chime in with your counterpoints or other wisdom. Thanks for reading!
Last edited by ista_hota on Fri May 15, 2009 8:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: The Gray Man: Or How To Be Invisible:

Post by raptor » Thu Apr 23, 2009 6:13 pm

Excellent article thanks for the post!

I am a big proponent of being a gray man.

I would also add that a clip board with work orders coupled with a uniform shirt with a logo and a hat with a matching logo is great urban camouflage.

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Re: The Gray Man: Or How To Be Invisible:

Post by Jamie » Thu Apr 23, 2009 6:15 pm

Nice post...thanks!

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Re: The Gray Man: Or How To Be Invisible:

Post by Subdiver » Thu Apr 23, 2009 7:00 pm

+ 1000!

This is excellent advice, and much of my own habits revolve around these things. My truck: '82 Chevy diesel, dinged up w/ slightly faded paint, tool box. However, 86,000 miles (barely broken in) $3000 + in new parts, mechanically impeccable, and 18mpg. I just drove it from Galveston, to San Diego, to Seattle without a hick up. In the truck cab, no stereo, no flash, nothing useful. Locked 'n' sturdy toolbox? Completely different story, all sorts of useful shit in there. I pride myself on being able to blend in with just about any situation (I used to hang out in a Lesbian bar) or conversely, walk down the worst street in the city at 3am without out a problem: again, it's all in how you carry yourself.
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Re: The Gray Man: Or How To Be Invisible:

Post by misanthropist » Thu Apr 23, 2009 7:36 pm

I am a big believer in the "grey man" approach but to be honest I have not had much luck with it. I am six foot two and 210 pounds, and run and cycle a LOT and I work out. I got the top mark in every one of five classes I was in this semester, and I'm older than most students - I turned 32 yesterday. I also have more money than most students - I am used to making a 6-figure income. As a result of both my age and my life experience, I am totally comfortable with who I am and what I'm about. The physical activity gives me good posture, so between the posture and the confidence and the extroverted personality and the loud voice, yeah, I stick out.

So although I specifically try to blend in, I totally, totally fail, and frankly I don't expect this to change.

So one thing to remember is that the grey man approach, while good, never seems to disguise the "switched on" people at all.

That can be a good thing, but only if you are not trying to blend in.

So remember, if you REALLY want to be a grey man, you WON'T some of what's mentioned in the OP. Being a grey man is not about telegraphing confidence to others...it's about NOT telegraphing the confidence you actually have and I have not found a good way to do this yet.

Projecting confidence is about deterrence. Grey man is about avoidance. They are both good strategies, but don't do one thinking you're doing the other.
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Re: The Gray Man: Or How To Be Invisible:

Post by TravisM.1 » Thu Apr 23, 2009 8:46 pm

ista_hota wrote:Physical Appearances:

~ The projection of confidence
Are you confident in your abilities? Confident in your gear? Confident in your knowledge? Don't bother answering - the fact of the matter is that people already know. The way you carry yourself, the way you stand, walk, talk - everything - gives even the least empathic person a clear picture of how confident you are in your own skin. Confidence is important, more important perhaps than anything else I'll discuss in this post, because, for all social intents and purposes, it separates the strong from the weak in the eye of the beholder. As a general rule, if you project confidence, you are less likely to be victimized, less likely to go home alone, less likely to be found guilty by a jury of your peers. Confidence demonstrates mental, and sometimes physical and even moral strength.
Bodhi: It's basic dog psychology, if you scare them and get them peeing down their leg, they submit. But if you project weakness, that promotes violence, and that's how people get hurt.
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Re: The Gray Man: Or How To Be Invisible:

Post by ista_hota » Thu Apr 23, 2009 11:05 pm

raptor wrote:Excellent article thanks for the post!

I am a big proponent of being a gray man.

I would also add that a clip board with work orders coupled with a uniform shirt with a logo and a hat with a matching logo is great urban camouflage.
Thanks dude, any endorsement from you is taken most humbly.

And yea, I remember reading your work order deal, I think in your Katrina post - need to get around to setting something like that up, just in case.

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Re: The Gray Man: Or How To Be Invisible:

Post by ista_hota » Thu Apr 23, 2009 11:07 pm

misanthropist wrote:I am a big believer in the "grey man" approach but to be honest I have not had much luck with it. I am six foot two and 210 pounds, and run and cycle a LOT and I work out. I got the top mark in every one of five classes I was in this semester, and I'm older than most students - I turned 32 yesterday. I also have more money than most students - I am used to making a 6-figure income. As a result of both my age and my life experience, I am totally comfortable with who I am and what I'm about. The physical activity gives me good posture, so between the posture and the confidence and the extroverted personality and the loud voice, yeah, I stick out.

So although I specifically try to blend in, I totally, totally fail, and frankly I don't expect this to change.

So one thing to remember is that the grey man approach, while good, never seems to disguise the "switched on" people at all.

That can be a good thing, but only if you are not trying to blend in.

So remember, if you REALLY want to be a grey man, you WON'T some of what's mentioned in the OP. Being a grey man is not about telegraphing confidence to others...it's about NOT telegraphing the confidence you actually have and I have not found a good way to do this yet.

Projecting confidence is about deterrence. Grey man is about avoidance. They are both good strategies, but don't do one thinking you're doing the other.
Yea, even while writing this I found myself at time having to self edit because I was, on occasion, contradicting myself. It's all about finding the right balance and what works for you. I tried to strip my ideas here down to being the most neutral view I could put across.

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Re: The Gray Man: Or How To Be Invisible:

Post by TDW586 » Thu Apr 23, 2009 11:36 pm

I enjoyed this quite a bit, great article. I'm a big guy and in good shape, with lots of minor facial and hand scars, but I smile too much to actually look threatening; I actually find that's a good balance.
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Re: The Gray Man: Or How To Be Invisible:

Post by Ad'lan » Fri Apr 24, 2009 4:07 am

Awesome stuff Ista Hota.

I currently have a burn scar on my neck. Unfortunately, it dosn't work to say I am a Scary Person you don't wanna fight. Several people have thus far assumed that it's a hicky.
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Re: The Gray Man: Or How To Be Invisible:

Post by Hero4Hire4 » Fri Apr 24, 2009 9:03 am

ista_hota wrote: Some of this is common sense: if you're the only black guy in a crowd and you realize you've stumbled into a KKK rally or the only white guy in a Black Panther meeting - just STFU.
Excellent write up. It brought back an old memory. A really nervous father once hired me to look after his really clueless young adult daughter when she went places on her own. One night in particular she wanted to go out to a David Allen Coe concert. She also wanted to meet up with some of her equally clueless girlfriends at the concert.

Imagine this scene, it’s an outdoor concert, D.A.C. is up on stage performing and does a brief double take because looking out at the audience and in amongst a sea of white faces there one black face. It belongs to 6’ 5” me and there I am sitting with five fairly attractive young white females. We’re in Mississippi and there were folks all around us wearing rebel flag shirts, caps and dresses. I felt like the black guest of honor at Klan cross burning ceremony.

Mel Brooks couldn’t have written it any better than it actually happened. There wasn’t any blending in for me that night. It was one of those very interesting nights where I couldn’t help thinking “I don’t get paid enough for this crap”. If I could have gotten a dime for every odd look I got that night I’d be rich. :-)
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Re: The Gray Man: Or How To Be Invisible:

Post by ozwyn » Fri Apr 24, 2009 9:32 am

hmm.. funny point on the scars. I have this somewhat nasty facial scar going down from my eye. I also tend to go for eye contact and say "sir" a lot. I know I have found myself in the wrong side of DC a few times (I swear the police I saw looked more scummy than the drug dealers backw hen I was there), and never had issues.

I never connected the scars with the attitude as additional "disincentive". I always figure it was eye contact, polite, respoectful words, and going up to a cop who looked really sleazy and say "Can I help you sir?" at close distance. (only time I ever seen a cop flee. I mean, he should have kicked my tall white butt all over the place)

never counted the scar factor. *shrug*
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Re: The Gray Man: Or How To Be Invisible:

Post by Creaux » Fri Apr 24, 2009 9:43 am

Fantastic! If I didn't have to run, I'd give you thoughts, but I'll write more later.

(Maybe I like it because it makes me feel better about the body work that really needs to be done on my car...)
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Re: The Gray Man: Or How To Be Invisible:

Post by TC » Fri Apr 24, 2009 9:46 am

Great write up, this is a philosophy that I very much believe in.

Personally, I'm not massively muscular, but I'm no stick man either. On the plus side I am 6'2", which probably gets ratcheted up to 6"3 with my boots on. I'm not all that fit, but I'm slim, so I can still get away with appearing to be in good shape. I reckon that this is a pretty good place to be in, since whilst I'm not brawny enough for everyone to think "better not mess with that guy", I reckon that my height/skeletal size are enough to make people think twice if they do have any ideas about doing me harm. I'm not trying to make myself sound like a hard man, I'm not one, but I am able to project enough confidence and hold an upright enough posture to appear aware and secure in my surroundings.

I also agree a lot with the dress code idea. As a university student, I can wear pretty much anything I want and as a result I go with work boots, jeans and t-shirts and hoodies in subdued colours. London isn't a very colourful city, so by dressing in no name brand, plain clothing that is of similar colours to the city itself I can go pretty unnoticed. I don't wear clothes with slogans or images on them, so people don't linger on me to read my shirt or think 'oh, I've seen that image somewhere before'. I don't act in a noticeable manner when I am out and about, I just quietly but briskly walk to where I want to go. I keep my hair short and don't style it in some weird way. Sure, people will still see me, but my goal is to be instantly forgettable.

Having said all this, it doesn't mean I'm unfriendly to people or give them an "I'm going to beat the shit out of you" look, that would spoil the whole thing. If someone needs help or asks for directions, I'll stop and help them (provided that it doesn't look like a set up for a pick pocket or something). If someone looks like trouble, I'll stay out of the way, but do it in a way that makes it look like I haven't even noticed them but rather that I am just going about my business without seeing what's going on or changing my route to avoid them. It's a kind of "I don't want you to know that I know" thing.

Anyway, I'm glad that this thread has come up. IMHO, prepping is just as much about this stuff as it is about BOBs and ZPAWs.
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Re: The Gray Man: Or How To Be Invisible:

Post by raptor » Fri Apr 24, 2009 11:36 am

ista_hota wrote: I remember reading your work order deal, I think in your Katrina post - need to get around to setting something like that up, just in case.

My favorite line when asked "what a am I doing and where am I going"? Was to simply shake my head hold up the work order and read the address and say " Man they don't tell me shit... just what is on this work order". When pressed for information I always suggested that they call the office and say with indifference of a mediocre employee "Hey I don't mind I get paid the same whether I am working or standing here talking to you". Then just wait them out. It worked more times than not. The attitude to convey is one of confidence but indifference, not aggression or dominance. A confident "Hey I don't give rats ass one way or the other".

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Re: The Gray Man: Or How To Be Invisible:

Post by razi » Fri Apr 24, 2009 12:02 pm

Good post. :)
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Re: The Gray Man: Or How To Be Invisible:

Post by Puffenstuff » Fri Apr 24, 2009 12:10 pm

Very good article. The role of demeanor and appearance is important in avoiding confrontations and often overlooked.
As you pointed out, your personal stratagey is not entirely "gray man". You mix in quite a few elements of "force projection" or "top dog". Each person has to find the strategy that works for them. Personally, I am a natural "grey man". I have a nondescript appearance, calm demeanor. I don't naturally assert myself or project confidence. It is not uncommon for someone to come into a room look around for me and then ask someone else where I am, despite having just looked in my direction.
ista_hota wrote: Let's take an example of a social gathering: When someone slinks into a room and sits in the corner quietly messing with their cellphone while everyone else is chatting away freely and openly, to me personally, they are projecting an aura of not wanting to be around me - for whatever reason. You never get a second chance to make a good first impression - respectful eye contact, a firm handshake, a confident voice - these are all qualities in a stranger that put me somewhat at ease.
I suspect the reason you notice the cell phone user is because they are acting nervous. When people fidget or act uncomfortable, we are programed to pick up on that because they might be nervous about something we should be nervous about. In the situation you outline I would be sitting with one of the freely chatting groups but rarely giving input, hardly a projection of confidence but not a projection of nervousness either.

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I have to disagree. As Bodhi pointed out, dogs often submit when threatened, often by rolling over on their back. This puts them in a very vulnerable position. They do this because it demonstrates that they are not a threat to the alpha dog and reduces the chances that they will be injured. Of course, there are times when this is not the best strategy, when dealing with a psychopath, for instance.
A counter example: One of the new students in my Aikido class got into a fight at a party, or rather someone tried to beat him up. When the aggressor threw the first punch he stepped right up next to the guy, making it very difficult to put any force into the blow. The punch glanced off the side of his head, doing no damage and the student slumped to the floor as if he had been hit hard. The aggressor was immediately tackled by three bystanders. The student played the underdog and won the fight by projecting weakness.
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Re: The Gray Man: Or How To Be Invisible:

Post by whisk.e.rebellion » Fri Apr 24, 2009 12:35 pm

ista_hota wrote:White can work too, but, especially in a truck, white=work=tools=profit.
If you live or are traveling through a farming area, the white pickup truck is the ultimate grey man vehicle. Where I live, I could drive a white pick up truck, pull over on a farm road and start digging a hole to bury just about anything and no one would take notice.
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Re: The Gray Man: Or How To Be Invisible:

Post by Puffenstuff » Fri Apr 24, 2009 12:39 pm

whisk.e.rebellion wrote:
ista_hota wrote:White can work too, but, especially in a truck, white=work=tools=profit.
If you live or are traveling through a farming area, the white pickup truck is the ultimate grey man vehicle. Where I live, I could drive a white pick up truck, pull over on a farm road and start digging a hole to bury just about anything and no one would take notice.
Lulz. Around here the unmarked police vehicles are Dodge pickups and they are dang hard to spot! :lol:
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Re: The Gray Man: Or How To Be Invisible:

Post by Wolfdude87 » Fri Apr 24, 2009 12:40 pm

Great post!

The only thing I have to say is about the BFK. In Virginia you can't conceal a tactical knife, the entire sheath must be visible. CCW holders have a Concealed Handgun Permit, not a Concealed Weapon Permit, which means no knives.
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Re: The Gray Man: Or How To Be Invisible:

Post by DFWMTX » Fri Apr 24, 2009 12:56 pm

I've been practicing this for years. Blue jeans and plain colored shirts -blue, gray, black, white, green, maybe tan are best; avoid red, yellow, purple, orange- and sneakers or boots (not cowboy boots or rubber boots) are best. Avoid wording or pictures on your shirts. Keep jeans washed and tear free. Good to go.

....or course being a gray man doesn't help in the dating scene.
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Re: The Gray Man: Or How To Be Invisible:

Post by whisk.e.rebellion » Fri Apr 24, 2009 1:01 pm

Wolfdude87 wrote:Great post!

The only thing I have to say is about the BFK. In Virginia you can't conceal a tactical knife, the entire sheath must be visible. CCW holders have a Concealed Handgun Permit, not a Concealed Weapon Permit, which means no knives.
Same thing goes in California. I can wear my Ka-Bar on my belt, as long as the entire thing is visible from the top of the handle to the bottom of the sheath.

Then again, if I'm actually going to carry my Ka-Bar, I think it would be along itsa hota's lines of "projection of force." Nothing says "don't fuck with that dude" quite like a BFK dangling from a belt.
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Re: The Gray Man: Or How To Be Invisible:

Post by DannusMaximus » Fri Apr 24, 2009 1:41 pm

raptor wrote:My favorite line when asked "what a am I doing and where am I going"? Was to simply shake my head hold up the work order and read the address and say " Man they don't tell me shit... just what is on this work order". When pressed for information I always suggested that they call the office and say with indifference of a mediocre employee "Hey I don't mind I get paid the same whether I am working or standing here talking to you". Then just wait them out. It worked more times than not. The attitude to convey is one of confidence but indifference, not aggression or dominance. A confident "Hey I don't give rats ass one way or the other".
Funny, Raptor. I've thought for years that a person with a hard hat, clipboard, and orange safety vest could get anywhere they wanted too, as long as they were willing to act like they belonged there. Few things will open doors like a spot on impersonation of a bored utility worker...

This is a great post. I personally don't think it's totally possible to go unnoticed in a SHTF scenario, because people are going to be hyperalert due to the situation, especially pubic safety and military personnel who have been called in. In my opinion, then, 'going grey' means blending with the people you are trying not to gain the negative attention of, and in a SHTF situation, blending with local authorities may help a great deal. I don't mean go out and steal a National Guard or police uniform, of course, but a reasonably fit person with a short, military hair cut and clean, pressed 5.11 type clothing is going to give out a "he's one of us" vibe to local authorities much more than a person with dreadlocks, multiple face piercings, and a hemp poncho tossed about their shoulders. Dress however you want, it's a free country, but realize that the way a person dresses is either going to get them positively or negatively noticed in most cases. A person with a unabomber beard and haircut traipsing down the street in full mall Ninja attire is just screaming to be hassled by authorities!

Also, if you don't already know it, I recommend learning basic military rank structure and the way the LEO and public safety heirarchy (sp?) works in your area. Being able to approach a checkpoint and say "Hey, Staff Sergeant, what's the word?" or interact with your local police/fire by using proper titles is definitely going to get you the 'one of the boys' treatment. If something is starting to go a little sideways, a person who confidently can say "Corporal, I understand what you're saying, but do me a favor and let me talk to your squad leader (team leader, XO, etc.)", is going to get better results than an addled civilian stammering "I want to talk to the person in charge here, dammit!"
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Re: The Gray Man: Or How To Be Invisible:

Post by Murph » Fri Apr 24, 2009 2:11 pm

Puffenstuff wrote:A counter example: One of the new students in my Aikido class got into a fight at a party, or rather someone tried to beat him up. When the aggressor threw the first punch he stepped right up next to the guy, making it very difficult to put any force into the blow. The punch glanced off the side of his head, doing no damage and the student slumped to the floor as if he had been hit hard. The aggressor was immediately tackled by three bystanders. The student played the underdog and won the fight by projecting weakness.
A friend of mine had a knife pulled on him at a college party. He grabbed the guy's wrist, parried the knife away, and then head butted the guy. Friend 1 - Guy 0 He knocked the guy out cold.

There's nothing like being a bad ass compared to a whimp. 8)
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