The Myth of "The Grey Man"

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The Myth of "The Grey Man"

Post by ODA 226 » Wed Sep 14, 2011 12:09 pm

PLEASE READ THE ENTIRE THREAD BEFORE POSTING COMMENTS IF YOU HAVE NOT DONE SO ALREADY!!!! THANKS!


As most that have been here for a while know, I believe that the "Grey Man" theory that many here have accepted as being the "Survival Gospel", as utter hogwash. I intend that this post be provactive in order to stimulate a constructive debate, not a mudslinging contest. Here are my views honed from real world experiences:

1. I believe that there is no such thing as the "Grey Man". In a SHTF situation where there is a near total destruction of accepted sociatal norms,(whether temporary or permanent), violent and or desperate people will attack you and take anything that they believe to be of value to them or anything that will help them survive.

2. The wearing of any type of rucksack, regardless of color or military or civilian model will make you a target.

3. It doesn't matter whether you wear civilian or military style clothing in these situations. If the hoard thinks you MAY possess ANYTHING of value and if you are not in a group that has parity of coersive force against the opposing group, you will be attacked if the other group thinks you are carrying anything of value.

Here is a vid that I know we've all seen from the London Riots:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Gex_ya4 ... tube_gdata" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

This guy was dressed the same as everyone else in the crowd, but was attacked because of his bicycle that he was riding (object of value) and then was mugged again because of his rucksack. (Another object of value.)

Some will say that he was robbed because he was Malaysian, but a quick review of the video will show you that his attackers consisted of blacks, whites and other asians and at least one of mixed race.

4. The "Grey Man" does not exist! If you must carry equipment, ie. rucksack, do not carry it where your movement can be readily viewed by the "Z's". If you must move, move quietly and only at night if possible. Avoid other people, crowds, roads, paths and anywhere people congregate.

Ok. Let the debate begin! :!:
Last edited by ODA 226 on Sun Oct 23, 2011 12:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The Myth of "The Grey Man"

Post by raptor » Wed Sep 14, 2011 12:27 pm

An interesting topic. I also ask that this discussion stay within the ZS rules and I hope nay sayers and proponents of the Gray Man theory can learn something.

I am a big proponent of being "gray" in SHTF situations. I think it makes sense to draw as little unwanted attention to your self as possible. Much like camouflage in a forest environment it can be useful. IMO it should be thought of as camouflage in that setting. It has all the pros and cons of camouflage. Thus like camouflage it is not infallible and it offers no guarantee of invisibility or protection.

I will also agree that in situations, for instance the aforesaid riot, that being gray is no protection and actually may convey a sense of weakness (i.e. I can be easily surprised because I am unprepared and unaware.) in such situations. That said I think a riot is simply made up of too many random variables to say any one strategy will work...other than perhaps a water cooled machine gun with a lot of ammo.

My view of being gray is that it is a tool. Nothing more. It is a strategy of trying not to be noticed. You then have to decide whether going into a situation as a gray man or some other strategy will work better. As big of a proponent of being gray as I am; I will readily agree that it has weaknesses. By the same token so does every other strategy. There is no one perfect plan that will work every time in every situation.

Certainly from a military or LEO perspective being gray does not project power nor intimidate the opposition. This is normally contrary to the goals of these groups. These entities generally also have a specific mission to accomplish. Thus they also have a lot power on hand that assist with this goal. In fact I would say that a military unit adopting Gray Man tactics would likely be a disaster for them.

A survivor's mission is less bold; it is simply survival of the group. Projection of power and the inevitable conflict that it draws is normally the opposite of what these groups desire and can withstand.

My $.02.

Edited to add:
ODA226 wrote: If you must carry equipment, ie. rucksack, do not carry it where your movement can be readily viewed by the "Z's". If you must move, move quietly and only at night if possible. Avoid other people, crowds, roads, paths and anywhere people congregate.
This is IMO excellent advice in a SHTF situation. IMO Avoidance like this is a core Gray Man tactic.
Last edited by raptor on Wed Sep 14, 2011 12:53 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: The Myth of "The Grey Man"

Post by Wildeman_13 » Wed Sep 14, 2011 12:42 pm

I'm with Raptor for the most part, but do agree with you, ODA226 in that there are times it can make you the target. In the mentioned riot, for one. However, in a SHTF situation where many people will be running around with packs and bags and pulling carts you will fit right in with your "grey man" look. Just keep your head on a swivlel and when you no longer fit in with the crowd, then it is time to follow ODAs advice. And of course only stick with the crowd if it is the only option to get away from the cause of the SHTF.

Short answer, grey man can be just like camouflage if the "surroundings" let you blend in. Once those "surroundings" change, it is time to change your camouflage.
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Re: The Myth of "The Grey Man"

Post by Clover » Wed Sep 14, 2011 12:47 pm

Did you notice how you didn't see the grey man in that video?
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Re: The Myth of "The Grey Man"

Post by lokifz1 » Wed Sep 14, 2011 12:52 pm

In your example the student was not being a gray man he was flaunting a bicycle and rucksack, he did not appear as everyone else.

Trying to blend and be gray is a tactic that may work, being overt may work, time and place for each.
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Re: The Myth of "The Grey Man"

Post by marbhán marfóir » Wed Sep 14, 2011 1:53 pm

your rebuttle sounds suspiciously like when my aunt used to say my cousin must've wanted to get raped for dressing like a whore.

I hate to say it, but i think this whole discussion was wrapped up in the first two posts. much like anything that has a fanboy following, any sane person will use common sense and realize that no one Tactic, piece of gear, weapon, mindset, book, 'expert' or technique is going to be 100% successful 100% of the time (even sex panther only worked 60% of the time every time :lol: )and people should be able to change, adapt and plan accordingly.

The whole 'grey' man concept is appealing, and as mentioned before (in the first two posts) what should be rule number 1 to being grey is is to AVOID AVOID AVOID.

also:
Clover wrote:Did you notice how you didn't see the grey man in that video?
I just lost the game right there dude. spilt apple juice all down my shirt.
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Re: The Myth of "The Grey Man"

Post by oldsoldier » Wed Sep 14, 2011 2:01 pm

What was once told to me was, the best way to avoid a gunfight is to not be there. Me, if there were massive riots & looting, I would stay until my position simply is no longer tenable. As I am 30 miles from home, while working, and work in the city, there is a MUCH larger chance of those events happening at work, than at home. At home, I really dont see a massive riot happening-I live in a small, rural community, and things just dont work like that there. So, grey man, black man, white man-it wouldnt matter. At work-I am stuck with what I have on me. I work in an office building, and would have to decide whether it is safer to stay, or move. Unless the building becomes structurally unsound, or is occuppied, it would simply be safer to stay.
Looking at riots in general, they have a tendency to be "rolling pockets of disaster". By this I mean that, yes, they cause mayhem in a general area-but, eventually, they either move on, or disperse. These two events are where I would take advantage of the situation to get home. Travel REAL early in the AM, like 3 or so, betting that the worst of the offenders are done, or wait it out entirely. Riots dont typically last for days-yes, they may in the general sense of a city rioting, but localized, they do what they do, and move on. One person, alone, with or without gear, regardless of dress, will be noticed-and, if the crowd is worked up, attacked.

So, best bet? Dont be there :)
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Re: The Myth of "The Grey Man"

Post by Barr » Wed Sep 14, 2011 2:22 pm

oldsoldier wrote:What was once told to me was, the best way to avoid a gunfight is to not be there. Me, if there were massive riots & looting, I would stay until my position simply is no longer tenable. As I am 30 miles from home, while working, and work in the city, there is a MUCH larger chance of those events happening at work, than at home. At home, I really dont see a massive riot happening-I live in a small, rural community, and things just dont work like that there. So, grey man, black man, white man-it wouldnt matter. At work-I am stuck with what I have on me. I work in an office building, and would have to decide whether it is safer to stay, or move. Unless the building becomes structurally unsound, or is occuppied, it would simply be safer to stay.
Looking at riots in general, they have a tendency to be "rolling pockets of disaster". By this I mean that, yes, they cause mayhem in a general area-but, eventually, they either move on, or disperse. These two events are where I would take advantage of the situation to get home. Travel REAL early in the AM, like 3 or so, betting that the worst of the offenders are done, or wait it out entirely. Riots dont typically last for days-yes, they may in the general sense of a city rioting, but localized, they do what they do, and move on. One person, alone, with or without gear, regardless of dress, will be noticed-and, if the crowd is worked up, attacked.

So, best bet? Dont be there :)

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Re: The Myth of "The Grey Man"

Post by TacAir » Wed Sep 14, 2011 2:27 pm

Hummmm...

"if you are not in a group that has parity of coersive force against the opposing group..."

I have often posited that solo travel equals suicide in a post disaster environment.

Unless you are The Shadow, folks will notice you - in normal times, in adnormal times, the question becomes when does the feeding frenzy start?

As far as a being part of a group, even that is no proof against an attack, recent history does seem to support your thesis in many areas:
In 1994
and in 2005 - The Boxing Day Tsunami

The antithesis would be the actions or rather, inactions, of people living in Japan after thier recent spate of disasters...


I would make the case that an areas 'social environment' prior to any wide-scale disaster is a bigger player than many might think.
As far as the source of the feeding frenzy, **this well written** piece discusses many issues not often raised on this board, but should be of concern to members/visitors in a post-disaster situation.

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Re: The Myth of "The Grey Man"

Post by Colombo » Wed Sep 14, 2011 3:11 pm

Don't intend to be leaving my rural area so I'm planing on unseen but dressed to oppress green man.

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Re: The Myth of "The Grey Man"

Post by ........ » Wed Sep 14, 2011 3:23 pm

Much like politics, religion, and many other things the truth lies somewhere in the middle.

I've heard people say "The Grey Man" doesn't exist so they're going to dress up like Rambo and bug out with an AR15.
I've heard people say "The Grey Man" does exist and they're going to bug out untouched by pretending to be what ever.

Truth in the middle. The Mall Ninja survivalists are going to get stopped by law enforcement (Katrina Martial Order for example) or locals protecting thier areas. The Grey Men appearing weak may be robbed or those riding around in service vehicles or ambulences (saw the later on a thread) will be mobbed by good people looking for help or robbed by bad people for supplies.
TacAir wrote:"if you are not in a group that has parity of coersive force against the opposing group..."
This was what I was thinking. Group of men.

If I have to bug out of an urban center I want to do it in civilian clothing with civilian looking gear (at least whats not in bags) and I want to walk with confidence and if possible in a group.

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Re: The Myth of "The Grey Man"

Post by Neville » Wed Sep 14, 2011 3:41 pm

There are a couple of issue with the "grey man" example listed, that make it less than a prime example.

First, the whole object of being a "grey man" is to not stand out. By conspicuously possessing a bicycle and a pack in a crowd of people without them, the individual in the episode in question stood out. A better example would have been in a crowd where everyone had a bicycle and a backpack, did his bike and pack blend in, or stand out? Because visibly possessing these items caused him to stand out, he was no longer "grey".

Second, when he was jumped, it was not the fact that he appeared to be unarmed that caused the encounter to go badly. It was because he was, in actual fact, UNARMED. Being "grey" doesn't mean be a people, it means APPEAR to be a people.

There's a lot to be said for being low-profile, off the radar, not taken notice of. Being somewhat grey is better than being chartreuse or magenta. I don't know how many times I've had this discussion. Being grey doesn't mean not having any good gear. It means not being conspicuously better off or different than the majority of those around you. It means keeping your mouth shut, your plans, abilities and resources secret. If all your neighbors have break-open shotguns guarding their homes after the storm, you don't sit on your front porch with an AR-15. Doesn't mean you don't HAVE an AR-15 within handy reach, just that nobody knows about it except you. If the one or two stragglers cruising through the neighborhood suddenly turns to aggressive gangs of looters, it's easy to drop that shottie and pick up the AR. At that point, you sacrifice your "grey" for the higher performance that was needed and right within arm's reach. And if it never comes to that, so much the better, and you keep your grey motif.

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Re: The Myth of "The Grey Man"

Post by offcamber » Wed Sep 14, 2011 3:45 pm

Camo and guns are a big part or rural life in my area.. and in a town of 1200 people, everyone knows each other so that goes a long way toward keeping people accountable for their actions.

Going "grey" in my neck of the woods just isn't a necessity.

I do feel for you city folk though. :wink:

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Re: The Myth of "The Grey Man"

Post by ........ » Wed Sep 14, 2011 3:51 pm

offcamber wrote:Camo and guns are a big part or rural life in my area..
Grey: http://arizona.indymedia.org/uploads/20 ... unters.jpg" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Not Grey: http://zombiehunters.org/forum/viewtopi ... 6&start=96" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

:lol:

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Re: The Myth of "The Grey Man"

Post by phil_in_cs » Wed Sep 14, 2011 4:00 pm

In some other thread, ODA 226 spoke of hiding in the day, walking 10 miles at night, etc to avoid detection during a bugout. The mugging victim's fault here was riding a bike into a riot, not what he was wearing. Your value as a target has more to do with the mindset of the attackers than anything you are wearing or doing. This mob had it's blood up and wanted a fight.
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Re: The Myth of "The Grey Man"

Post by maldon007 » Wed Sep 14, 2011 4:04 pm

To me, there is a very wide spectrum of disaster invironments, and while the op is probably right as far as some of those are concerned, there are probably many where he is wrong. So the answer is probably, go with what you think the odds are... Will looking like a street walker or whatever you consider grey, cause you more problems than it prevents? I think in most cases, it's a wash at worst... And helpful at best, with a very small number of circumstances where it will hurt.

But that is only given that you MUST for whatever reason, travel... And be with gear. Obviously, as covered above, travel during a lawless, or maybe worse, martial law environment, should be avoided. But your BIL or house or whatever, should also be grey... Gun turrets on the roof & a 15" fence, is probably inviting trouble :lol:
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Re: The Myth of "The Grey Man"

Post by Ableto » Wed Sep 14, 2011 4:26 pm

Being Grey is like most ppl say down to the situation and paying attention to the surroundings. You can be the grey man and look the part but you really have to know how to stay away from the problems. If looting is happening steer clear of the area. If your in one of the building trapped in a riot area, stay where you are unless the place is some how coming down on you, and then leave when you feel its safe. Also if your traveling a good distance to getting home, make sure your not going through areas that can be a problem. Like dont go near businesses that can be magnets for riots and looting, but dont go through neighborhoods that has a lot of gang problems ether (which some large cities do have maps you can print up that list high crime/gang areas, check with travel agencies or law enforcement).

Also it depends on when other ppl start looking at you funny. Even if a disaster happens like a earthquake or natrual disaster where in a short time things normaly go back to normal grps of ppl will not hunt down others unless food and other resources are totally gone and the realization that help is not coming sets in in the case of some sort of collapse . So a day or so to travel through some areas will be ok if early on. If a few weeks go by and no help is coming, it wouldnt matter if your grey man or not, ppl will do bad things when trying to survive.

Its down to the situation and how much time a person thinks they have if all hell is going to break loose or go back to normal. Call it a rating scale where scale 1 would be a small deal like a earthquake or a storm knocking things out for a few days or scale 5 where we are headed to a PAW. If ppl think everything will go back to normal in a few days, a person getting home being a grey man will be ok, but if things end up near a scale 5, then at that point you better hope you can be invisible like a Predator from the Predator movies.
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Re: The Myth of "The Grey Man"

Post by Paladin1 » Wed Sep 14, 2011 4:39 pm

To me "Gray Man" means more than what I wear. It's also how I act, how and when I travel, where I'm at, or where I'm going.

If there is a riot, I'm not going there to check it out, if traveling is dangerous then I won't travel. If I have too then it will be off the beaten path in low light. If I'm staying put, I'm not turning on all the lights and having a cookout because I have a generator and plenty of food.

I want to be the grey man until it's time not to be the grey man. :twisted:
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Re: The Myth of "The Grey Man"

Post by ODA 226 » Wed Sep 14, 2011 5:12 pm

Now that I'm home, I have more time to formulate my thoughts. Very good replies so far.

I think that too many folks here have read the "Grey Man" thread and accepted at face value the premise that simply wearing subdued colored clothing and a carrying civilian backpack will make you "invisible" to any potential threat. I believe that this is a potentially fatal strategy for the reasons that I listed above.

Over the years, through my training in US Army Special Forces and the Sheriff's Office and extensive real world experiences in troublespots all over the world, I've come to realize that the true ways to achieve "Greyness" are:

1. Local/ Regional Knowledge

2. Situational Awareness

3. The Ability to QUICKLY Adapt to a Rapidly Changing Environment

Let's look again at our unlucky victim in the video:

a) Lack of Local Knowledge: He had only been in London for a month if I recall correctly. he was taking the only way he knew how to get to his friend's house, to celebrate the end of Ramadan. (NOTE :!: Develop Primary, Alternate and Emergency Routes to and from important places that you frequent!)

b) Situational Awareness: Obviously he had none. He unknowingly entered a riot zone (ala Reginald Denny) on a what appears to be a fairly nice bicycle (item of perceived value). Although he was dressed the same as everyone else, he was targeted initially for the bike by a gang of juveniles. Once his jaw was broken, he was again targeted, by older thugs because of his backpack, a very "grey" one may I add and the fact that he was obviously unable to mount a viable defense.

c) The Ability to QUICKLY Adapt to a Rapidly Changing Environment Obviously he totally failed this task. How could he have quickly "Turned Grey", riding a bicycle unknowingly into this situation? My first impulse would have been to "become" on of "them" (the rioters). If I was wearing what our unlucky hero was wearing and COULDN'T retreat, I would have immediately throw that hoodie up over my head and pulled my T-shirt up to give the impression that I was also wearing a mask and part of the mob. This might give me just enough leeway to extract myself from the situation.

These three "musts" are something that most of us fail to learn. For others it is natural. I've always been on of the naturals. Recall my post in the "Grey Man" thread where I posted my picture? I'n 6'0" 232 lbs., muscular, shaved head, goatee and tats on both arms...hardly the type you'd think could immediate assimilate into almost any environment and in most places where I've been for more that a day, I can.

The three "musts" that I've identified above can save your life. If they work for you, please develop these skills. If you don't feel comfortable using them, don't. But please don't be conned into having a false sense of security that wearing subdude colors and civilian equipment will make you "invisible" to the zombie hoards because it won't and is an assumption that may cost you your life.
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Re: The Myth of "The Grey Man"

Post by ODA 226 » Wed Sep 14, 2011 5:33 pm

TacAir wrote:
The antithesis would be the actions or rather, inactions, of people living in Japan after thier recent spate of disasters...
I would make the case that an areas 'social environment' prior to any wide-scale disaster is a bigger player than many might think.
Great observation TacAir! Remember in my first post, I said that a true "SHTF" situation is when accepted social norms "go out the window".

Most folks here in the US where shocked when no looting occured in Japan and were even more shocked to see the Japanese people politely queing up for food and water relief!

I believe that a major factor in this was that Japan is still mostly a "homogenous" country with little outsider interference. The Japanese "Mores and Folkways" were still intact after the tsunami and a common sense of honor caused the Japanese people to police themselves.

We all know what would have happened here in the US if something similar had occured.
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Re: The Myth of "The Grey Man"

Post by Wildeman_13 » Wed Sep 14, 2011 5:44 pm

ODA 226 wrote:I think that too many folks here have read the "Grey Man" thread and accepted at face value the premise that simply wearing subdued colored clothing and a carrying civilian backpack will make you "invisible" to any potential threat. I believe that this is a potentially fatal strategy for the reasons that I listed above.
Are you talking in general here or do you mean based on the replies so far?

Because based on the replies so far, including my own, this is not what we are saying at all. None of us posting (in my interpretation of what was written) are saying that we expect to run around a crowd of college students and not be noticed simply because we are dressed like them. What we ARE saying is that awareness of your surroundings gives you the insight into how to dress or what to display or not display in order to avoid drawing attention to ones self. If the only way out of the disaster zone is by foot and with the crowd, then looking like every other evacuee is going grey man. But having that 4000CI pack with camos and a load bearing vest/belt combo screams "Look at me, i'm different and have items of value".

Going grey man means determining what is the least visible, most blendy, safest path and course of action one can take to get to safety. If that means donning a ghilly suit and slow crawling through the forest, so be it. If that means wearing street clothes and having camos in your pack (just in case) and your pack looks like every other evacuees pack, then that's great for right then.

I reiterate my last sentence from my first post...
Short answer, grey man can be just like camouflage if the "surroundings" let you blend in. Once those "surroundings" change, it is time to change your camouflage. Blend in with your surrounding in whatever way you need to so that you draw the LEAST amount of attention. If the only way to avoid attention is to only run at night and wear all black, then that is still grey man after a fashion in my book.
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Re: The Myth of "The Grey Man"

Post by Stumpgrinder » Wed Sep 14, 2011 6:10 pm

I'm gonna wear my rubber Duckie pajamas, blood-soaked up to the elbows, a clown wig, one rubber boot, and hide a 44 in the bed pan I'll be carrying under my arm. Nobody messes with that guy, especially if he is singing "the wheels on the bus".
Vicarious_Lee wrote:We'll get by.

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KentsOkay
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Re: The Myth of "The Grey Man"

Post by KentsOkay » Wed Sep 14, 2011 6:22 pm

Stumpgrinder wrote:I'm gonna wear my rubber Duckie pajamas, blood-soaked up to the elbows, a clown wig, one rubber boot, and hide a 44 in the bed pan I'll be carrying under my arm. Nobody messes with that guy, especially if he is singing "the wheels on the bus".
Fixed that for you :D
0122358 wrote:so we moved a thread to maintain OPSEC on a fictional vid game so our team doesnt get kill as easily by possible spies...fuckin sweet

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Re: The Myth of "The Grey Man"

Post by maldon007 » Wed Sep 14, 2011 6:24 pm

I'm pretty sure he was dead serious...
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