A few years ago, I traveled to Guatemala with my church to help with a building project in a small, isolated village. Upon arriving at the departure gate, I was horrified that the team leader handed out bright, fluorescent yellow t-shirts so that he could easily identify the group while traveling. I was mortified. The shirts may as well have had “KIDNAP ME” in big letters across the back. While I have never had any formal training in being the “Grayman,” I had plenty of training and experience in working locations that exhibit high risk capture to travelers. We were breaking the first rule.
The art of being invisible or forgetful to the local populous is truly a game of skill, practice and luck, with a splash of common sense. I have traveled through many countries in my life and can say without hesitation that the first thing I notice on someone I meet on the street is their attire.
We all have a style, some clothing combination that gives us identity, or makes us comfortable, or maybe it gives us piece of mind by its utility design. After all, we are human and most of us desire attention of some sort and our closets are the first place we go to achieve this. In general, I can’t remember ninety percent of the people I see in a day, but sometimes, someone is wearing something so outrageous for the situation, it sticks with me even today. An example would be tactical Timmy. We all know him. Tactical pants, bloused boots, Velcro, and aggressive military themed tee shirts.
Rolling around town looking like that is well and good when we are home and the locals would expect no less, but in an SHTF scenario, you will be looked at for one of two things. Someone to hide behind, or trouble. Keep it toned down. I stay away from anything of any brighter colors and absolutely, no logo or designs on shirts or hats. I also wear pants, even in summer as skin draws attention.
Along with wardrobe, I leave the heavy metal necklaces, diamond studs and the Rolex at the house. Flashy jewelry says “I’m wealthy and important.” I don’t want to be either in this situation. I wear sunglasses on a daily basis, even in cloudy weather. I find that the U.V. light coming through the clouds diminishes my vision so a good pair of sunglasses feel good on the eyeballs. When traveling on a cloudy day in a city, I watch what everyone else is doing. If they wear sunglasses, so do I. Additionally, I stay away from brightly colored frames and lenses and stick to gray and black in some fashion.
If I am not wearing sunglasses, I try not to make eye contact. Your ability to remember someone increases massively when you make eye contact. The last thought on wardrobe is concerning color. I recently was working a protection detail for the media during a neo-Nazi and Antifa demonstration. I wore jeans, dark sweater and black coat. Unfortunately, I was easily mistaken as a demonstrator for one of the groups due to the color of my clothes. A quick removal of the jacket may have saved me from a beat down by the local police or an attack from the rival march. Something to think about before you head out.
Traveling Against the Current
When crowds of people are moving in one direction, I have found that it is best to travel with them. Even if I am attempting to go in an opposite direction, swimming with the current is absolutely critical to keep from being noticed. To clear away from the crowd, the best method is to slowly move to one side of the group or the other and just slide into an ally or a shaded exit. I am sure you are asking yourself, “why shaded? Are we back on sunglasses?”
No. Think of it as Positive and Negative space. Positive space would be any well lit, open area with clear view from the surrounding areas. Not where you want to be when you duck off in a violent protest to flee. We as humans are visually attracted to positive space. Lights, color and noise, are all triggers that grab our attention. Think Vegas. Negative space, on the other hand, is a space that is in the shadows. Keeping our bodies in the shadows will diminish our presence and physical features. Trained snipers use these techniques to be the true masters of being grayman.
Along with using negative space, the way we move can be just as an attention grabber as wearing a sign. Harsh, jerky movements in a crowd will draw gazes, and stopping causes fender benders with everyone walking in the same direction. Remember that when tensions are high, people are naturally attracted to quick movements that would suggest a fight.
The last consideration we will talk about is demeanor. How we carry ourselves, you know, strut! I am a people watcher. Guilty. What I have found, though, is that it has given me a great ability to read intentions. I can pick out concealed weapon imprints, clip on pocket knives, guarding behavior (someone keeping a hand near a pocket that very well may conceal a weapon), and aggressive capability a mile away. A cocky strut with your chin up says you can handle yourself. Walking with a slight slouch, chin down, hands relaxed by your side says you are a nobody or a cool cucumber. I prefer the latter.
Kit or E.D.C
I am not going to go into the contents of your kit, we can save that for another article. I want to talk about how you carry your kit. I’m a big fan of low profile. I steered away from using tactical back packs almost as soon as I left the military. While I do appreciate the function of M.O.L.L.E. and Velcro, I found that I really don’t use either function of the bag anyway. Plus, when I see a tactical back pack, I immediately wonder what’s in it and what the intentions of the wearer are. For me, a good quality black day pack blends in and looks like I could be carrying a laptop as easily as bug out supplies.
In conclusion, being grayman needs to be mastered if you are planning on escaping or evading a large demonstration unscathed. The great thing about this skill is that you can train starting tomorrow. No drive to the range, no class full of tactical “Timmys,” and no $300.00 registration fee. Get up in the morning, go to the closet, and plan to gray out.