People possess 6 senses.
They are sight, sound, taste, touch, smell, and your sixth sense.
Even if you don’t know you have one.
If any of them are triggered by that person, one or more of those senses may trigger a reaction in you. What that reaction will be depends on you the person, training, or an evolution reaction that will typically be fight or flight.
Mind you, if a gray man triggers ANY reaction, he, or she, has failed.
So what could go wrong?
He or she did something your mind picked up something.
Does that person act or move in a threatening or different way to everyone else?
Movement may be out of the norm. If everyone is gawking and that person is moving, why aren’t they doing what everyone else is doing? If everyone is strolling and that person is running, why?
It’s all about ‘What’s wrong with this picture’ and consciously or not, your mind will detect the unusual.
Before going on, it might be useful to reprint something I scribbled in 2013 about the gray man persona.
Note that although I say “him or her” in this article both ,and a couple, are equally adept at achieving this persona.
So why play the Gray man card? It’s simple security.
If you don’t form an opinion of a person, if you don’t know anything about them, if they are there but NOT there, 9/10 times, you’ll leave them alone.
That’s precisely the position you want to be in.
It allows you to develop your plans, your resources, assemble your survival equipment and train without drawing attention to yourself.
Then, whatever event happens, you’ll probably be left alone and provided you continue as “Mr. or Mrs. Nobody”, you’ll not be bothered.
The gray man persona is the ultimate in camouflage and the hardest role to play.
Exponents of the gray man are extremely difficult to identify simply because you don’t notice them.
They’ll be tactically aware the whole time, fitter than they look, trained to better than competent in a wide range of survival skills yet to look at them they’ll be no different than the next guy or girl.
Neither macho or exhibiting strong personality, they appear without fanfare, and you never actually notice when they leave. If you asked a room full of people what the gray man looked like the common theme would be nondescript.
In dress, they are never bright BUT never overly dour.
They’ll dress to fit the occasion. If everyone is wearing casual, so will they yet strangely their apparel will not stand out. If anything you’ll notice they dress in quiet colors, usually earth tones.
In manner, they will come across as private, a little shy, respectful, and polite especially in the presence of authority. Although they won’t offer to help, but they will quietly aid with everyone else who does.
Difficult to engage in conversation, they come across as an average, pleasant, polite personality. They offer no new opinions, are never contentious, or argumentative.
Having said that, the individual may be slow and calculated in their answers to the point where you think they are feckless and uninteresting.
Friendships will be restricted to polite acknowledgments.
It’s unlikely they will give out or take up invitations for meals, coffee, or BBQ.
To you it’ll appear as shyness. In the worse case they will appear stand offish BUT a true exponent of the gray man will disarm that by their acquiescent neutral behavior and personality.
Push too hard and they will just quietly fade into the background.
It would be a mistake to pursue ANY issue as you would have been flagged by them as a hazard. The harder you push, the further they will withdraw.
However, NEVER make the mistake of thinking that they are being cowardly or can be pushed round. They may just be waiting till they can deal with you on their terms and they probably will provided it does not draw attention to themselves.
The two ages of man will engender different opinions from others even though it will be hard to guess their age by their dress or manner.
The young gray man may appear a bit wimpish, shy, and withdrawn.
He’ll step back from a crowd (yet moves forward with little effort).
The older gray man may appear a bit “vacant”, like he’s not all there and might even be a bit unstable in movement. Not quite hesitant, they can also make good progress with little effort.
Both will appear calm and relaxed although they are constantly assessing the risk to their situation, their contact with others, and the location for exit and choke points.
A learned person liked them to ducks. Its a good analogy.
Calm on the surface but paddling furiously under the water.
Don’t forget couples can be exponents of the gray man persona.
If there are a pair but split up, individually they may appear apart but their positioning and focus may be on each other in a protective “watching the other guys back” role.
At work the gray man will arrive comfortably on time, do their days work methodically and without contention. If people have sick days off, so will they. If people occasionally work over time, so will they.
At play they’ll probably do singular activities.
If they have to share facilities i.e. swimming baths or ranges, they’ll be a creature of habit. Same procedures, same times, yet not quite.
They’ll always be tucked away from the crowd.
Not noticeably separate, just on the sidelines.
Mostly paying cash “as they go” in preference to setting up accounts.
What car they drive will be nondescript.
No huge 4×4 or truck unless that is the norm.
The vehicle won’t look new or old BUT it will be well maintained.
If the police stop this vehicle, everything will work, the paperwork will be present and correct, the contents on a cursory search benign.
The driver will be highly respectful of authority and VERY law abiding.
He’ll probably wave to the police.
You may recognize the vehicle eventually but it’ll be driven without contention.
Once again it will be unremarkable, no bumper stickers or noticeable features.
In transit they’ll be dressed comfortably but “dull”.
No tight tops, loose fitting shirts, a generic top layer i.e. if everyone wears anoraks, so will they.
They won’t be wearing an obvious “vest” or tactical webbing though.
If they are carrying, it won’t be obvious with either a small of the back, fanny, or ankle holster. See (Additions to Urban lugging thoughts) for thoughts on vests.
If the local religion or culture calls for head gear, the gray man will conform.
However, be cautious of using a shemagh.
Patterns and colors may identify you as being a member or follower of a religion, race, or gang member. Get it wrong and you make yourself a person of interest.
Footwear won’t be tactical, no assault boots, probably clean “lived in” work boots.
People acknowledge dirt yet they notice a dirty or VERY clean person.
Having said that, you’ll be neat and average.
No discernible perfumes or fragrances. If you want to deodorize, wipe down with alcohol as it kills the bacteria that makes the smells and evaporates off without odor.
As for what you carry?
On foot in transit was covered in Urban Load Lugging
Take careful note of my choice of ‘pack’ and how I learned that from another living on the street. Also note the use of a vest under your not too baggy clothing.
So how do you blend in?
Match the surroundings and the people within that area.
Always keep to neutral ‘earth’ colors and stay in the shadows.
Hug what cover is available to you, move slowly or at least the speed everyone else is moving. If everyone is moving at a different direction to where you want to go, DRIFT in that direction but don’t suddenly change your route.
What other factors could catch you out?
You in your bearing, size, and how you are transiting and interacting (or not) with others. When you do interact, don’t hold eye contact.
Scanning is acceptable, looking into another person’s eyes is not wise.
Is that it? Over the years, the one constant thing I’ve learned is avoid tactical in manner and dress. That and the gray man technique constantly changes because of the scenario and location you find yourself in.
While people can write books about it, by the time it’s printed fashion or trends may have changed and people watching remains as the best way to learn what is acceptable, where, and when.
If I was describe the whole Gray man bit in a couple of words.
It would be for you to BLEND IN, and somehow tactical never does.