Becoming the Gray Man

In modern disaster preparedness writings you’ll often see references to “the gray man”.  The gray man is the individual who dresses and behaves in such a way as to not draw attention.  The gray man (or gray woman) blends into the background and stays there.  In many respects I actually prefer to the term “gray person” to gray man/woman, because gender alone can be sufficient to draw unwanted attention.

The gray man is an important concept because, during times of disaster, inviting unnecessary attention can easily lead to trouble – or simply cost precious time:

  • It’s probably not the best idea to appear well-fed in a community that is starving.
  • It’s probably not a good idea to appear bright and cheerful in a community that is filled with fear and desperation.
  • Conversely, it’s probably not a good idea to look like a disheveled bum in a room filled with business people wearing suits.

During a time of major disaster, the prepper will venture forth only out of necessity – a need to obtain food, a need to pay a bill, a need for supplies.  In general, the less time the prepper spends at those locations, and the sooner they return to home base, the better.  And, hopefully, there are no prying eyes following them home because they unintentionally attracted the wrong kind of attention.

Here are some tips for becoming the gray man:

  • Dress for the occasion – select attire that will blend in as much as possible with others.
  • Consider your body language (never seem threatening) – even slight gestures can be mis-interpreted.
  • BE alert – don’t LOOK alert!
  • Avoid making unnecessary eye contact
  • Stay on the perimeter of groups
  • Avoid standing in lines

Other tips when venturing forth in time of disaster:

  • Consult with your trusted group before going out
  • Anticipate future needs to limit trips out
  • Vary your travel times and routes

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