Feb 28

Grey Man: There are NO Absolutes

There are quite a few posts on other blogs, forums and even books written about how to blend in and be the “grey man.”  How to be like one of the flock without frightening or tipping of the rest of the herd, this to protect your own OPSEC or maybe there are other reasons.  It seems like the common theme with all of these (especially blog posts) suggestions are that they often reside in a world of absolutes.

  • NEVER wear tactical clothing
  • NEVER tell anyone you prep
  • NEVER use a credit card
  • ALWAYS pay in cash
  • NEVER use your real name on legal documents
  • ALWAYS turn off your cell phone when not in use

The list goes on and on but those are a few examples I came up with right off the top of my head.  When considering what it takes to be a true grey man (or human version of the chameleon) I believe that while one’s life should not be an open book, there is one concept that wins the day: COMMON SENSE.

Government agents spend years training to be the grey man in foreign countries.  They learn languages, cultures and foster relationships so that they can blend in.  Even minor mistakes can lead to their cover being blown so they must remain very diligent in their training and execution.  Fortunately we live in America and know our culture quite well, and in most instances we don’t have to worry about the slip of the tongue setting off a sequence of events which ends with a minivan rolling up, 5 bad guys and a burlap sack over our head.

I wear tactical clothing sometimes and guess what, if I’m at a gun show or even outdoor store I tend to blend right in.  There are some people who know that I prep but nobody outside of my inner circle which I would consider noteworthy.  Heck I’ve written about complete strangers who have some clue as to my preps but it doesn’t concern me one bit.  If the furnace repairman is standing in my basement surrounded by cases of mountain house and 55 gallon water drums what CAN you say?  “Yea man, these are for a birthday party next weekend, gotta stock up for the picky eaters.”  Or how about “Zombie Apocalypse brother, when the living dead start hitting the streets I’m hunkering down!”  So what if he knows, and if he decides to walk from wherever his home is through SHTF to get to my house that’s all the better.  By that time I’ll have far more to deal with than some service technician with malicious intent.

As I previously referenced: common sense wins the day.  When you try too hard that’s what makes you stand out.  The bleating flock is easy to move with if you exercise a little awareness.

  • Tactical clothing when appropriate, business casual when appropriate, shorts and t shirt when appropriate.
  • Talking about stocking up or even prepping is fine as long as it is in generalities.  Prepping / Survivalism is pretty mainstream now that all of the reality based shows have hit the television.  Someone mentions prepping and you immediately clam up / walk away / change the subject: that’s what attracts attention (versus knowing how to have a conversation without divulging the wrong things).
  • Use credit or debit cards within moderation, it’s doubtful that someone is sitting in a room populating an excel spreadsheet with your name and a details block which reads: “Bought 6 cases of MREs.”  If that truly is the case (no pun intended) I’d say we are safe, good luck searching the homes of everyone that shops at Costco or buys in bulk online.

All of these concepts really aren’t that hard to grasp or put into play if you think about it.  So go out there and be the smart grey man, the one who does not exist in a world of absolutes.


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    • The Maj on February 28, 2014 at 9:43 AM
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    All I can say is “thank God for rednecks”. In my area it is easy to blend into my surroundings because it is populated with far more rednecks than yuppie city folks and redneck wannabe yuppie city folks. Now, before all the rednecks of the world jump, I am not knocking rednecks, just stating the well known fact that rednecks are generally “fashion challenged” so blending in is a matter of not looking yuppie or citified. I could not tell you the number of times my wife has said “you are going to town in that?” in absolute and shear horror (not because she wants me to be the “grey man” but because my clothes don’t match or something). Thankfully, here, if I go to the grocery store in business casual, I stick out like a sore thumb.

    Also, one thing I have learned about “NEVER” rules over the course of my life, is they are the one rule for which there is always an exception. 🙂

    • Muleskinner on March 1, 2014 at 6:01 PM
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    PJ and Maj:

    I am delighted to see two very good remarks. I get bored with all those who sacrifice common sense at the alter of survival. Most who live in the world of absolutes are going to find themselves fighting for their lives. Maybe it is time we stop this incessant drum beat of do this, now do that, and face the real world it would be much healthier.

      • PJ on March 2, 2014 at 9:48 AM
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      Quite right, there are *almost* always exceptions to a rule. I remember getting into an online discussion with a fellow who was very animate about NEVER taking what was not yours. We were talking about post SHTF, and I made a point to state that long term post SHTF and for whatever reason I had exhausted ALL MEANS to keep my family fed, I would have to resort to other measures to keep us alive. This could mean poaching a few animals or taking from other places which did not seem to be occupied.

      His response was that we should die with dignity rather than cross that moral line in the sand.

      My thoughts: So easy to preach from the “holier than thou” pulpit when times are good and one’s belly is full.

        • Muleskinner on March 2, 2014 at 7:41 PM
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        Like you I have met any number of people who have exhibited that attitude of moral superiority. As a general rule I make sure to put them on my “beware” list. You know, these types, when faced with a starving wife and kids will turn into a prowling predator at some point. At that time they won’t even remember the “line in the sand”. They will only see the need and what they must do to save themselves and their loved ones.

    • Bill on March 2, 2014 at 4:37 PM
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    It sounds like you are saying there is only one absolute: that “there are NO absolutes.”

      • PJ on March 2, 2014 at 5:44 PM
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      Well played Sir.

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