This page was last updated on Thursday, 09 April, 2015.
The Gray Man and Secrecy
Michael Pereiara | 9 April, 2015 | Contact
The gray man is a term I first learned by reading about real life survival situations and how people survived them. The underlying philosophy is simple. Blend in. Not too complex right? Take a moment to think about what it really means to blend in. If you find yourself in a survival situation, and you are lucky enough to have been prepared, you may not need to go out into the world for a while. You have food, water, hygiene and security covered, so why go out? I wouldn’t leave my family or group unless I absolutely needed to. Chances are, you won’t either. But eventually you will have to venture out into the world. Either to resupply or to scavenge or barter for something you didn’t have to begin with or just to see how things are progressing out there. You won’t stay hidden forever is the point. You will eventually go to town, so to speak. When you get there, you will likely find very desperate people who have had to survive on less than nothing while you were in your shelter or bunker. While you were putting on weight from lack of exercise in your secure area, they would have been starving. While you shaved, they grew their facial hair. And for every ten times you bathed they may have washed off once. They probably haven’t done laundry since “Cataclysm X” happened and have likely spent much of their time in the same clothes.
Fast forward to the day you need to venture out of your safe area. If you meet people or even if they just see you out in clean or semi-clean clothes, they will immediately know that you have supplies and resources. One clean pair of jeans or a set of boots that don’t look like they have seen too many miles will tip your hand. The heightened senses of the survivors will tell them that you have been living differently than they have. Their senses will have been honed by the time they spent in true survival mode. Scratching to get by on nothing opens your eyes, ears and nose to the smallest details that you never would have considered before. If you are clean, they will smell you in the same way that you will be able to smell their lack of cleanliness.
The smallest detail may be just enough to get you killed or followed, to be robbed and maybe even killed once they know where your assets are. So you will have to do your best to blend in and be the gray man. You must be someone who is just as dirty, unkempt, hungry and desperate as they are. This means you will have to let your hair grow out a bit. You should grow a beard as well and watch how you eat so that you lose some weight but not enough to hurt. Dirty clothes and well-worn boots will be your outfit of choice when you venture out. Don’t overdo it on the dirt as too much will make you stand out almost as much as the lack thereof. It’s a rather fine line, but not too fine. People will find ways to clean up somewhat, but not to the levels of the prepared. So, you will need to be able to find a look that works and allows you to move about unnoticed. Do some homework. Scout the area you intend to visit by binoculars first for a few days and see how the people there look. You will want to blend with them, so note how they look and act. Are they friendly and talking to each other or standoffish and tend to scavenge alone. How does the average person look? How thin are they, do they seem too desperate to approach safely?
Remember safety and security for you and your family or group is priority one. You cannot afford to inadvertently lead a horde of desperate strangers to your location. If you do, you will have big problems on your hands. So blending in is a must. You have to be able to move unnoticed, get what you need and get back without being followed. You won’t immediately know if you have drawn the unwanted attention of someone, so you will have to take measures to ensure that you are not being followed back. Choose a route in and out of the danger zone that leads away from where you actually reside. Move a few miles away from danger zone then find some high ground to hide and watch the route you just took to see if you are being followed. Watch for at least an hour or two to ensure that you are not being followed. Once you are sure you are safe, you can move towards your safe area. Stopping at advantageous spots along the way and again be sure that you are not being followed.
This speaks towards the other part of this article which is secrecy. Some preppers understand the importance of not advertising to the world that they are stocked and ready for bad times. Other preppers and folks who have high-end safety and security products like panic rooms, safe rooms and bunkers like to show them off to friends and family. I understand the human tendency to brag about certain accomplishments or items you have acquired in life. I also understand the need for humans to receive praise and admiration of others. We all want to be seen as successful and smart, but my rule on this subject is simple. Don’t show it to anyone you don’t intend to let in and take care of. When I was a young man I used to talk about my preparedness items and abilities and would always hear the familiar “I’m coming to your house when the fan turns brown.” I used to just laugh it off and go on my way, but nowadays I am sure to let folks know that they will not be at my house or bunker when it all goes south. I let them know for two reasons, first and foremost, so they won’t show up at my door. Secondly, so that they understand that they are in charge of their own preparedness.
What will a man do to feed his starving child? What would he do to get the antibiotics they need? What would they do to ensure their family has a shelter over their head that will keep them safe? Some of these people are our friends and family. Yet they would kill you to save their child. I can’t blame them for that. I would do anything for my loved ones as well, but if they had heeded the warnings they wouldn’t need to steal from those of us who did. So, do yourself a favor and keep secrecy at the top of the list when it comes to prepping. Recommend that others prepare, but never give away key information about your preps, where they are located, how much of what you have. These details should be only shared with those in your group or family.
I highly recommend that you seek out a group of families to join so that you can pool resources and skills which will make your life easier and keep you all safer as the size of your group will be enough to keep away smaller groups that would rob or kill you. There is an old saying from World War 2 that goes “Loose lips, sink ships.” This saying is based on the event that someone might have witnessed a boat leaving harbor or maybe at sea somewhere and mentioned that information in the presence of a spy who would then relay the location to the enemy and the ship would be attacked. So, your friend might be telling another friend a story about his prepper buddy and someone overhears or the friend of a friend now knows all about your preps. Not good. So, keep your mouth shut, blend in and do as much homework and preparing as you can now, because after the event is too late to take action. At that point you can only react. Not a good place to be. Stay safe, prepare and watch the world closely. Mum is the word gray man.